Editing. That’s the mammoth task every writer must face in the process of publishing a book. I know some writers don’t bother—you can easily spot their eBooks like you can an elephant in your corn chowder—but editing is the one essential task that must be done and done to a specific professional level to gain success and respect in self-publishing. It can’t be half-assed, sped through or done with no knowledge on how to do it.
Readers will notice. Other writers will notice too. Even my ten-year-old can spot a spelling mistake.
Unedited books also become fair game to reviewers. Some will politely tell the author there are mistakes or that “this is a good first draft” or “it has potential”, but most will not be so kind.
Here are a few actual one-star reviews from Amazon
…bountiful grammatical errors, run on sentences, and random, mid-paragraph POV jumping, and I couldn’t finish the book
Written like the author is in fifth grade there are run on sentences, excessive use of adjectives, stuff that just doesn’t make any sense, missing words, no background, dialogue split up by random information dumps, etc. This novel is in desperate need of editing.
Dear author: I was considering reading your novel–BUT–the terrible sentences in the description bode a warning loud and clear: your book will be very poorly written. Rife with dangling modifiers, rambling out-of-control sentences, incorrect verb tenses, grammatical gaffes, misplaced commas, an excess of adjectives and hyperbolic phrasing, the writing in the description makes a reader want to pull his or her hair out in mental anguish (my high school students have more sentence control than is demonstrated here)
The solution to avoiding harsh reviews such as these is to learn to edit your own work, and when you think it’s ready to be published, send it to an editor. Their job is to find the remaining 99% of the mistakes you missed.
But let me first say, “Editors are not perfect.”
I’ve read many books—both traditionally and untraditionally published—and found errors. No editor is perfect and no book is perfect. Look long enough or apply your style of editing and you’ll find something in every book.
Overall I believe it is the writer’s job to find 80% of the mistakes in a first draft manuscript; the editor will correct 19%, leaving 1% to be found by readers. This percentage can change if the writer cannot or will not edit themselves, but if writers don’t take the time to edit their own work, two things will happen:
1) The story may be told differently than what the writer intended because the editor will make the tough decisions.
2) The editing process will cost a lot more, either doubling or tripling in price, because the editor has to do their job as well as that of the writer.
Tomorrow’s post discusses the steps in which I take to edit my work.
Diane Tibert is a writer, columnist, editor and publisher. Need an editor or someone to format your eBook or book for CreateSpace? Check out her prices here.