Unfortunately, the mistakes left uncorrected can compromise the success of your submission. You can have a sophisticated, well argued thesis supported by compelling evidence with cogent analysis. If your work is riddled with grammatical errors or improperly formatted, however, you are going to frustrate your editors and annoy your readers. It’s an easy way to undermine your own effort. A reviewer who picks up what they perceive to be a sloppy document is going to be annoyed, and they will make it very clear that they think the author is lazy, careless, or a bad writer. Also, excessive mistakes will distract the reader from the main content. Publishing is competitive as it is; don’t introduce additional reasons for a reviewer to have an unfavorable opinion of your manuscript!
You may believe that some of the writing issues will be resolved in the editing process, and that is partially true. Your manuscript will surely be formatted properly, so that it fits the layout requirements of the journal or book publisher. You might be able to work with a copyeditor towards the end of the copyediting process, but certainly not before reviewers read your work. In any case, university presses are cash strapped; because of this, they are pushing a lot of the editorial work back to the author. There may not be a copyeditor or proofreader who can give your work a significant amount of attention. When do they hire copyeditors and proofreaders, they do not intend for these freelancers to read multiple drafts. Why does that matter to you? It matters because your rough work may not be polished to be the very best version possible.
Increasingly, clients are coming to me just before they submit a manuscript for consideration for publication. In some cases, they tell me that acquisitions editors have advised them to have their manuscript professionally edited before the editor will send it to reviewers. In the process of completing this copyediting, I come across mistakes that are obvious to me as a new reader, but understandably overlooked by a writer who has been working with the manuscript for months or even years. I’ve identified some of the mistakes I encounter most frequently in the checklist included below. I hope it can help you to submit with confidence that you’ve done everything you can to put that final polish on your manuscript.