It’s every writer’s worst nightmare. You spend months working on a book, you have everything together and you send it to print. Then someone comes to you with your book in hand, opens it up and says, "Ohoh, there’s an error here.”
You try to convince yourself that you can let it go and hope no one else sees it but it doesn’t go away. You have to go back and fix it. Your masterpiece is ruined because you missed that comma, misspelling or typo.
It has happened to all of us as writers. Even the big time writers, with major publishing houses behind them, from time to time, have errors in their books. It may not take away too much from the story but enough of them can become annoying to a more savvy reader.
It’s even more disheartening when you hire an editor to the job and, after paying for the job, you go to print and a reader says “I found several errors, you really need to get an editor.”
Newsflash people, editors make mistakes too. They sometimes miss things in a manuscript that, your English professor from college who bought your book, catches.
I have had this happen multiple times from four different editors. One of which was so bad I had to pull the book entirely. Granted the average person on the street who read my work may have found one or two obvious issues it was those who have experience in editing that found the big ones. What do you do? What’s the best route to take? Should you even bother getting an editor if this happens? Let’s discuss it.
First off, yes, you need an editor. Editor’s do more than just correct grammar and spelling. They provide valuable insight to your story, can help you shape it better with suggestions and ideas and make you revisit concepts that you may have thought were not important.
In my novel, The Dead Syndicate: Trial of the Archnemesis, the editor gave me great advice on how to start the book off. Although I liked what I had written for the prelude, the editor explained to me why it wouldn’t work. He suggested that I take the interludes in my book and mix them up so as to keep the story flowing better since the book was so heavy and rich with details. Of course, I didn’t need to take his advice but the fact that he gave it made me look at the book from a different angle. The angle turned out to be better than what I had originally written.
It’s always good to have someone that is not a friend, relative or teacher who can look at the story objectively. The three I just mentioned do come in handy in this process but I will get that later. For now, you want to get someone who doesn’t know you, the writer, and can take the work apart. Then put it back together to help you get the most out of your book.
Finding an editor these days isn’t as difficult as it used to be. Finding the RIGHT editor is. Many editors specialize in certain genres. For example, you wouldn’t want an editor who specializes in romance novels editing your science fiction novel about aliens taking over the world. They may be able to check for grammar but structure may be much more difficult because they’re not familiar with the genre you’re writing in. If you find an editor you want to work with, ask questions. Find out if they handle your kind of work.
Be sure to do your research when it comes to finding an editor online. As with many things on the web, there are some who are only out to take your money and will not do the kind of job you need. Read testimonials, ask questions and compare pricing. Make sure that you are getting quality work done for what you are paying for.
WORKING WITH AN EDITOR
You want to find an editor that you can have a good rapport with. Also, you have to be flexible and be ready to take criticism. Remember, the editor is trying to help you, not hinder you.
Editors will give you suggestions on how to make your work stronger. Now this doesn’t necessarily mean that the suggestions they give are 100% correct. In the end, you decide what changes need to be made, but you shouldn’t dismiss them. Editors will give reasons why they feel something works and others don’t. Take time to read and compare their suggestions with what you have written.
AFTER THE EDIT
I mentioned before about not having family, friends or teachers edit your work but I did say they would play a role later. This is when they play that role.
Editors are people. People make mistakes plain and simple. I have read books by authors who are published by big time publishing houses and found mistakes. Doesn’t mean that the editor is bad at what they do, things are missed sometimes. There are times though; you may get an editor that will fix the obvious but miss things like punctuation and, in some cases, grammar. When it comes to you proofreading your own work, you will miss these things too. This is when you enlist the help of the three I mentioned.
You should always get someone to proofread what the editor has done. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have had something edited and my wife, someone in my writing group and even my brother, have found mistakes.
Some readers are more particular than others. While many of us who read may not pick up on everything, there are quite a few people out there that will find every little thing. I recommend finding someone like an ex-editor or English teacher who can do a clean read of your work. If they find a hefty amount of mistakes in your edit, you should contact the editor immediately and let them know what has been found.
Don’t pay an editor until you are absolutely sure your work is clean. Once that check or credit card payment clears, it’s too late. You can go back and complain but it will prove futile in the end.
- Marc L Abbott
- I am a self published author from Brooklyn, New York. I have been publishing my work since 2004 and currently have four titles on the market in print and ebook format. I write horror and fantasy fiction as well as books for young adult. I am also a playwright with stage productions in and around New York City. Visit my website at www.hobbcatpublishing.com