Sounds crazy? Fear of the typo. That’s the latest thing that has been keeping me from my destiny as the next female John Grisham. Like most budding novelists, I spends loads of time reading how-to-books, writer’s magazines and prowling the internet for advice from the already haves. A common thing that most agents say turns them off, is receiving a submission riddled with typos and grammatical errors. So I became a little obsessive when putting together my latest “agent package.” What’s in an agent package? Query letter, synopsis, sample chapters and SASE – so that it’s easier to reject you.
I’ve had my novel completed for a year – over a year actually. Every week I find some new reason not to send it to an agent. Reasons like 100 revisions are not enough – I must complete 101. Belle (my dog) ate the synopsis and we’re out of printer paper. It’s raining so the package will get wet if I take it to the post office ergo I must wait for a sunny day. The latest reason is that in my mind one typo means automatic rejection. So I went through the sample chapters line by line questioning how to spell everything from the word “the” to whether or not freckle-faced redhead should be hyphenated. My copy of The Elements of Style is permanently bent from flipping through the pages checking all the grammar rules that I learned so long ago. But after a frustrating day on the job, I woke up extra early the next morning, closed the door to my writing room and forced myself to assemble the package. The day after that (today), I went to the post office and put it in the mail – typos, grammatical error and all. Look at it this way – book editors need jobs too.
And you know what happened? Absolutely nothing. The post master didn’t call Homeland Security and report me for trying to mail hazardous typos through the U. S. Mail. The security devices (do people steal so many stamps that it’s necessary to have security devices at the post office or is the world so crazy that those things are trying to detect something else?) weren’t set off by the typos in my sample chapters. The brat next to me whose mother pretended not to notice that her “angel” kept poking me in the leg didn’t run away terrorized by my typos. You get the point. My lesson learned for the week is that we can take something small, magnify it and let it totally prevent us from achieving our dream. I re-read my chapters several times, had a friend read my entire novel and edit it, and my sister, Francine, read my synopsis. If a typo or grammatical error got through then it was just meant to be. You will probably notice several typos in this post. But don’t panic – really it’s okay.