Invest in editing
Updated: Feb 5, 2019
As someone who loves to read, I thought adding book reviews to this blog would be a good idea. After some consideration, I decided to review books that were published either independently or by small presses, since a lot of book bloggers won’t review independently published books. Not only would it help me keep an eye on the small press book market, I thought it would be a fun way to build content.
And so, I started looking around for books to review from a variety of small publishers, excited at the prospect of getting a bunch of free books to read. Sounds fun, right?
Well, it was, until I received an independently published book to review that I just had to stop reading. Not because of the story itself, but because of something that kept interfering with my reading experience.
Back before I was a writer and only read for fun, I was a harsh critic. I wasn’t afraid to toss a book aside if I hated it or if it bored me to tears. I was never afraid of stating with confidence that I didn’t like a book.
Once I began my own writing attempts, however, I changed as a reader. I became more sympathetic toward other attempted authors, since I was attempting the same thing they were: write a book that readers would enjoy. I finally saw all the work that went into writing an entire book and understood how absolutely terrifying it was to share that work with others. I especially felt the sting when someone read my work and told me they didn’t like it. It was so crushing to find out that I put in all this work, just to be told that what I wrote was no good. Ouch.
So, I began to read books differently. I became much more lenient toward books I didn’t particularly like. I pushed through a lot of them simply for the sake of the author. I became hesitant to give bad reviews.
Now, I have found that I am changing as a reader once again, this time as an editorial intern and graphic designer.
As I’ve stated before, I’m not a grammar Nazi, so I’m not going to get my panties in a twist for one mistake or two in a published book. Nobody’s perfect. Based on the context, I know what the author was trying to say. It was one small blip lost amongst hundreds upon thousands of words and punctuations. I make mistakes as a writer, too. It happens.
However, when I read a book that is just riddled with mistake upon mistake, I get irritated. I just can’t read those books. In this particular book, it wasn’t story structure or misspelled words. It was a lot of little things: periods where there should be commas in dialogue tags, spaces after ellipses, ellipses that had more than three periods, missing periods in abbreviations, like for “Mr.” and “Mrs.” It wasn’t one or two, it was constant; each page had a variety of these mistakes. It read like an unedited, unformatted rough draft, not a professionally published book. I couldn’t focus on the story, because my eyes keep tripping over these simple, easy-to-fix mistakes.
Why on Earth would an author invest so much time writing this story, but not invest in editing? Or proofreading? What was the point of all that work if I can’t enjoy reading this book?
Every time I read a book that wasn’t edited properly before being published, all I can think is, somebody didn’t do their job. It makes me want to work instead of relax. I want to mark up the manuscript, format the document, and make the corrections myself. When I read a published book, this is not the experience I want to have.
I know self-publishing a book is an expensive endeavor, but I can’t stress it enough:
Invest. In. Editing. Your. Book.
Invest time, money, and energy. After all your hard work, your story deserves that much. It deserves to shine without getting lost in all the technical mistakes.
Get a second pair of eyes on it to see what you don’t see. Don’t skimp on this. Hire a trained, professional editor to edit your work. Invest in a publishing package that includes proofreading. And when you receive a proof of your book, proceed to thoroughly proofread it yourself, page by page, line by line. Just do it. I know you’re excited about getting your book out on the market, and getting it edited will delay that. Hire an editor anyway. It is worth the investment.
I’m not trying to be mean or superior when I write this. Like I’ve said, I make mistakes when I write, too.
I’m writing this because I care about other writer’s books. I care enough to say that I think a book published independently should get just as much attention and investment as a book published traditionally. I want other writer’s stories to shine. I want their stories to be a joy to read. Isn’t that why most readers read books in the first place?