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Friday, December 7, 2012

Writer + Editor = Good Business

It is with great sadness that I write this article tonight. I just completed the project from hell and decided to give myself a treat. So I pulled out my NOOK and read a friends self-published novel. There are many wonderful self-pubs, so I am not prejudiced against them. However, I am prejudiced against sloppy writing and editing.

Romance writers are fortunate to have groups in almost every state (courtesy of RWA) where they can go and learn about the craft of writing. Yes, there are people who are naturally adept at telling a good story, but there is so much more to putting the words down on paper than there is to relating a tale. 

Good writing is not easy. You can struggle for hours to come up with the right word, and then you strike that blasted word from your manuscript during the rewrite portion of the creation process. That is what a good writer does when there are words or phrases that don't work, no matter how much they had to struggle to get those words.

In the last few days I have read three indie books. One was a humorous romance, which left me feeling happy I had read it. One was a paranormal I wasn't sure I would enjoy. It was Book Three in a series, and I hadn't read One or Two. The story was strong and only included a line or two about past characters that were still active in Three. The author didn't bog it down with too much back story. It was a wonderfully imaginative story. It was clear both these authors had employed good editors.

The third book was a contemporary romance. It had a good story line, that got lost in bad editing. There were several times I would have thrown the book against the wall, but I was reading on my NOOK and I didn't want to damage it. The author told much more than she showed. There were homophones galore. Major repetition. And the biggest crime of all, at one point the the author used the wrong name for the heroine's son. 

Thanks to Indie publishing, every Tom, Dick, or Harriet who has ever taken an English class is setting up a shingle offering their editorial services. This is where you have to be careful and look at your perspective editor's credentials. Just because someone was an English teacher, it doesn't mean they know how to edit fiction.

Another friend of mine had hired an editor, but once my friend uploaded her book, people started contacting her about all the mistakes. She had to take the book down and correct the problems. She was so embarrassed that anyone had seen the uncorrected version. Not a good way to run a business. It's like owning a restaurant with a top notch chef and serving the food on dirty plates.

A good editor can take a good story and turn it into a superior work of art. A bad editor can take an excellent story and make it unreadable. Choose your editor like you do a new car, check out their safety records and kick the tires. Talk to other authors who have used their services. Read some of the books they have edited. Your career is at stake. There are so many good books out there and you want yours to be one of them.


  1. I think much of this stems from too much focus on promotion instead of on the quality of the book. A voice from the back - or in the forefront - of my head says, "And who are you that anyone should take note of what you think?" And my answer is here, still gleaning all I can from others, instead of looking for options to get my book published, whether it is ready or not.

    I apologize for veering off from your topic of doing your homework when choosing an editor. But, perhaps the choice in editors will be better when we focus on quality literature instead of the bucks.

  2. Amen. I've read some that make me gasp at the errors and then I see in the acknowledgements the writer thanking their editor. Yipes.

  3. Before I even send my wip to my editor(s), I make it as clean as I can; no one is perfect, but theres no reason for sloppy editing in this day and age; there are plenty of editors out there; and I also have beta readers, which help as well.

  4. Speaking of editing... a "prospective" editor is one you are thinking of hiring. A "perspective" editor might help with your story's point of view. Heh.