Tip #13 Importance of editing
I cannot emphasize this enough: HAVE YOUR WORK PROFESSIONALY EDITED!
I was screaming. Did you notice?
I am a self-published author, so I say this with love because I’ve been where you want to be. It’s exciting to have your manuscript finished after months of laboring over nouns, verbs, characters, plots and all of the other elements that go into birthing a new book. I say it is with love because I’ve been there–hungry, chomping at the bit. Ready to wear that title of Published Author.
I finished and wanted everyone to read Brotherly Love and Betrayal in 2006. I figured that since I wrote it and it was good, people even said it was good, it should be printed. Even though I went over it several times with a fine-toothed comb, even though a well-respected friend who is also a professional technical writer went over it with her fine-toothed comb, it wasn’t enough.
Q: Would you let your manicurist remove an ingrown toenail?
A: Of course not!
It may seem appropriate to get your auntie who’s taught fifth grade English for twenty-five years to edit your manuscript, but please resist the urge to email it to her. Don’t do it. Professional editors know what to look for, how words should flow, what works in literature and what doesn’t. Some things should be left to the professionals to handle.
My story: I finished BLB in 2006 and was so freaking excited when my friend and I finished our edits, that I designed a generic cover (that’s another blog post) and uploaded all of my files to one of the on-demand publishers for publication.
I watched the sales numbers roll in and was too excited. People actually bought something I’d written. How cool was that?
Although the story was loved, readers mentioned grammatical errors on several occasions. I was horrified. What happened? I thought I was smart. My friend was smart. What did we miss? One reviewer noted how great the story was but also noted that the grammatical errors didn’t distract her from the story. If they didn’t distract her from the story, they wouldn’t have been on her mind to mention in the review. It turns out she was an editor. Ouch.
I’d written a great story, but the errors were noteworthy.
Lesson learned: Hire a professional editor.
I ended my relationship with the print-on-demand company, hired a cover designer and got the person who mentioned the grammatical errors to re-edit the book. It turned out to be a win-win because Brotherly Love and Betrayal is still my best-selling book to date, and I have awesome reviews that still trickle in on Amazon.
Once you’ve been around a while, studied other authors, networked enough, and researched your butt off, you’ll soon know who the editors are. Read your favorite book. Look in the acknowledgements to see who edited the book. Ask your favorite author who they use.
Self-published authors get a bad reputation because of crappy editing, lack of story development and oftentimes home-made looking book covers like my first one. (On the flip side, some books have professional covers but the story is an illiterate nightmare.)
Professional editing isn’t cheap and if you find someone who seems too good to be true, they probably are. (I won’t throw out cost because this post is about having a professional, high quality, polished product, not editing prices.) I had my current novel, Too Many Lies, edited three different times by three different editors. After my final edit late last year, I still had a professional do a final proofread before I declared it ready to publish.
I’ve learned a lot over the years. The main thing I’ve learned is that I am my book. My book is me. We are one. If my book is bad, I’m bad. People will associate me with what I produce. If I produce something thrown together and not professional, I will be viewed in the same manner. I don’t want to be the woman who writes novels that are riddled with grammatical errors. Of course things do slip by and I get that. Like I said in the beginning, I’m saying this with love because I’ve been there, done that and I’m not perfect. However, I do labor over what I type and have been known to delete a social media post if I have a typo. Sometimes I’ll even shoot a post to a friend to proof before posting on social media or here on the blog.
Mistakes do happen. We all make them. Some even slip by editors. Just make sure you take care of your baby because your baby represents you.
Peace and blessings,
(Lord Jesus, please don’t let there be any typos in this post!)