I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately about self-publishing since that’s how I plan on publishing my book when I complete the editing.
One of the biggest complaints about the quality of self-published books is the poor editing of the final product. Much of it, apparently, is pretty amateurish. Lots of spelling and grammar errors you usually wouldn’t find in books published the traditional way having gone through a rigorous editing process.
Not only that, but with the ability to put your book out to the public electronically there’s a lot of real garbage out there, too. Most of the sites such as Smashwords, Amazon, etc., allow you to download a sample of the book you might be interested in. Sort of the digital equivalent of roaming the aisles of a brick and mortar bookstore and leafing through a volume that might strike your fancy. I’ve done that with quite a few books online and quite frankly am glad I wasn’t charged for them, though I did download Joe Konrath’s “Newbie’s Guide to Publishing” and his novel “Shot of Tequila” which I thoroughly enjoyed.Very much in the Elmore Leonard, Carl Hiaasen and Tim Dorsey genre, if you like that sort of thing, and I do. The villains aren’t quite as freaky as those other authors but weird enough to be a lot of fun.
Anyway, in all the reading I’ve done one piece of advice is pretty consistent. “Hire an editor!” After all, writers aren’t editors. They write. Editors edit.
Like a lot of good advice I’ve received in my life I’m going to ignore this bit as well. There are just some things I feel as competent at doing as the so-called experts. For example, one excellent piece of advice given to anyone planning on buying a boat is to hire a qualified marine surveyor. I didn’t do that when I bought my sailboat, Nancy Dawson, or any of the other half-dozen or so boats after her. Why? Well, at that time I’d spent nearly 10 years working in boat yards repairing and restoring boats for a living and I doubt there’s anything a surveyor would have spotted that I couldn’t myself. In fact, there were times when I’d made repairs to boats and they were completely missed by surveyors charging their clients extortionate fees for their services.
Regarding the editing of my book, well, I worked as an editor for nearly three years and think I have a bit of an editor’s eye. In fact, I think I proved that to myself this morning as I was editing a chapter that has been sitting for a while waiting for me to look at it with a fresh perspective. I discovered that the narrator of my story spoke about the crew being “mesmerized” by a sight on the ocean. A perfectly apt description except for one important fact. The narrator is speaking in the year 1502 and Franz Anton Mesmer, after whom the phrase “mesmerized” takes its name, wasn’t born until 1734! Two hundred and thirty two years AFTER the narrator of the story uses the word. Would a paid editor have picked that fact up? Who knows? But I bet most wouldn’t have caught it.
Right now I’m rewriting and editing chapter by chapter and it’s a lot more fun than it was trying to get that first draft down on “paper.”
One response to “Editing For Self-Published eBooks”
This really has been interesting to follow. I especially liked the “mesmerized” example. I’ve never really thought of fact-checking as part of the editing process. I’ve always been more focused on proof-reading for spelling and such. But you’re right – that was a good catch, and the sort of thing that could destroy the effect for any reader who caught it. (I wouldn’t have.)
I don’t think hardly anyone would have caught that, but you never know. There’s always some smart-ass like myself lurking out there who’s a Trivial Pursuit champ who would catch it and ridicule you for being such an idiot for not knowing that.