As noted yesterday, editing is important. Nothing ruins what would otherwise be a good story faster than typos, misspelled words, misuse of homonyms, poor sentence structure, too many adverbs, etc.
The first level of editing is your responsibility as the author. You will miss things such as typos and missing words because you will “see” what you expect to be there. One way to avoid this is to read your work out loud. That way you are more likely to focus on the words on the page and notice anything missing.
It’s also helpful for line editing. If you find yourself saying something different than what’s written, it is likely a hint that you should reword it accordingly. If it’s awkward when read aloud, it needs to change. A few of my books have been produced as audio books. In a few cases, my narrator caught some awkward sentences that were reworded for clarity, demonstrating how well that works.
Beta readers are worth their weight in gold. Make sure your story is as good as you can possibly make it yourself before sending it out to them. You waste their time as well as your own when they pick up issues you could have fixed yourself with one more edit.
Definitely spellcheck! There’s no excuse for spelling errors! Proper usage of homonyms (e.g. their, there, and they’re) is one thing spellcheckers will miss as well as simply typing the wrong word. We all tend to read right over them in our own work, but there’s no excuse for blatant garden-variety typos that a spellchecker should catch.
I have made this mistake before and had things pointed out that I planned to fix. My first draft tends primarily to be action and dialog, any imagery and emotion sometimes missing entirely, or more of the “tell” mode instead of the preferred “show.” I have learned to wait until I’ve really polished the story to my own satisfaction before handing it over to a critique group or beta reader. Bear in mind it is probably the only version of your story that they’ll ever read. Don’t you want it to be your best work?
A fellow author/friend told me she uses a text-to-voice reading app for proofreading as well as finding typos and awkward wording in her novels. If your book will eventually become an audio book this is an even better idea. Besides finding mistakes, this is a tremendously useful self-editing tip that puts your writing in another sensory dimension that provides new insights into your story’s effectivity.
Whenever you’re reading and encounter something annoying that bumps you out of the story, take a moment to consider whether you do the same thing, but have been blind to it. You can increase your skill as an author by noting when something stands out in another person’s work, whether it’s positive and negative.