Thursday, August 23, 2012

Editing... you gotta do it.

There was a pretty interesting article on Dear Author the other day regarding Objectivity vs. Subjectivity when talking about writing. In the wake of the self-publishing bonanza what a lot of readers are finding is that while they may actually enjoy the story, they are somewhat frustrated by the over abundance of grammatical errors.

Apparently there is also backlash from some authors who get upset when these errors are pointed out. They feel pointing out the errors is picky on the part of the reader and their work should be judged based on the overall story and not on the “rules” which let’s face it can be debatable.

SIDENOTE: Authors should never respond to criticism publicly. Period. The end. I don’t care if you think you need to or you think you are justified. If you are a professional – just don’t do it. Ever. That’s what friends, husbands and in my case pets are for!

Now back to editing… My view on this is pretty hard line. Mistakes will happen. Many people can read a manuscript and all miss the typo or incorrect word choice because our brain will naturally correct things within context. But to not edit a book at all - which I was actually stunned to read that several self-published authors admitted they didn’t because of the cost and other reasons – in my opinion is not “publishing”.

All you did was write and sell. And you broke faith with the reader who you told this was a “published” book that you felt was worthy enough for payment.

My books at Harlequin are screened no less than 5 times! My self-published work was screened 3 times. (That’s not including all the times I did it myself.) And yes, Got Game is probably less clean than my Harlequin titles as a result.

So to not have someone besides the author edit it AT ALL to me is nearly criminal and those books should be sold with the disclaimer – “This book was not edited by an independent party.”

Yes, it costs money to hire someone. And the reason a “professional” author should be willing to pay that person is because what the editor does is not simple or easy. Yes it takes more time to edit. An author has to incorporate all the changes someone is suggesting back into the work once it’s edited. Not fun. But an author should be willing to take this time to have a better finished product. Because as a professional the product is what counts.

Throwing non-edited material up on Amazon hoping that you’re going to hit the self-publishing lottery is destructive to writers and readers everywhere. It’s going to lower the overall quality of what’s available. It’s going set expectations lower than it ever has been before. And worse it’s going to make readers wary of everything out there in terms of what they buy.

We’re all adjusting to this new world. And I think the new world is great and exciting. But if we as writers are going to do this - on our own or with a traditional publisher – we at least have to agree that a book isn’t a “book” until it has been edited by someone else. Until then it’s just a manuscript.

I have no doubt there were probably typos throughout this post. Why? Because it wasn’t edited by someone other than me.


Anonymous said...

Love that post, Steph and absolutely true. I'm reticent about buying self-published because quality of writing is so important to enjoying a story.
It should become a tag line. Externally edited.

Maureen McGowan said...

And of course, not all editing is equal either. I think quite a few people without professional editing experience or credentials are hanging out their proverbial shingles as editors. And some of them might be great at it. But I assume some will not be.

But bottom line: I can't imagine putting something out there that hadn't been professionally edited.

Molly O'Keefe said...

i have so many mistakes in can't buy me love - it's insane. And that had five passes too - mistakes happen and get by professionals, but without that professional eye on it - HOLY SHIT! It's insane not to pay someone to do the work. Bad form.

Eileen said...

I can't even type and send an email without making a mistake. A whole book? Eesh.

It will be interesting to see how it all plays out. Readers are definitely going to start to realize the differences between a professional production and an unprofessional one.

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