Tag Archives: why you need a good editor

Says the Editor: Respect The Reader

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I had picked up a book while it was on sale. No big deal; I do it all the time when the book sounds good. As a single parent who runs a microbusiness and has a mortgage and one college tuition staring her in the face, plus needs a second car and to fund a second college tuition, these sales — and I’ll admit it, the freebies — are a gift.

Yes, I leave reviews to say thanks. I suggest the really good ones to my friends, too. Why do you ask?

But this isn’t about the debate over free and sale books, and it’s not about the need to leave reviews. It’s about the responsibility of the author and/or publisher to respect the reader.

Now, this book had a number of big red flags. In the first four percent, we learned twice, in depth, about the main character’s need for anonymous sex. We spent a couple pages of info dump about the other main characters. And there was no clear opening to the book; I could have sliced off the entire four percent and the book would have been better for it.

So… already, it’s suffering from poor editing. Not a good sign.

And then, the grammar. And there’s a difference between uneducated — lots of him and me went together to that place — and sloppy.

I get that lie/lay is a hard construction. I still struggle with it, and I’ve been editing for HOW many years now? (The answer: about as long as my son’s ultimate coach has been alive.) But I’ve learned, because that’s what an editor does. She learns and grows and gets better at her craft.

Just like writers are supposed to.

So we had rough grammar, which didn’t completely complement the author’s voice and stuck out and made me wince. We had grammatical errors.

Clearly, no professional editor worth their salt was involved with this book.

But when I got to the place where a zero was used in place of the letter O, I was done. Now you’ve crossed the line from ignorance, which can be fixed, to a refusal to respect the reader.

Respect your reader.

At this point, it’s not even about editing. It’s about respect. It really is. Because if you can’t be bothered to at least run spell check to make sure something this massive hasn’t crept in, what else can’t you be bothered to do? Learn the craft of writing? Put your best effort on the page? Care about your project, your consumer, your future career?

It’s about respect. Respect the reader. Bring your best. Every chapter, every scene, every paragraph, every sentence, every word. Even if you can’t afford a professional editor, you owe it to yourself and your reader to run spell check and make absolutely certain that you’re not going to leave in an error that shows you don’t care about the product you are selling. There’s a difference between him and me stood there and stared and thr23 people approached. What does that last even say? How many people are involved in this approach?

If you can’t respect the reader, maybe you shouldn’t be publishing.

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Says the Editor: A Sea in Your Belly

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It was a hot and heavy sex scene, right in the opening of the book. And it was a good one, too, written with sensitivity and in a way that made us care about these characters even though it was, in their minds, nothing more than a meaningless hookup — although the reader knew it would be the start of something bigger.

And then the hero kissed his way down her body and stopped at her naval and…

WAIT.

WHAT?

I’m sorry, but WHAT THE FUCK?

From Webster’s:

Definition of naval
1 obsolete : of or relating to ships or shipping
2 a : of or relating to a navy
b : consisting of or involving warships

THIS IS A SEX SCENE, PEOPLE, NOT WAR ON THE HIGH OCEAN.

(And while war on the high ocean could be a metaphor for sex, in this case, it certainly was NOT. No warfare happening here. Just a lot of mutual lust.)

Believe it or not, I finished the book. It was a good book (although it should have had a much better editor because yes, that was only the beginning of the issues), hard to put down even though I did more wincing than any reader should ever have to.

But I’d have liked it more, I’d be telling people to go pick it up and read it, if the team behind it had been more careful.

Just in case you’re confused — because it does happen, and I’ll forgive you for an honest mistake (because you’re not an editor being paid to know the difference. I hope.) — they should have used NAVEL.

Again, from Webster’s:

Definition of navel
1 : a depression in the middle of the abdomen that marks the point of former attachment of the umbilical cord or yolk stalk
2 : the central point : middle

In Delphi’s golden age, when the ancients held it to be the navel of the world —Henry Kamm

Sigh.

It’s on you to put out the best book possible. And while the best editors are human, even humans make mistakes. Remember that no editor is 100% perfect and that Microsoft Word loves to insert typos just to fuck with the heads of conscientious authors everywhere.

Make sure the editor you’re hiring really IS the best you can hire. I’m always open to new clients, and if my rates are too high for you — I do have a mortgage to pay — let’s talk. It’s about making the best book possible, right?

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