Editing: How important is it?

Well, the quick answer would be “very”; if it were that quick of an action, then why aren’t more people doing it?

I have been pondering this issue for a while and had been postponing writing a blog post about it b/c I started to think that perhaps I’m just too anal; but lo and be-freakin’-hold, I was proven wrong! Earlier today, I read a FB [Facebook] note where someone posted a portion of a chapter from their debut novel. I was taken aback by the blatant errors in the note; but out of 100+ comments, only a couple of people were bold enough to mention the [overt] errors.

Now, before I’m lashed, do let me defend myself here. There’s nothing wrong w/ supporting our new (or seasoned) authors; hell, I am one. I support and encourage others to support one another! The readers could have very well enjoyed the story line; I could have as well, if it weren’t for the poor editing distractions. I’m not talking about a few (as opposed to hundreds) missed commas and punctuations or the use of slang. No, I’m talking about frequent misspelled words, improper use of prepositions, misuse of homophones (this drives me up the wall!), run-on sentences, etc. Unless the book is written in 1st person and the character is dyslexic or lacks proper education, these issues should not frequently [if at all] exist.

I am certainly not perfect, and my debut novel, although well edited, still contains an error here or there. Occasional errors will be found in almost any book, as books are edited by humans—the imperfect being. However, a published book should not contain [the aforementioned] errors on every single page. Not only would the author come off as being a bad writer, but the errors distract readers from absorbing a potentially entertaining and entrancing story.

Let me give a [made up] example:

I wish I could go on the cruise. But the mechanic said that my car motor needs to be repaired. Their going to charge my $2,500 just to fix it.

Now…let me fix it:

I wish I could go on the cruise. But, but the mechanic said that my car motor needs to be repaired. Their They’re going to charge my me$2,500 just to fix it.

Sadly and unfortunately, I have found these types of errors in self-published books. Being a self-publisher, I try my best to assist with reversing the stigma that self-published books are low quality and poorly written. If that means telling a fellow self-publisher that their book needs some additional editing, then that’s what I’ll do. It’s not meant to insult; it’s meant as a critique and as a way to help my sisters and brothers in the writing world to rise to the top. I read; I write; I edit. That is my life; it’s my j-o-b. I don’t criticize unless I can help; if I can’t help, then I keep my mouth closed. (Notice that I’m blabbering, right? What does that tell you?lol)

I want us all to join in the efforts of making each other better writers and authors. We, as authors, don’t need the fluff and sugar-coating (making us feel like the next John Grisham or Toni Morrison when we write like Forrest Gump); we need honesty and constructive criticism. In this field, no author can afford to be sensitive and defensive, as every page of your work will be judged and scrutinized by readers. While some readers may see no issue with using “their” instead of “they’re”, consistent errors such as this may keep your book from reaching a distinguished level. If it does and someone at a chief level reads such errors, then you could risk your reputation as a writer. Why do that when there are many reputable copy-editors who freelance and offer their services at reasonable fees? Editing your own book may be cheaper now, but it could cost you more in the long run. You could be the world’s greatest writer; but when you already know what the next line and page in your book is going to say, it’s easy to read letters and words that aren’t there. You already know that the next line is supposed to say, “The train ran off of the tracks”, when in fact, the line written actually says, “The train run off the track”. You see, a fresh/new pair of eyes will read exactly what’s put before them and may catch errors that your mind didn’t allow your eyes to see. Hiring an editor is one of the best investments you could ever make as a writer. Do your research and ask for references to find the best one for your budget. Your book and your readers will thank you.

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2 thoughts on “Editing: How important is it?

  1. Great post Angelique,

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I for one am a terrible speller. In fact if it weren’t for spell check I probably would have given up and quit writing a LONG time ago. lol
    Although I’m not a published author I do still post pieces on the internet from time to time. I have actually removed posts of mine that I have gone back later and found mistakes that I hadn’t caught prior to posting. It was a HUMBLING experience to say the least. But like you point out it’s something that really SHOULD be done in order to preserve ones reputation as quality author.

  2. Yes, this is an important issue. I’m glad you made the distinction of writing in a dialect and in the first person versus a lack of editing. I find Earl Lovelace’s “The Dragon Can’t Dance” is a wonderful piece of work with vernacular and idioms throughout (yes, I suppose this sentence does technically end with a preposition; however, language does change and a lot of folks are doing this nowadays).
    I agree editing is crucial, but if the editors aren’t very good it could be a moot point. My first book of poetry and prose was self edited (yes, I am a sloppy speller) and then I had the publishing company edit it and apparently they had editors who either didn’t care or speak English as a second language (which I think is great, provided the individuals are good editors mind you), because the manuscript had more errors when they were done with it than it did when I initially submitted it to them. Since then in subsequent books, I have noticed the same thing happening and have determined that this is how the book publishers get more money from the authors (granted this is my theory and it is a tad cynical, but I think it’s plausible). This is how the publishing houses can charge ‘x amount’ per word etcetera, to correct in the post editing galley stage of production. I was naïve on my first book and it did cost me substantial embarrassment and perhaps a few sales. I commend your boldness and admire your attention to detail and merely wish to add that writers find a capable editor who is honestly trying to make the end product better and not just trying to squeeze out a few extra dollars. Thanks for posting this blog, it’s a great one!

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