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!