Proofreading your work is the most important action you can perform before pressing the publish button. An error-free post sends an unconscious signal to the reader that you care about your writing.
I can’t count the times I have found a beautiful post, especially a poem, ruined over a misspelled word, an incomplete phrase, or another grammatical error. The flow is brought up short and the reader loses her concentration.
I opened Twitter yesterday and read a post by a writer plugging his self-published novel. I don’t usually open links to read excerpts, but did in this case; the title and cover art pulled me in. Actually, now that I think about it, the writer’s blurb is what caught my eye. Were I an agent, his blurb would have led me to read more.
Anyway, the excerpt disappointed me when I read this:”… I should been the one to look out for her.” The omission of “have” after should was jarring, and caused me to change my mind about reading on. Should I have continued reading? What’s one error in a novel of probably 80,000 words? Is it unfair to the writer to hold one error against him? In this case, yes: the writer should have proofread his excerpt before posting it. He wants people to buy his book, but doesn’t take the time to proofread before posting. He rushed to post. Fatal error.
I hold writers to high standards. This isn’t grade school. We’re putting our writing out there for others to read. We are judged by others based on the quality of our writing. Writing and posting in a hurry leads to errors. Writing a poem and posting without proofreading is a terrible thing to do. Reading a beautiful poem and finding a misspelled word makes me want to cry.
I would like to be judged a good writer based on the quality of my writing. A 200 word post should be as carefully proofread as an 80, 000 word novel.