For Want of an Editor

I bought a self-published, digital book the other day. I know the author and liked the idea behind the story so I threw my usual ‘check it out first’ caution to the wind and bought it. I’m not going to say who the author is or what the story is about. I refuse to diss another writer or diss their hard work. If I don’t like something or find it flawed, I’m going to keep my mouth shut about it.

The only reason I’m bringing it up here is this: The story idea is a good one.

I wanted to read this book, I really did. And I tried, truly I did. I made it to the third chapter but there were so many flaws in the story line that I found it hard to continue. I came to realize that what this story was crying out for was the hand of a professional editor.

When one goes through a publisher, as I was lucky enough to do with Stealing The Marbles, the major part of the process is being edited. I was also lucky enough to have what I consider to be one of the best editors on the planet, Jayne Southern. She took what was a good story and helped me to make it a great story. That is what an editor does.

It is so easy for us as writers, sitting at our desk or our solitary table at the local cafe, to develop a set of binders to our own work. It’s the editor who removes those blinders and shines a light on the little things we’ve missed in all our countless readings of our own work.

The single greatest burden for the self-published author is, in my opinion, this: they don’t automatically get an editor. And yet, as this story I’ve mentioned illustrates, that does not remove the great need for one. This could be a great story with the help of a competent editor.

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I’m a real advocate of digital books. I believe the future belongs to them and to the many small, independent publishers, like my own publisher, Rebel e, that are springing up all over. I am also a supporter of self-publishing but with one, very strong, caveat: no matter how you go about it, whether you have to beg, borrow or steal the funds, hire a good editor to work with you. Trust me, it will make all the difference in the world.

One Comment to For Want of an Editor

  1. Poppet says:

    I completely agree with you. I started a book this week that apparently had been through three editors, and I feel the poor man was completely ripped off he paid them a cent.

    I thought the concept was a good one, and the story is probably magnificent, unfortunately I couldn’t force myself to read it because of the editing required.

    None of us are perfect, and both my publishers have asked for edits, but a publisher won’t publish anything until it’s perfect. And self-pubs definitely do lose out on the editing side of things 🙁

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