As an aspiring author with only a rough first draft to my name, I’m not in any position to be talking about how to edit a book. In fact, I’ll be scouring the web, how-to books, and the YouTube playlists for information on this very subject as I begin editing my draft. That’s why the subject is on my mind!
I realize authors who’ve managed to land a book deal with a publisher don’t need to concern themselves with this issue anymore. I mean, they have to revise their work based on what the editor at the publishing house suggests. They don’t, however, have to work at finding issues. For better or worse, somebody else is doing that for them. Prior to that happy circumstance, though, I believe the question of editing is of consequence to every writer – best-seller to unpublished.
For authors going the self-publishing route (which I’ve been considering), editing becomes a major quandary. The editing passes done by the publishers in a traditional undertaking are the responsibility of the author in self publishing. That means the author has to find an objective eye, a way to distance themselves from what they’ve created so they can identify the issues. Easier said than done unless you hire someone! In addition, the cost of engaging pros for the edits is borne by the author, and that can get quite pricey. I’ve already done some research in that area. The potential expense really surprised me!
Obviously, an author will have been through several drafts of their manuscript in the process of getting the story recorded and in good shape. Unfortunately, that isn’t the end of edits. How can an unpublished unknown like me say that with such conviction? Simply put, I’m also a reader.
I published a post recently about reading bad books as object lessons to avoid. You don’t have to struggle through a lot of them to get an education, either. Anyway, one of the main issues I’ve run into in these less successful novels is typos and grammatical mistakes. It is so incredibly annoying as a reader to be constantly interrupted by typos and errors in grammar. It takes me right out of the story, which is an easy prompt to put the book down and never return. Not what an author wants a reader to do! It’s certainly not what I’m aiming for.
I have to tell you, there’s one author I will never read again because of egregious mistakes. Obviously, he didn’t bother hiring a line editor or a proofreader before publishing his novel. As a result, he’s lost me. And from the reviews I read (afterward), he has lost many others for the same reason.
Readers want to like our books. I’m pretty sure nobody buys a book with the hopes they’ll hate reading it. And when they like the first one, they want to come back to that author for more. Why give them a reason not to? Would you be satisfied with a painter that put the beautiful new coat of periwinkle you wanted on most of your walls but left small patches of the old ecru showing through? I don’t think so. Would you hire that painter again? No!
If you’re skilled in plot and story structure, awesome! You have the chops I hope to possess some day. Since this is my first novel, I plan to hire a developmental editor after I get through a few more drafts on my own. (If anybody out there has a recommendation in the fantasy genre, I’m all ears!) When it comes to line edits or proofreading, though, I think every author can use an extra set of eyes. For the readers’ sake!