Self-Publishing and the Importance of Editing

Hey everyone!

As I’ve read a few self-published books in-between traditionally-published books over the past year and a half, I’ve learned something that greatly surprises me.  Many of the self-published authors I’ve read have done a better job with editing than traditionally published novels.

spock-skepticalWhaaaaaat?!  No, that can’t be.  Publishing houses have teams of editors at their disposal!  How could they possibly have missed obvious mistakes??

Honestly, I’m not entirely sure how or why that happens.  And it is very true, not all books are edited/created equally.  I’ve read some traditionally published novels that were near-flawless in their editing, and others that had handfuls of mistakes.

riders-revengeHowever, that divide is pretty narrow.  With very few exceptions, traditionally published novels usually aren’t all that bad.  However, self-published novels are another story…

I’ve read some that are almost flawless in their editing (Alessandra Clarke’s novel Rider’s Revenge had maybe one or two mistakes, and none of them were glaring) and then I’ve read some where it seemed like the author hadn’t even tried to edit their own book, let alone get anyone else to edit them…

Why It Matters So Much

To all of my fellow self-published authors out there, I cannot stress enough how important it is to get the editing part right.  For more than one reason.

Firstly, and this is a personal observation that has no statistics to back it up, people generally seem to be more critical of mistakes in self-published novels.  Even a couple of mistakes in a self-published novel, and the people I’ve talked to tend to say something like, “This is why I only read professional writers!”  No joke, I’ve heard someone say that.

Take your work seriously, or others won’t take you seriously.  Go through multiple edits, and if you can, get someone else to edit as well.  Get a friend or family member who’s good with English to edit.  Or better yet, if you can afford it, hire someone!  (I’m strongly considering offering my services as a freelance editor…)

In fact, getting someone else to edit your work is probably your best bet as the highest quality, because I’ve noticed too often that if it’s your own work, it’s much, much easier to miss mistakes.  Just look at the mistakes in my blog articles for evidence of that ;)

What it ultimately comes down to is this: glaring errors in your novel will stop the reader flat in their tracks.

Image source - http://il9.picdn.net/shutterstock/videos/10259909/thumb/1.jpg
Image source – http://il9.picdn.net/shutterstock/videos/10259909/thumb/1.jpg

To give an analogy, imagine you’re out on a romantic sunset walk with your significant other.  The trail you’re on is beautiful, the sky is alight with oranges and reds and purples.  Hand in hand with your love, you are enjoying the journey that is so perfect and so…

And then you come across a dead body on the trail.

….Well, that certainly made you stop, and go “Wait, what?!”  Suddenly the romance is gone, the walk is over, and how do you move on from there?  This is the sort of jarring effect a typo or misspelled word has on many, many readers.  We’re yanked out of the story, and it becomes very, very difficult to recapture the mood.

Ultimately, I’ve never found a single novel, traditionally published or self published, that had zero errors, so don’t stress so much over it that you never publish your work.  But please do take editing seriously, for your benefit and the benefit of your readers.

And for the record, editing can save lives.  Commas can save lives.  Because the difference between, “Let’s eat Grandma!” and “Let’s eat, Grandma!” is huge!!  ;)

Image Source - www.dailytelegraph.com.au
Image Source – http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

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