But I am shocked by how many submissions I receive in which even rudimentary editing is missing. I suspect some people are lazy, some are bad at catching their own errors, and a great many others figure that EC is "just about fairy tales" and high standards aren't necessary.
I'm not being bitter with that last point. People who edit horror stories or romances or westerns know that millions of people see all genre fiction as simple-minded stuff. They just assume that if a work doesn't send them to the Google machine every other page, it must be easy to write and the editors must have low standards. So why bother to edit? Surely the editor will be grateful for an effort from a mind that is really too good for fairy tales, but condescended to submit anyway. Just for fun.
No matter what the reason for failing to edit well, it will cost you, because there are always excellent submissions with few or no errors. Editors don't need to bother to finish reading a submission that has three errors in the first paragraph. I certainly don't. And, I repeat, I am not especially hard on writers about error.
So, what should you do to reduce errors in your writing? First, don't wait until the last minute. Hurried writing is messy writing. Second, have an editor in your life. My editor is my husband. (He's a mechanical engineer, but he can spot an error faster that most people with degrees in English.) Find a smart person who loves you enough to point out your errors. Don't be shy!
In addition, try to read your work in a new format before you send it. Example: If you have a printer, print your poem or story out, and look it over carefully, reading it out loud and marking errors on the page. Reading out loud helps you hear your mistakes. Seeing your story or poem in a new format, from screen to page, really does the trick for writers on the alert for errors.
Finally, always read your story or poem one last time before pressing send.
Don't let your writing die the death of a thousand cuts. All of those little errors add up!
Illustration by Kay Nielsen.