Editing: Mediocre Book vs Best Seller

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5* Author LK Kelley

Reading has always been my very favorite thing to do all my life.  But, since e-books have appeared, the book world of books has exploded, and competition is everywhere! Everyone writes today. That’s easy to see based on the thousands upon thousands of books published every day.  

When I was first asked to edit a book for another author (before I ever began writing books), I had no idea what went into it.  Once I started, I had to make up my own rules.  I did a bit of research on editors, and discovered that everyone of them had their own way of doing editing.  Well, that left me to come up with my own method. I have always been a stickler for the way I read, and it seemed that editing a book was no different. I worked with the author directly.  After all, the book is the author’s idea and story. I was just there to make it read better, and correct errors.  As I learned, along with the author, the best way to do it, my rules actually came very easy to me. Thus, I began to edit books as a Freelance editor.  I, now, not only am an author, but I also edit books for other authors, and am still a Freelancer.

After quite a while editing, I can say, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the difference between a mediocre book and a best seller comes right down to editing. The former has little to no editing, while the latter has been edited.  Now, I know that some authors just don’t have the money, but if you are going to be serious about writing books, blogs, articles, and even websites, you need to have an editor. 

Now, the reason for needing an editor is very apparent. The biggest thing other readers and I noticed while reading, is that the number of books with little editing, if any at all.  I even have read some excellent stories, but make not mistake…readers are VERY sophisticated, and while they enjoy reading books, the grammatical errors, bad spelling, duplications, and especially the wide use of the improper use of “I and me”,  can turn them off of the book.  

Let me use the analogy of TV and Movies, because the concept is the same.  Everyone has heard  editing in these. You have even heard of leaving “clippings on the editing floor”.  Every movie or TV series has multiple editors.  Without them, no movie or series would be worth watching, because there would be too many errors in them alon. And, while a scene may be really great, it adds nothing to the progress of the story, so they delete it out in favor of a more important scene.  

Well, this is the way it is with books.  Books were the forerunner of TV and Movies.  They have always been edited. However, in this case, the editing is within the written word instead of on a screen.  It uses the “mind screen” within your head as a reader and most especially, a writer.  When we write, it is our responsibility to draw a picture within another’s mind.  But, if the words are spelled wrong, or used incorrectly, then that picture will be hard to form, and therefore, the book isn’t really very good even though the idea is pretty good. Oh, it might have a good concept, but it will lack grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.  I know all of you have had this happen.  You begin a book, and keep trying to read it, but for some reason, you just “can’t get into it”.  So, what’s wrong? It’s a great idea, but something is missing.  As you read you consciously, or subconsciously, read misspelled words, or incorrect grammar. Perhaps you read the same paragraph twice, only to discover it really is in the book twice!  Or, the characters are almost, but not quite easy to picture.  That is just poor grammar.  When a book is full of these, and believe me, I read them all the time, and most especially in e-books, the reader just shuts the book, or exits out of it on a digital reader, and won’t try reading it again.  The reader feels a bit cheated, because he/she has bought a “dud”.  

A publication – of any kind – must have correct grammar and spelling first.  This makes or breaks a book.  It is extremely possible for a writer to have a great story.  Unfortunately, if the person does not know grammar or has poor spelling, it’s harder to sell a book. The next thing is duplication.  Duplication shows up in many e-books these days.  An author does not want this, because it is very clear that the person did not even read their own book. And, in many cases, they are in such a hurry to get their book(s) published, they just let them go the way they are. It tells the reader that you are not really serious about writing, so they question why should they waste their time reading a book that not even the author cared enough to write it correctly.  

Two of the biggest no-nos in writing are:

  • Ending a sentence in a preposition
  • The huge and improper use of “I and me”

The second one is the biggest and improper use of these. It will truly ruin a book for readers.  No matter what, these two things must be used correctly! The biggest surprise for me is how it has grown exponentially – especially since e-books have exploded on the scene.  I have addressed these in another blog.

Remember…the difference between a mediocre book and a best seller is not the idea,  or a great story.  It is simply a matter of editing. So, why don’t more people use them?  It comes down to money.  Many have friends who want to help them, but they are not editors, and while some may be very good with words, they are still not editors. It’s a very nice thing, but it’s never a good idea unless the person has time and knows their grammatical skills. Every editor has his/her own prices, and not all of them are totally out of reach.  Some are reasonable. Others are higher.  For instance, one may charge by the word, while another, in my case, charge by the page.  How to find one?  Ask for references. Just like anything else you do in life, this is no different.   You would never build a house, remodel, or even replace flooring without at least 3 references. This is exactly the same thing, only you are choosing a service. But, you must do your research.  If you know of a local writer who uses one, ask them. Most writers support each other.

If writing is something you like to do on the side, and it’s really not a priority for you, then that is one thing.  However, if you are a serious writer, you NEED to use an editor.  Many large Publishing Houses have their own in house editors.  That’s something that Independent authors and some publishers just do not have.  While some do have access to an editor, most do not keep them “on staff”.

