This is the last post of my series on things to look for in your first page.
Click here for part nine.
Proofread that page with a fine tooth comb
After you’ve worked on that first page to set up the story, showcase your writer’s voice, and wow the editor reading it, give it to your most detail-oriented critique partners or a freelance editor (like moi—sorry, I couldn’t resist some blatant self-promotion) to correct any typos, grammar errors, or punctuation errors.
You do NOT want your first page to have an error on it. Nothing spells “unprofessional” like an error on the very first page.
The editor or agent will see that one little error and it will negatively tinge his/her impression of the entire manuscript and of your writing. You don’t want even a slightly negative thought to enter the editor’s mind as he reads. You don’t want even a question of your professionalism to niggle at the agent’s brain as she scans that first page.
Now, I’m not saying that an error means an automatic rejection. But because the industry right now is so tough, you don’t want to give any bad impressions on that editor or agent whatsoever. If you can get rid of those little errors, do it. It might be the deciding factor between your manuscript and another one with lots of typos.
Wouldn’t you want the editor to request your manuscript because it’s both professional and captivating? If it’s captivating but full of typos and the editor has only limited time to read full manuscripts, she might not request your story because the typos put her off.
So spend even MORE time checking your pages for errors. If you’re not confident about your sense of grammar and punctuation, then ask for help—either critique partners whose grammar/punctuation sense you completely trust, or a freelance editor who can look at the first chapter.
To be continued.