In my first article, So You Think You Don’t Need an Editor, Part One, I described what a book editor does. In my second article, So You Think You Don’t Need an Editor, Part Two, I talked about who would be the most qualified to edit your book. In this final article of the series, I’m going to discuss what readers expect when they buy your book.
Readers really do notice
Never, ever assume your reader is stupid. He or she has paid good money for your book. He or she used to reading well written and edited books and expects your book to be well written and edited too.
It’s also a given that not everyone will like your book. The subject matter may not be of interest to the reader, or the reader may not agree with your point of view. As writers we expect to have a small percentage of readers return our books and ask for refunds. It’s part of the business of writing and publishing books. However, the last thing any writer wants or needs is for a reader to reject the book because it was poorly written or edited.
Don’t let the joke be at your expense
None of us are perfect. We all make mistakes, but because we can’t view our work objectively we oftentimes miss our gaffes. The list below came from one of my writing forums, and it’s typical of the mistakes we all make. I’ve paraphrased it to protect the guilty.
- A character gets into a Handsome Cab. (As opposed to a hansom cab. Perhaps the cab driver was handsome.)
- The lead character 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 here. Hopefully the next time he’ll wrap his arms around her waist.)
- During a sex scene a character is having an organism. (There’s an interesting twist to a love scene. After the tryst is over he or she will need to see a doctor.)
- He would gather her up in his arts. (What? You mean he put her body parts into his sculptures? Like Vincent Price did in the movie Wax Museum? I’d much prefer that he gather her in his arms.)
What do all these faux paus have in common? They all, allegedly, were found in self-published books. And while it may be funny to us, it’s certainly not as funny to the authors who wrote them. These are just a few of the mistakes that a good editor will catch, and correct.
So you 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 need find yourself a good editor.