What I presume you all know by now is that I’m dyslexic. Not severely, but enough. I love the written word, how books allow you to escape into different worlds and how just 26 letters are the foundation to most of what I know. Does that mean I’m good with them? No! I use them to express, to tell stories be they real or imagined. I love communication, it is the fabric of what it is to be human. Our extensive way of communicating, wherever we are in the world is amazing, to the extent that words are an extension of that. Our faces, body language etc form such rich components in our lives that it’s easy to forget what is innate. So yes, I love language and words.
I know my faults. Being dyslexic isn’t something that troubles me, but I do make efforts to counteract it. This is why when I wrote my book I paid for a lot of different types of editors. The last one I got was a proofreader. To reiterate, I hired a proofreader for my book, this wasn’t a want but a necessity. I made the fatal mistake of thinking that it would be an easy job, and thus I could happily get a newbie from Fiverr as a trial, rather than the full market cost for proofreaders. This was my mistake because I was overconfident since technology catches most of my mistakes. By technology, I mean spellcheck. That’s as much as I’d looked into ensuring my dyslexic spelling wasn’t problematic, and if I was ever unsure of words I would check google. Everyone does this so it’s fine. I work hard and so I felt I was on top of this. I presumed that everyone had better grammar understanding than me.
If someone is going to advertise their skills as a proofreader and copy editor, I presume they can do it. I should know better than to presume or have expectations. This was my other mistake, I didn’t send them a sample chapter to show me they could do the job. They explained why they would be able to have such a quick turnaround, someone hadn’t delivered their manuscript in time and thus they had the capacity if I sent it to them & it’s back to me in a few days. This felt like it was too good to be true, but they were also offering me a discount and could work to my timelines. I should have known better. I should have let the excitement of having gone through all the many other steps to get my book out settle a bit and review their ability. I didn’t. This was my fault! I trusted a stranger online to do my book justice and make up for my shortfall without actual proof.
To their credit, they delivered in time, had suggestions and it looked fine to me. But then again, I had no real idea of creative fantasy writing. All of my day to day involved technical business writing which is much easier for me. I looked over the suggested changes, was happy and pressed publish!
Hooray, just like that I was an author. My book was available all over the world! As you know, I’ve been so excited at the positive feedback I’ve had on the story. I’ve been flying that people have enjoyed Vampire Emily and it hadn’t occurred to me that my proofreader was rubbish! Over the weekend I handed my parents a copy each. My mum opened the first few pages and was aghast at so many simple mistakes that had been missed. An apostrophe here, the wrong word, spelling and more. Yes, you could see what the meaning of each sentence was, but something as simple as suit vs suite which spellcheck can’t identify as wrong was scattered all over my manuscript. I don’t know your relationship with your parents, but for me I expect them to criticise everything.
This was why I’d hired the final editor, the last rung on the ladder as they say! So that they could pick out things that for my tired eyes, that were far too involved in the writing of the book, couldn’t. They hadn’t. A beautiful soul called Rob from twitter bought my book, tweeted at me that he was halfway through and then gave me feedback when he was done. He told me that he loved the story, wants to be kept up to date for the sequel and that the only thing that let me down was the grammar.
My book has been out for over a month now and I’m so mortified that I’ve been promoting it everywhere with such basic mistakes. This leads me to question what else I haven’t been paying attention to, especially as I was genuinely left confused as to why I wasn’t hired for my ideal job, for which they agreed I was great. I now have to think back that they may have looked at the first few pages, seen mistakes that I missed and decided that if I was this sloppy for my product, I couldn’t be trusted. So I’m mortified, gutted and sad. I’m also grateful to all of you out there who are candid and strong enough to give honest feedback. A lot of people rarely do and so it’s such an honour that strangers want to wish me the best when there is no other motive than their kind hearts!
I can’t express my gratitude for all of your positive actions that help me strive for better. Lesson learnt, just as I would never order wine from a bar without tasting to make sure I like it, I won’t ever hire someone without testing out their capabilities. I don’t know how many people I’ve put off for simple mistakes.
As with every problem there must be solutions. I didn’t want to pull my book off, and so the first thing I did was research proofreading tech. I’ve now used that to go through the whole book and I’m shocked at just how much the live person I hired had missed. I’ve uploaded it again and once it’s available in all formats I’m going to run a sale, as well as offer free updates to those who have already bought the book if they can show proof.
Again- make sure the person providing you a service is qualified to do so!