So, it all boils down to one question you must ask yourself as an author:

How serious are you about becoming an author?  

If you are truly serious, you need an editor to make your book read the very best. Why do you think books are turned into movies?  Because they had an editor! Turn your mediocre book into a best seller, and use an editor!  You will truly be glad that you did! 

 

My Constant Companions – Patience & Hard Work

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LK Kelley – Author of the White Wolf Prophecy Trilogy. #lkkelley #whitewolfprophecy @lkkelley1 on Twitter

“Patience is its own reward,” and “Work hard, and you will realize your dreams”.  These are two quotes that we hear over and over throughout our lives. This leads me to say that patience and hard work are my constant companions.

And, it’s true.  However, if you’re going to be an author, you’d better be totally prepared to be realistic, patient, and work hard without pause.  Why?  Because you are competing with hundreds of thousands of authors all over the world.  That’s even double, triple, or even quadruple the authors, because many have far more than one book out there.

Working hard is just a first step, and it does not guarantee a darned thing.  If you’ll notice, most books and authors that are recognized are on the “Best Seller Lists” – and they stay there.  It’s not often a new author is on it.  A handful of new authors make it big, but the majority don’t.

Is it a mistake for those who make Best Seller Lists to ignore new authors?  Absolutely. So many of my followers are authors – all, like me, trying to just get their work out to the public.  And, they are really great writers, too!

Before I ever began to write, I was (and still am) an avid reader for years.  Books were my getaway from reality.  Going to a bookstore was so overwhelming, because I like so many genres, just trying to choose was a headache!  But, today?  Well, it’s e-books.  Just go to one of the big book sellers online, and see how many books there are for you to choose.  It’s almost impossible to choose!  My problem was, and still is, how to choose a book in the first place!

Well, since I became an author, there are so many amazing authors that are following me on Twitter, that helped narrow choices down for the moment.  So, I have opted to choose my followers’ books.  I just hope I can live long enough to read them!  ROFL!  I am wholly impressed by these authors.

Of course, I think the difference between a good book and a great one is editing.  Now, I’m not talking about editing  to the point that the book bares no resemblance whatsoever to the book that the author wrote, but one that has had collaboration between both editor and author to keep the author’s vision of their book intact while making it read better with the correct grammar, punctuation, and other things.  That is not to say that rules cannot be broken.  They can. After all, it’s imagination that drives all of us as authors.  But, in general, grammar, spelling, and punctuation are the most common complaints among reviewers and readers.  Unfortunately, most authors do not have the money to buy an editor.  I think this is a sad thing.  Being not only an author, but an editor, I can attest to this.

But, back to the main point of my blog.  Patience.  If you’re one of the lucky ones, you’ll be picked up by a large publishing house whether or not you are self-publishing or with a small, independent publishing house such as the one I chose.  But, let’s face it. Most of us will never be picked up, but some of us may make it enough to make a decent living, or even as a supplemental living.

I honestly don’t know if all the work, and PR in the world will accomplish this for any of us, but if any of us quits?  Well, that’s where failure starts.

I am going to admit something to everyone.  I have failed at so many things in my life.  But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the 5 star reviews, which my books have been receiving – and they are REAL book reviews, I never buy them – I have decided, for the very first time in my entire life, that I won’t quit.  Not this time.  I believe in my story trilogy.  It was fun to write them for the adult women who dreamed of the same things to read that I did. And, even those who know me who have read them, never had a clue that I could write!

I kept my books a complete secret from everyone until I had the entire trilogy finished.  Once I did, an old friend of mine I’ve known since Junior High School, and is an educator, flat out told me that I had missed my calling. She could not  believe that I could write like this!  In fact, it stunned her so much, she told me she couldn’t wait for the rest of them, and I’d better not disappoint!  Well, that put me on the hook. I had a couple of others read the first book before I ever published them, and they were so thrilled, they, too, said the same thing.

Now, for me? That was the most flattering thing ANYONE has ever said to me!  With these, along with the reviews that are being posted on Amazon, I realized that I would fail THEM if I quit – especially, when so many people I knew, and did not know, believe in my ability to write?

So.  I won’t quit.  I have made so many friends on Twitter, and other social networks, that if I decided to stop, I would not only fail them, but I would fail myself.

I will not stop, because of all these wonderful people who have so much faith in me.  So much so, that I have begun my second series, and am almost finished with my first book in this new series.  Once it is edited, I’ll have it ready for you.

And, still, I have learned a great deal of patience over the past year and a half.  I have built my Twitter followers from only  18 followers to almost 10K – every single one of them real, and I never bought any!  I won’t buy them simply because I believe in my own books.  I also love tweeting about others books, because I think it’s fun!  I expect to reach the 10K mark within then next month.  Watch for the 1 follower, 3 books coming up!

The Official Photo of the White Wolf Prophecy Trilogy
The Official Photo of the White Wolf Prophecy Trilogy