A follow-up to a rant ;-)

Reblogged from Linda Hilton:

One of the problems facing authors in the digital self-publishing age is editing, in its various manifestations.

 

Most of us who have read very much author-published digital fiction have learned to recognize that which has been edited and that which . . . has not.  Too often our complaints at being charged traditionally-published prices for self-published-and-unedited works are met with the lament, "But I couldn't afford to have it edited!  When I sell a few hundred copies, then I'll be able to hire an editor."  And of course those first few hundred readers are simply written off, or perhaps are wooed back with a promise of a free copy of the newly edited revised version.

 

My advice to eager would-be authors has always been that they should learn as much as they possibly can so they are able to do much of their own editing.  The first thing they ought to learn is just what "editing" means.

 

Spell check is not editing, but it should still be done.  I have seen far too many author-published books that have clearly not even been scanned for the little squiggly lines in MSWord that indicate a misspelling.  The Kindle Direct Publishing platform has a spell check function.  Yet authors still don't avail themselves of this?  It's FREE!

 

Proofreading is not editing, but an author can at least make the effort to go over the text file to look for obvious errors, such as missing words, wrong words, and so on.  But proofreading is probably the most commonly purchased service that authors confuse with real editing.  A competent proofreader can fix punctuation errors, usage errors, even some grammatical mistakes. 

 

But proofreading is not editing.  In the case of really terrible writing, a proofreader can't help because the text needs to be edited and rewritten.

 

Some editing can be done in a critique group format.  If the writer has competent critique partners, she can learn where her characterization is weak or inconsistent, where some of her plot holes are, how to fix glaring errors of continuity, when to trim and when to expand, and so on.  The more the writer knows about story construction, the better she will be able to evaluate and then implement suggested changes.

 

The author who refuses to learn, on the other hand, runs the risk of either uploading a piece of garbage and being castigated for it by disgruntled readers, or being suckered by an incompetent masquerading as an editor.

 

And while I've been recently called to task for not helping the poor struggling authors more than I already do, I should point out that I've frequently helped them avoid the pitfalls the unscrupulous lay for them. 

 

 

Ms. Harrison did not appreciate my comment.

 

 

 

I think she reported me to Goodreads for being a meanie or something.

 

I don't want writers to fail.  I want ALL writers to succeed, to write wonderful books that readers love to read and share and reread.  I don't want incompetent people to take advantage of writers.  But I can't help it if the writers just flat out refuse to learn.  The first part of learning is admitting you don't know whatever it is you want to learn.