I was having a hard time titling this post because my mind blanked. I was going to title it “minutiae is my specialty,” but then I remembered that “minutiae” is a plural noun. “Minutiae are my specialty” made it sound like I was trying too hard (like those annoying people who insist on using proper grammar in every aspect of their speech), so I took advantage of one of the myriad uses of the comma.
Anyway, before I get too sidetracked while explaining my crazy thought process… the point of this post is that editing matters. If you think skipping editing in your quest for publication is OK and you can rely on readers to find errors after you’ve put your work out in the public eye, think again.* You cannot always catch your own errors, and if you do, you often catch them too late. (I’m sure you’ve had those terrible, stomach-dropping moments when you realized that you sent an email with a mistake in it just seconds after you actually hit “Send.” And as Murphy’s Law would dictate, it was most likely a very important email.)
Formatting minutiae matter, too. If you’ve ever picked up a self-published book and noticed funky line spacing, margins that are just a bit too wide, or copy that’s littered with extra keyboard spaces, then you probably won’t trust the author to tell you a good story as much as you would if she had paid attention to the formatting. Oh, it’s just an extra space. It doesn’t matter, the author might say. Nobody will notice. That kind of thinking is dangerous because it leads to dismissing so many of those little things that they gang up and overtake the work, making it appear sloppy.
However, the great big caveat is that perfection is nonexistent. In your own work, picking at the minutiae (or having someone else do it) is important, but it is equally important not to get too bogged down in it and know when to let go. As writers (and editors), this is a fine line to tread.
*And believe me, they will find errors after you’ve published… and they will never let you forget them. Best to edit before publication.