Editing and Self-Publishing: A Random wRiting Rant

Writing rant - Self-Pubbers please editI was going to start off my first “real” blog entry on this blog with a post about inspiration and story ideas, that being the first step in this journey of writing a book.  However, I was reading a new adult book for my book review blog,

Shameless plug: Check out my New Adult Book Blog here.

and by the third paragraph on the first page, I’d already noticed several grammatical errors.  The book is self-pubbed, so I’m willing to overlook a few typos and errors.  I’ve been through the self-publishing process with my brother’s stories.  I did the proofreading and editing and I know how hard it is to catch all those tiny typos.  However, as I keep reading, this book keeps getting worse.  (I shall leave the book unnamed and the author anonymous, cause I just don’t roll like that.  I’m a good girl, I am.)

There are rampant proofreading issues, spots where the author obviously went back and did some editing and missed some major corrections.  It’s written mainly in first person, present tense, but often slips into past tense when not appropriate.  Word misuse and punctuation errors are rampant.  I’m guessing this is a second draft, at best, maybe even a rough draft.

Now, in my last post, you might remember, I mentioned the amazing high school English teacher that inspired me to write.  He said to ignore all the technical crap in the first draft.  The creative process is the most important in the roughest version of your story.  I still live by that credo.  However, I’m an editing maniac.

OK, I’ll ‘fess up.  It’s probably my major writing flaw and what’s kept me from pursuing being published before.  I’ve slapped “The End” on the last page of quite a few stories then I go back and edit and edit and edit and edit….

You get the idea.  OCD might (totally) run in my family and I might (totally) be an over the top perfectionist.  Working on that.

Still, the other end of the spectrum isn’t acceptable either.  This sloppiness gives self-pubbing a bad image.  There are some amazing self-pubbed works out there (Fifty Shades, Jamie McGuire, etc.) and the authors have done amazingly well and landed book deals and even movie deals after self-publishing.  (Of course, those cases are the exception and not the norm.)

So, please self-pubbing authors, I’m begging you, have your work proofed and edited.

BookEditing

Now, professional editing services are expensive.  Too freaking true.  So, here are some alternatives to those pricy editing fees:

  • Find your grammar and spelling nazi friend (everyone has one or they might be that friend.  What, who, me?  No…ok, yeah, it’s me.) – ask them to proof and edit your book.  Better yet, ask a couple of friends.  A second or third pair of eyes will always catch a majority of those glaring boo-boos that you overlooked.  Pay them with dinner out or a case of beer, whatever.
  • Learn about self-editing.  I totally recommend this book:  Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King.  Buy it, read it, love it.  It’s the down and dirty on all the most common and glaring writing mistakes that newbie and even some experienced writers make.  It has great examples.  I made my brother read this and his writing is 200% better than it used to be, technically speaking.  His books get comments like “well written” in reviews.  Proof enough for me.
  • Join a writer’s circle or critiquing group.  They’re usually free.  There are online and in person groups.  You trade critiques and it’s an invaluable experience.  I joined a great group a few years back and learned sooooo much from my fellow writers.  Many of them are now published authors and I’m proud to know I helped them on that road and they taught me so much in return.  Just Google “critique group” and you’ll find lots of options.
  • Employ beta readers.  Beta readers are less technical and more like a focus group to test the waters before publishing.  Critique groups and writers’ websites are great for recruiting.  DON’T RECRUIT YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS.  They will lie and say they love your book no matter what.  Another option is to check out a local college.  Writing majors may help you out for free especially if you pub and they get a free credit for their resume.

If you want to pay someone for editing services, please choose wisely.  I read another book for my review site recently that had a professional editing credit in the front matter of the book and boy howdy, I will not ever be using that editor.  Lots of editing services offer a free edit of a first chapter or a few pages.  Send your pages to a few and find the one that seems to fit you best.

Check out their credentials.  Just because I’ve edited a couple self-pubbed books and traded critiques with a few other authors doesn’t qualify me to charge a couple $$ per page to professionally edit someone’s baby.  Ask for recommendations and a list of clients.  Check out the editor’s work before you plunk down that kind of cash.

You only have one chance to make a first impression on readers.  Paragraph 3 is a bad place to turn them off.  I’ll finish this book because it’s on my list of To Be Reviewed but if it were for casual reading, I would not be at Chapter 6 today.  I’d never pick up another book by this author either.

Some readers are more forgiving than I am.  I picked this book on the recommendation of a 5 start review from another blogger.  It’ll be amazing if it gets even 3 stars from me.  It’s a damn shame, too, because the author has a strong voice and a great, deep perspective into the characters’ minds, but the rampant technical errors are so hard to overlook.  It makes the book nearly unreable.

There’s my rant.  Next post will get on track and I’ll talk about Inspiration and Story Ideas, I swear (unless I need to rant again, sorry, no promises).

Cheers and kisses,

Heather

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