This is perhaps the easiest thing to fix for self-publishers.
Hire an editor!
Not your mom. Not your best friend. A real life editor.
It's going to cost money, but will be so worth it in the end.
Let's look at some examples of bad grammar. See if you can catch the mistakes.
Verb Tense Mistakes--
1. I go to church and sang in the choir.
2. I love to drink mild and ate chocolate cake.
3. Jesse and Heather is going to the movies on Friday.
4. I likes my puppy.
5. Maddie and Kennedy forgot her lunch money.
6. Everyone forgot their jacket.
7. He couldn't hardly believe she left him.
8. I never wanted none of your lies.
Some people have problems with fragments and run-on sentences. Although I agree they should be used carefully, I'm a big fan of fragments for driving home something with punch. Plus, inside my mind are lots of fragments and tremendously long run-on sentences. :) It's natural...sometimes.
Okay, were those examples really easy to catch?
Of course they were. Those were not your sentences or part of the story that's been taking up room in your head for the last few months. You were looking for mistakes. Some people can train themselves to self edit their own work. I am NOT one of those. When I reread my story I often skim through. I'll never catch all the little mistakes or typos.
Quick word on typos:
Most of my typos come from moving paragraphs or sentences around by cut and paste. Sometimes a word is left behind and it makes for a weird sentence. Other typos are from using the wrong spelling of a word--they're, there, their or to, too, etc.
When you hire an editor, they are coming in with fresh eyes and they know their job is to find the little mistakes.
Why are those little things so important?Because they throw your reader out of the story. You want each person reading your book to become immersed in the world and the problems of your characters. They don't want to remember they're reading words someone wrote. I know I don't. I want to escape reality for a couple of hours.
One or two little mistakes are not a big deal. But page after page of them will frustrate your reader and prevent them from forming the emotional connection needed to get lost in your book.
Questions for You:Have you ever given up on a book because of bad grammar or typos?
Have you worked with an editor that you've loved? Please share their name and website in the comments!
I don't think I've ever quit reading a book simply because of grammar or typos, but those books rarely get more than 3 stars when I rate or review.
Two of my books were edited by Amie McCracken. I love, LOVE, love her! She has an amazing website that details the different types of edits available (if this post weren't so long I'd go over them). She is a professed lover of Indie authors and willing to work out pricing deals.
And one more because I couldn't resist. (Go to google and look up images for bad grammar for lots of laughs)
Daily Writing Tips
The Elements of Style
Common Errors in English Usage
Guide to Grammar and Writing