Currently Browsing: Editing

Do I Need An Editor For My Self Published Book?

This is one of those questions with several answers; a trick question if you like. The nearest I can get is, ‘probably.’ I have edited more than fifty self-published books, fiction and non fiction and in every case I had no doubt that I was needed and that it would pay my client to pay me! I have been following a discussion on line, which is sure to bewilder anyone looking for information. Yes, there was good advice, but also bad advice and fits of childish temper on the part of people who ought to have known better. One popular question was, ‘can a writer edit his or her work?’ That’s a tricky one. If you are writing a memoir or a book about a subject that you know backwards, the answer is usually ‘yes.’ In fact, the writer can do what the editor can’t, having more knowledge of the subject. That doesn’t mean that the editor is ignorant, merely that the writer will keep remembering things, researching fresh material and needing to update while writing. Back in 1991, I wrote a memoir called Breakfast the Night Before. It was published by a famous London house, André Deutsch. I had already had two novels accepted by Collins, also of London, and experienced a publishers’ editor. I didn’t know there were such people! I discovered the hard way that I could resist changes if I was sure I was right. When I wasn’t sure, I kept quiet. The books had done well, but I was nervous about the memoir. To my astonishment it came back to me with minor tweaks and nothing that I couldn’t understand. I discovered that the editor was the publisher herself, a prize-winning author, Diana Athill. Later, she wrote a wonderful foreword for my non-fiction Part-Time Writer, Notes and Reflections. Incidentally, Breakfast the Night Before was...

To Edit or Not to Edit?

Recently I triggered a seemingly unstoppable discussion on LinkedIn by asking writers if they would pay for editorial services and, if so, how much they would pay. Writers and editors weighed in with both yea and nay responses, various analyses of pricing, and the chasms into which writers fall when hiring an editor. Opinions ranged from one extreme to the other: either writers who fail to work with professional editors are doomed, or writers don’t need editors if they learn to edit for themselves. A writer wading through such a swamp might wonder who, if anyone, is right. Reality The reality lies in the middle. We all self-edit, and publishers edit even the greatest authors. That’s just how it works, or at least how it used to work in the age of traditional publishing. Today’s world of print-on-demand, self-publishing, and ebooks has rung a few changes on the old formula. While the traditional route is still available, it has become so easy to publish a book that everyone with a keyboard and half an idea has jumped into the business. It’s now possible for a writer to spring straight from rough draft to published work without a single edit. Is that a good thing? Absolutely not. Very few of us get everything right first time, every time. An unedited work usually reads like an unedited work, littered with typos, grammatical mistakes, and structural weaknesses. Readers seldom notice good editing, but they sure notice sloppiness and poor writing. As a writer, your byline is your brand, and you don’t want your brand associated with poor quality. Poor quality loses customers. Essential So editing is essential. The question is how to approach it, and the answer is not very different from what it used to be. First, self-edit. Check for spelling and grammatical errors, for poor organization, pacing problems, plot issues,...