Thursday, August 21, 2014

Why you need an editor, even if you're in a hurry or broke

© 2013 Christy K Robinson

I get it.

  • You’ve been a writer since you were able to read, and you have a good command of English.
  • Your writing application has spell-check, and even gives a wavy green underline for questionable prose.
  • Your mother is a better speller than you are, and she read it through for free.
  • There’s only a short window of time to get your self-pub on the market before you’re broke, the topic loses momentum, or the gifting season ends.
  • The story is “the thing,” and spelling, rhetoric, punctuation, characterization, and story arc can take a back seat to driving the high-performance story.


Yeah, not so much.

Some readers believe that a book or publication with more than one error is a mark of the author’s disrespect for readers. Others say that if an author can’t present the information or story in a standardized form, they can't be trusted to have their facts or history well-researched. 

Remember the carpenter's old saw: "Measure twice. Cut once." If you're in such a rush to get your golden prose onto the market that you can't wait a few weeks or a month to go through an edit and revisions, then you can't wait to have your mistakes (grand and memorable blunders or simple typos) entwined with your byline, preserved for all time in e-readers or bookshelves.

Don't think that your mistakes won't affect your sales. Dissatisfied readers will not sully their names and reputations by recommending your book! The following are comments I've cherry-picked from Amazon and Goodreads reviewers who don’t claim to be editors:
  • “Far too many grammatical & spelling mistakes on every page.”
  • “I found it difficult to read, because of the poor grammar and some spellings. Want some examples? There, instead of their, and the dreaded grocer's apostrophe. Perhaps the last one should be grocers' apostrophe, as they all seem to use it. Overall, a good tale, very topical, but could perhaps have been cut down by around 100 pages.”
  • “Appalling punctuation and grammar, which made it virtually impossible to read. It's one of the few books I haven't been able to finish. Very disappointing.”
  • “What an awkward book. I kept wanting to add all the missing words and reverse the order of many that were there so that sentences made sense. I love books that draw you in, flow along with the story timeline, and allow you to get lost in the lives of the characters. This story does none of those things.”
  • “I find the story interesting, the characters well-drawn, the pacing good, and the scenes vivid. But the many grammatical errors and formatting are terribly distracting! There are pages missing from Chapter 18. Words that the author wishes to emphasize are written in all-caps. The point of view changes abruptly between characters, and often I'm not sure who is emoting or speaking. "They're and there" and "your and you're" will certainly pass a Microsoft Word spell check, but glare up off the pages. The differences between British and American spellings or expressions are not an issue for me. Spelling, though, cannot be an excuse for the other problems with this manuscript.”

Don't let a spell-checker stand in for an editor! As a reader, I can't finish an article or book that contains more than one or two misspellings, lacks proper punctuation, or uses the wrong homonym (bait/bate, pore/pour). Just a moment ago, I saw a headline for an information blog that advertised: "Cabbage leaf will relive migraine headache." If the author can't tell the difference between "relive" and "relieve," I don't need to waste my time reading the article. No need to relive misery. Do you see what happened there (besides the fact that I'm picky)? The blog author lost the opportunity to draw me in. I didn't visit, and he/she lost respect as well as possible advertising revenue. 

I've been a professional editor and proofreader for many years, but when I published my first novel (second book), I put it out to professional colleagues to catch the things I'd become blind to over the two years of writing. I took their edits and was grateful for them. This is my reputation on the line, as well as anticipated sales of the book.

Notice that the popular authors (Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, William Butler Yeats) listed on Mental Floss had editors to save their butts everlasting reputations. Eleven Historical Figures Who Were Really Bad at Spelling  

So call me! I'll edit your book, article, website, syllabus, dissertation or thesis for very reasonable rates. My contact info is on my website,

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