Tuesday, March 27, 2012


I recently decided to have a few copies of my novel printed off, courtesy of Pen Press, for friends and family to read - whether they like it or not. No seriously, they want to. They DO.

I decided it might be prudent to have it professionally copy-edited first. There's nothing worse than reading a book filled with typos and grammar glitches - though I can't 100% guarantee a few won't have slipped through the net.

It seemed like a lot of money to invest, but I figured if I don't secure a traditional publishing deal, I may want to self-publish at some point so it's money well-spent, and writers services offered what I thought was a reasonable rate, and did a first class job.

They rather flatteringly said there wasn't much to do (hardly surprising when I've revised the damn novel about a million times) but I was shocked - nay, embarrassed - by my considerable overuse - and misuse - of the humble hyphen.

Dear-oh-dear. I had NO idea I used it so indiscriminately, and completely without thought. On every page they leapt out - car-park, pork-pies, hair-brush* to name but a few.

I had no idea. I do now. After a good old trawl on the Interweb, requainting myself with their useage, I've realised these cheerful chaps, with their constant interruptions, have got to go.

I'm so glad I had the edit now. My mum's a devil for punctuation and once she'd seen my faux pas I'd never have lived it down.

(I had to check there wasn't a hyphen in faux pas.)

* This isn't a fair representation of what my novel's about. I promise.


Anonymous said...

Hehe - thanks for the reminder. I may go searching in mine now... I get a feeling they creep in like dreams when the laptop is in "sleep" mode.

Patsy said...

Oh 'eck - you've got me worrying about mone now.

Diane Fordham said...

There is so much to think about when editing isn't there? Years ago I had a novel manuscript assessed and got asked, what was with all the exclamation marks? I've been paranoid about exclamation marks ever since!!!!!

Librarian said...

Poor little hyphens! :-) I use them a lot, I'm afraid... my excuse is that, in German, we use very long words, and so when I write in English, I use many more shorter words to express what in German would have made one long snake of a word, which then has a tendency of making me put hyphens in between.

Sherri said...

Never mind the hyphens - I want me a copy of that book - I'll pay of course, just in case you thought I was being cheeky!
I do hope you ordered enough!!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Glad to hear you've had your novel published! It's not just hyphens - the punctuation used in publishing these days changes all the time, and less seems to be the buzzword just now, especially in modern poetry.

Teresa Ashby said...

It's funny, but I'm busily typing up my old magazine stories (the discs I'd stored them on became corrupted and the only copies I have are in the mags) and there are hyphens everywhere! Not to mention exclamation marks! But you just don't seem to see them so much these days x

Solace Utara said...

Ooh you're so lucky to be able to publish a novel! I've been wanting to publish mines.. but I could go only as far as putting it on my blog. I need to revise it and stuff. :)

Suzanne Ross Jones said...

You'll never convince me that hyphens - and indeed dashes, which I'm irrationally fond of - aren't a good idea.

I've tagged you over at my blog.


Caroline said...

Ummm I with Suzanne - I love my em-dashes, not to mention my hyphens! Caroline x

Anna Scott Graham said...

I'm not as big on hyphens as I am semi-colons! I love semi-colons; I like to use them as if taking a breath. Perhaps readers wish i would just turn blue already.

How wonderful to have that novel in your hands!!

Deborah Carr (Debs) said...

I'm editing at the moment and must admit I hadn't thought of hyphens. Opps.

Good idea giving your family copies of your book, I'm sure they'll enjoy reading it.

Karen said...

Freya, I had no idea I was even doing it. In fact I'm sure someone put them there while I wasn't looking!

I suppose there are worse crimes, Patsy - I'm quite good with apostrophes!

Ooh I used to be terrible with exclamation marks too Diane, but have learnt the error of my ways :o)

Librarian, you put forward a very good case for the humble hyphen - I'm impressed :o)

You're welcome to read a copy Bernadette - it won't have a proper cover as such, but will at least look like an actual book!

I'm still waiting for them to arrive, Rosemary, and cringing about what mistakes might still be lurking!

Well I'm glad I'm not the only over-user Teresa :o) I was an exclamation mark abuser too! !!! (They just look so friendly!)

Thanks for popping by Solace :o) I can highly recommend a proper edit - even if the novel is only for family and friends!

I can't really argue with that, Suzanne. I might even sneak a few back in ... And thank you for the tag :o)

Em-dashes are a whole other ball game (ball-game?) Caroline - I daren't even go there!

I used to massively overdo the semi-colons too Anna, sticking them in all over the place! I don't know where these bad habits come from, but they're hard to get rid of.

I hope they will, Debs. I'm a bit nervous about it, to be honest!

Anna May said...

It annoys me when writers over

Anna May x

Annieye said...

I am guilty of over-hyphenating (!) too. I like to think my grammar is OK, but it's the little things that catch me out, like whether or not to use a comma before the word 'too'.

I recently bought 'Strictly English' by Simon Heffer and couldn't put it down. (I am a very sad person, obviously!)

Susie Vereker said...

I can't wait to read your books, hyphenated or not.

Lydia said...

We all have our foibles. I would thoroughly recommend "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" by Lynne Truss. Quite apart from setting you straight on so many points of punctuation, it will have you laughing out loud. (Or at least I did, but maybe that just makes me sad!)
Interested to hear your experience with self-publishing "proper" book. I've only got as far as e-publishing! x