We've all done it. I don't care how well published you are or how new to the industry you are, but we've all sent something out with a big fat humbling and in most cases highly visible typo--and usually more than one. It's unavoidable. No matter how many times you read through a manuscript, you are bound to miss things from time to time.
If you've recently sent something out to an agent or editor and realized you've left in some conspicuous typos, don't freak out. Take a step back and know that it happens to everyone. Besides, if someone was going to bounce you out of consideration for a typo or two (or even a couple more) in your 250 page manuscript, possibly it's someone you wouldn't want to work with anyhow. Clearly, there are flagrant typos in some manuscripts, wherein the reader is tripping over one in every paragraph, that's not going to fly, but everyone, from writers, to agents, to editors, miss things now and again. After all, we are only human and if humans were perfect, there would never be typos in published books--bestselling books--books that have been combed through by the author, editor, readers, and copy editors, among others. I mean, it happens. It does. Period.
Tips for catching typos:
Print it out: Print out the full manuscript. Somehow a lot more typos slip by the naked eye staring at a monitor, than when you hold the physical manuscript, knocking out typos like Mike Tyson with your almighty red pen.
Read your work out loud: This requires you to read every word from start to finish. Time consuming and dry throat inducing? Yes, but a lot more effective than skimming through it silently.
Let your work sit a while: This is a hard one for me, as I'm about as patient as a stock broker, but do it. Even if it's just overnight, let your work sit. This will cause you to read your words more thoroughly and thoughtfully the next day, rather than flying through something you were just working on.
A second set of eyes: When time permits, I always have my husband read through my work before I send it off. Since he's reading it for the first time, it's far easier for him to catch "to" versus "too" than it would be for my tired eyes.
Okay, truth time. In my first manuscript I had typos. I think you've probably figured that out by now. After I caught them (which was after I hit "send") I sat at my laptop and cringed, wondering how on earth I could have missed something so glaringly obvious (note: it was only glaringly obvious to me). I probably read through the manuscript at least 50 times, but there they were, "shutters" instead of "shudders", "there" instead of "their". You get the picture. I wondered if I'd be automatically rejected, heck, even black balled! Yes, I was (and still am) a bit of a wackadoodle. But hey, I still got published! Luckily, the typos did not. ;)
Long story short, there will generally be normal inconsequential typos somewhere in something you send out. Don't sweat it. It doesn't change your story or your hard work. It only makes you human.
PS: If there are typos in this post, please blame typo cat. He posted it for me!