Why writers need to use editors…and the need for a fresh set of eyes.

Posted by kristi on August 8, 2012 in Blog |

Term Paper Flashbacks

As an author, you might think that all I do is think up new ideas and write.  And that wouldn’t be a wrong assumption, ideas are never far off and sometimes I find myself writing on auto-pilot.  But, my love of writing was actually born out of my love for reading.

I’ll read just about anything, or at least I’ll try to. That leads me to one really important lesson I’ve learned along the way. No matter how well you know the rules of grammar and spelling, it is inevitable that you WILL make mistakes when you write 300-400 pages.

My pride says that I stick to the confines of what is grammatically correct, and that spelling is never an issue…but the truth is even though I meant to say “their” it can somehow still end up as “there” or “they’re” after days of staring at the white light that is my computer screen for hours on end.  On top of that, I am convinced that my spelling and grammar check on my computer is out to sabotage me as it often perplexes me with the strange substitutions it suggests.

At the end of the day, what I know to be true is simple.  EVERYONE needs to edit.  And realistically that involves a set of eyes that are not those of the author or their significant other.  Even better, perhaps someone who gets paid to edit because even though the red line of death was something we dreaded in school, it is vital to making a book readable and retaining the readers from one book to the next.  And in all honesty, for those of us that have gone the indie/self publishing route this oversight is the reason Indie/Self Pubs have earned a bad rap.

Over the last month, I have read a number of indie or self published titles.  And what I found was varied.  There were a couple that were fantastic, there were a few that had clearly been edited by a keen eye though perhaps not my cup of tea content wise, there were several that were perhaps a bit too edited in that they had clearly overused the thesaurus feature to select “big” words that had me laughing at the idea of someone actually thinking or worse speaking with SAT words on a regular basis, and then there were several that I could barely finish because of the obvious lack of editing.

Here’s the thing, the books that had a complete lack of editing have the potential to be good and sometimes even great books in their respective genre, but the errors eventually became more of a distraction.  In some respects, it makes me want to talk to the author and offer to proof the work, not because I am better at it, but simply because I have no connection to it.  Editing for my own work is painful,  at times cutting content that I spent months crafting seems about as appealing as cutting off my own fingers, but if an editor can’t get through the content how should I expect a reader who spent their hard earned money to overlook my grammar crimes and spelling mishaps?

I spend a good deal of money each month purchasing books for my own entertainment.  But, like any reader there are certain things that will make me think twice about spending my money on the same author more than once.

Let’s face it, indie authors and self published authors have earned that bad rap because of the lack of editing and it doesn’t help that the pond we are wading in is now larger than ever before and nearly everyone on the beach is looking to dive in and capitalize on their own story.  It is on all of us as indie or self published authors to erase the perception that indie/self pub authors are not as good as traditionally published authors and we can’t really do that without some form of editing.

As a reader, you might think an author went the cheap route and had a friend or husband proof their work, or that they edited themselves and you’d be right the majority of the time.  But, as an author I know that there are a bunch of alternatives to having a loved one do the work and they’ll have no problem making you feel like you are back in tenth grade with your merciless English teacher  who red lined the 40 page research paper you stayed up all night to complete after procrastinating for two months.  While it stinks to have someone quickly cut apart something you worked on for weeks, months or years now, the effort can be the difference between a long term following of loyal readers and a slew of readers who will bypass every novel you publish in the years to come for another author without so much as a thought.  Family, significant others and/or any other poor souls we’ve subjected to our crimes against grammar and spelling will thank us for not forcing them to tell us that we can’t spell or whatever else they might find.

So, you might be thinking “I don’t have thousands of dollars for an editor! They charge by the page or the word!!”  Yes, they do.  And it IS expensive, but I’d rather sell my book than write it and have it passed over for something with a lesser plot because the author made sure it was properly edited.

With that, I’ll leave you with a few alternatives to your loved ones servitude…

1. Elance – a contracting site where you can find people skilled in (proof reading, story development, website and blog design, cover designers, etc.)

2. Fiverr (and other gig type sites) – a community that allows you to bid on various services for $5  (some ridiculous and useless, but there are editors, ghostwriters and more that frequent the site however you do get what you pay for, so bear that in mind).

3. Most indie publishing companies will offer editorial services, and they should also be able to give you the names of reputable free-lance editors.

4. Ask another author if they might consider reading your book if you could return the favor.  (Obviously, you would need to be acquainted with another author to take advantage of this). Of course, a self pub or indie author is a lot more likely to consider such an offer.

Thanks for checking in!!





  • Renata says:

    Great post! I also think it gives the author freedom to create.
    To me it’s exhilarating to know that someone else is going to look at my work and point out my mistakes to me. It makes me write happier and faster!

    It’s definitely money well spent!

    • kristi says:

      Thanks for reading the post and commenting!! I agree. Even with a team of editors, there can still be mistakes that sneak through which is almost inevitable and can be found even in bestsellers. But, it is nice to know there is a safety net where someone else will be working to catch whatever slips past and hopefully helping us to deliver a more polished finished product. And I think you can make up the cost in the sales if your end result is better because of it. And I think it is especially helpful in building and maintaining a loyal following!

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