Monday, 16 December 2013

To edit or not to edit?

I knew it couldn't last. Our beautiful sunny days have gone, and we've got dank, dismal weather now. Though it is not particularly cold. That must be still in the pipeline.  So, time to get down to work. There's housework, of course. There always is, but I prefer to save that up and do it in huge blasts - then I can see where I've been!

Instead, let me think aloud about the current craze in self-publishing, which is that we should get our stories professionally edited before we self-publish. I wonder if that is strictly true, or is it simply another bandwagon? I sit here and think back over the freebies I've downloaded from Amazon and I have to agree that  yes, many of them would have benefitted from editorial skills. That isn't to say that it would have made the stories any better, but it would have made them more readable.

On the other hand, if English is your subject at university level, and you've read all your life; if you are happy to consult Fowler or Quirk now and then for the correct style rule - or perhaps Lynne Truss these days - do you really need it? Some of these editors charge as much as £800 or £900 for 100k manuscripts. That's a lot of dosh to pay out.

In a way it is akin to putting a new type of barrier in front of wannabee authors, few of whom can afford such fees. If you self-edit your own work five or six times over a space of months, surely you can catch the errors? Sometimes Amazon software puts a glitch in the work, too. I know I downloaded and  "proofread" one of my self-published books just to see how it came out, spotted an error and went back to my original only to find it error-free at that point. I'm not trying to claim my work is perfect, far from it. But in that instance, the error came from the software. Presumably if you paid for editing, that sort of glitch could still occur.

One aspect of having an editor work with me that appeals is having them comment on the storyline, characters, etc. Now that sort of editing may well persuade me to try it.

5 comments:

Jen Black said...


Margaret Scott Chrisawn commented on a link you shared.
Margaret wrote: "Based on some of the SPAs I've had the misfortune to encounter, I'm all for barriers being put up in whatever form they may take. It is far too easy to offload pure dross on the public and charge for it these days."

Laura Purcell said...

I hired an editor and found it extremely useful, it transformed my work. While I agree you can probably proofread for yourself if you take a long time and have the experience, editing structurally and developmentally is something no author can do all by themselves.

Jen Black said...

I suspect you're both right....
Jen

Ursula Thompson said...

I know I couldn't afford to hire a professional editor, but on the other hand some books that I got on Amazon sounded interesting enough but had such horrible grammar, typos, run-on sentences and weird sentence structures that I couldn't finish them.

Jen Black said...

I know what you mean, Ursula. I've seen some of them, too.