Monday, August 27, 2012

A Reader's Perspective: Indie Publishing: Editing

#3 on my list from a reader's point of view: editing.

I've talked on this blog before about how much I love editors. Sure, I use the word as a grave insult at times, but I love them. ("You're an idiot." "Oh, yeah? Well, you're an editor!")
Every author and every book need an editor. Again, money's usually an issue for indie authors, especially new ones, but hire an editor. And just because someone says s/he's an editor, don't take her/his word for it. Check them out. Talk to previous clients. Read previous clients' books. If you spot problems in those books, then maybe that editor isn't for you.

An editor's job is to make a book better. (I'll stick with she because, while I know there are male editors out there, I've never actually seen one.) She's supposed to catch when your characters are acting out of character, when your plot is full of coincidences, when stuff doesn't make sense, when you could drive a Mack truck through the holes, when the conflict is insufficient and when the ending is too rushed or unsatisfying.
Editing is a talent.
Editing is a talent.

Not just anyone who wants to be an editor can be. So her friends tell her she's a good critiquer. Well, my friends tell me that, too, but I'd be a lousy editor. I've got some strengths, but I've got more weaknesses. My writers' group of seventeen or so professional authors, all combined, could make two, probably three good editors.  
A bad editor, granted, is worse than no editor at all. But that's where your powers for research come into play: you not only have to find an editor who gets your voice and your story, but she's got to have that editing talent, too. To quote my indie-pubbed friend M. A. Golla, easy-peasy, right?

(The above is my thoughts as a reader in what I'm looking for in indie-published books.)


  1. Hey,
    I love your perspective on this subject. I'm still amazed at what people are putting up via self-publishing. To me you need to put your best professional foot forward no matter what you're publishing. Be it a blog, or going the indie route. There is so much crap out there that the good stuff will continue to rise to the top. And yes, in case anyone is wondering, I hired an editor for a book I'm putting out there at the end of the year. It was a no brainer.

    1. Thanks, Tracey! Although I hate doing edits -- and God help me, I despise revisions -- I can honestly think of only a couple times when the editor didn't seriously improve the book. (That editor and I disagreed on everything about the books from the beginning.)

      Glad to hear you're indie-pubbing one. When it comes out, let me know if you want to write about it here.

  2. *snork* To find an editor to fulfil those requirements is tough, plus I think you need to find one who enjoys/specializes in your particular genre. Though I know a lot of romance authors who use certain free-lance editors (many of whom used to work for big NY publishers), I don't think it would be in my best interest to use them for a middle grade fantasy.

    I could be wrong though . . . it's been known to happen!

    To my knowledge, reputable editors will edit 1-2 pages free of charge so the client/author/you can see if the editor's style meshes with yours.

    1. It is tough, I know. You've got the advantage of a really good author friend to take at least part of that role for you, but people who don't have that really need to find a professional. A good edit can make a so-so book good and a good one great. And no edit at all . . . well, it's not fair to the book or the author or the readers.

      Any 1-2 pages, do you know? Or does it have to be the first couple? I'm just thinking, I'd want to send them part of a scene that I know is problematic.

    2. I don't think it matters, Marilyn, since all you are doing is to see if your styles mesh. If you find an potential editor, I'd email and ask.

      Re: Author friend editor: LOVE HER!! You know what's really funny is she doesn't have to go into any great detail about my MS problems, just a couple of key words: slow, out of character, or whatever, and I will rip the entire chapter out and start over from scratch! So far, this method seems to work for the stories!

    3. That's because she's a good editor and you're in tune with her. That's great. It can be tough to find. And trust me, nothing's worse than working with an editor you're totally not in tune with. You remember my experience with the Name That Won't Cross My Lips? I almost gave up writing, it was so bad!