So You Think You Don’t Need an Editor, Part 3

wtf graphicThere are time when I get a little weary trying to explain to newbie authors why they need to have their manuscripts professionally edited.  Sometimes they get it, other times they don’t. (Sigh.)  So, if for no other reason, have your manuscript professionally edited and proofread so your readers won’t go onto forums and rip your book to shreds.

Never, ever assume your reader is stupid. They’ve just paid good money for your book. They’re used to reading well edited books, and they expect your book to be well edited too. If it isn’t, they will be disappointed at best. At worst they’ll feel like they’ve been ripped-off. They may write you a bad review, or they may go on-line to reader’s forums and point out your mistakes. Either way, your dirty laundry just got hung out to dry, and your career as an author may have just come to an untimely end. That said, I’m going to paraphrase some of the avoidable errors I’ve seen mentioned in online forums. (Please note that if you are reading this in a language other than English some of the errors I’ve listed below may not apply in your language.)

  • A leading lady gets into a Handsome Cab. (As opposed to a hansom cab. Perhaps the cab driver was handsome.)
  • The leading man is locked in a dudgeon. (That must be where the threw the stupid prisoners.  No doubt the others were locked in the dungeon.)
  • He wrapped his arms around her waste. (Yuk! I’m seeing a really nasty visual with that one. Hopefully the next time he’ll wrap his arms around her waist.)
  • During a sex scene he’s having an organism. (There’s an interesting twist to a love scene. After his tryst is over he’ll need to see a doctor.)
  • He would gather her up in his arts. What? You mean he put her body parts into his sculptures?  Sounds like that old Vincent Price movie about the wax museum. I’d much prefer that he’d gathered her in his arms.)

What do all these faux paus have in common? According to the forum I was reading, they all came out of self-published books. Yes, it’s funny to us, but not so much to the authors who wrote them.  What’s sad is that these are just a few of the kind of mistakes that a good editor will catch, and correct.

Still think you don’t need an editor? Well, if you don’t mind being laughed at on a public forum then maybe you don’t. However, if you want to be taken seriously as an author, and if you want your book to be successful, you’d better find yourself a good editor.

My tip for the day.

GM

So You Think You Don’t Need an Editor, Part 2

pen&paperIn my previous article, So You Think You Don’t Need an Editor – Part One, I discussed the fact that your editor is a fresh pair of eyes to go over your manuscript and give it the polish it needs to become a successful book.

I know for many of you money is tight, and unless you’re one of the very few lucky writers who gets picked up by a traditional publisher, you’re going to have to invest some of your own money into producing your book. Typically, at least in my part of the county, a good editor will charge around one or two cents per word, which means for an 80,000 to 100,000 word manuscript you’re looking at spending around $1000 to $1500. I know it’s a lot of money, and I know that some of you are tempted to take shortcuts. My advice: Don’t do it.

For example, it’s tempting to ask your friends, you cousin, of even your mom to do your editing, and while these folks can offer good suggestions, unless they have a background in journalism, teaching English, or other professional writing experience, they’re really not qualified for the job. Let me give you an example of what happens when you ask your friend or relative to do a job that should be handled by a professional. One of my friends once told me she had her mother help her with her income tax return. Her mother had no accounting or bookkeeping experience, and needless to say, her return ended up being audited by the IRS. They came after her, not only for the additional taxes that she owed, but with penalties and interest as well. She ended up paying far more for the penalties and interest than what she would have spent on a qualified tax-preparer. Likewise, when you have an unqualified person edit your book, it too can come back with penalties and interest in the form of bad reviews.

Remember, your editor really isn’t interested in changing your content. They are looking for things such as incorrect homonyms, dangling participles, improper paragraph formatting and other things that make you look like an amateur.

We’ve entered a time when anyone with a pulse and a computer can upload a book on Amazon Kindle and call themselves an author, which means the market is now flooded with badly written books. I’m reading all kinds of comments about this on various forums from frustrated readers who are tired of bad books and want some sort of vetting process. If you want to get those five-star reviews to make you stand out from all those amateurs then find yourself an experienced professional book editor.  Nothing will kill your writing career faster than having a poorly-written book with bad reviews.

My tip for the day.

GM

So You Think You Don’t Need an Editor–Part One

bookwglassesOne comment I often hear from first time authors is, “I don’t need an editor.  I can do my own editing.

Really?

Okay, before I go off on my tangent, I’ll admit I resemble that remark. When I wrote my very first book, Anna’s Kitchen, I too naively thought I didn’t need an editor. In fact, I was such a smart aleck at the time that I thought I knew everything, never mind the fact that I had never written a book before in my life. As far as I was concerned, the spell checker in my word processing software was all I needed. So how did I do?  Well, you may want to refer to my post titled, Just Add Two Tablespoons of Fate. Sure, I can laugh about it now, but it’s a splendid example of why all authors, and especially new authors, simply must have an editor.

An editor is a fresh pair of eyes to go over your manuscript and give it the added polish it needs to turn it into a great book. They are not as much concerned about the content of your work as they are the structure. They look for things such as misspelled words, typos, comma spliced sentences, dangling participles, incorrect homonyms, redundancy, and all the other gaffes that you, as the writer, may have overlooked. The reason why you’re not seeing them is because you’re too involved with your own work to see it objectively. That’s normal, and it’s very human. It’s the same reason why doctors don’t treat themselves or members of their own families.

Some of you reading this may still be skeptical, or you may even think your writing skills are so superior that you simply don’t need an editor. If that’s the case then all I can tell you is that writing can be a very humbling experience. There is nothing quite like having your readers point out all your errors for you and post them on the Internet for the entire world to see. Once that happens your credibility as an author is pretty much shot, and you can kiss your writing career goodbye.

What do Danielle Steel, James Patterson, Mary Higgins Clark, Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, and Dean Koontz all have in common? They all have an editor. And if these authors all have editors, then what makes you think you don’t need one?

My thought for the day.

GM