|Madeline McDowell Breckinridge ca 1920, |
US public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Being a professional writer, however, entails ever so much more than the technical definition of earning money for one's efforts implies.
One of the biggest complaints I hear—and see—with books written by independent authors is the sheer volume of grammar, punctuation, and spelling mistakes. In fact I would go as far as to say that poor editing is a leading contributor toward the subpar reputation of independently published books as a whole.
Mistakes will catapult a reader out of a story faster than you can&helip; think. And if you believe your readers won't notice or care about poor editing, then I respectfully suggest that you are underestimating —and alienating—a large sector of your audience.
That's not a risk that I'm willing to take with my own fiction, and I hope you agree.
To be fair, books churned out by the Big Six (or Five, or whatever the ever-collapsing count du jour) publishers often contain glaring errors too. The first edition of my novel Liberty, published by HQN Books in 2006, had sections of missing and repeated pages in three different combinations (!!), which proved to be a nightmare for me when trying assemble good copies for personal appearances. That wasn't an editing issue, of course, but it's a graphic illustration of my point that mistakes do happen at even the highest levels of the publishing business.
The bottom line is that authors who are contracted by large publishing houses already enjoy a level of respectability that's built in to the system. The rest of us must do our level best to achieve respectability on our own, and the first step toward that goal is to hire a good quality professional editor, and perhaps even two: one for content editing and one for copy editing.
My primary editor is Deb Taber, and I simply cannot say enough good things about her work. She is the consummate professional, she knows the English language inside and out (and, with regard to my projects, sideways :D), and she offers encouragement along with suggestions for improvement. I get nothing for mentioning her here other than the satisfaction of knowing that you will receive the highest quality feedback if you choose to hire her to edit your work.
Someone else whom I commend to your attention is Robin Allen of Griffin Editorial Services. I have known her for going on 15 years now, and all the copy editing work she has ever done for me has been absolutely top notch. Again, I get nothing for the mention other than knowing that you will be as delighted with her editing work as I have been.
You say you cannot afford to hire a good editor?
I say you cannot afford NOT to.
Budget for it, or set up a crowdfunding campaign if you must, but please do not be tempted by those who claim that you can successfully edit your own work. The fact is that the human brain is wired to see what it expects to see, thereby making it impossible to remain objective where the editorial process is concerned.
I implore you to help halt the downward spiral in perception of the quality of independent authors' works by hiring professional help to make your book be the absolute best product that it can be.
*** I need your help! ***
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