Guest blogger Robert N. Stephenson on “The Difficulty with Editing.”
In this fast-paced age of publishing and self-publishing, the first and most important aspect of writing seems to have vanished from the whole publishing process - editing, and I mean real editing, not the formatting you do yourself before you post the files to Createspace and Amazon.
The down side of almost all self-published books is that they are poorly edited. They often validate the impression that all self-published books are cheap and a waste of money.
Sometimes authors pays substantial fees to editors for their suggestions, but them ignore or argue against those comments. Yes, you are the author. You have all the rights in the world regarding how your book is presented, rightly or wrongly. It is true that you can reject all advice, based on what you determine to be art, or your artistic voice.
But, and this is a major but, if an expert suggests a change to make the story better, or to fix a flaw in the plot, maybe it’s best to follow some, if not all of that advice. After all, you are trying to sell your work to readers who expect value for their money. If you disappoint readers with shoddy editing and a poor story, they will not read more of your work and will often tell others not to bother. What's more, they will spread the view that ALL self-published books are rubbish. I will be quick to add that traditional publishing sometimes delivers stinkers because writers ignore editorial advice and stick to their artistic guns. However, the hit-and-miss rate of legacy publishers is quite a bit lower than among self-publishers - which is currently about 80% rubbish.
Why so high? As indicated, there has been next to no editing involved in the creation of these books (both fiction and nonfiction). For some strange reason, new writers often think they are the next JK Rowling and know everything there is to know about being famous. Yet they know absolutely nothing about being a professional writer and working damn hard to tell not only a good story, but a story that will move someone to say, “Yes, I was glad I purchased that.” It has been said in many forums that places like Amazon are overflowing with poorly edited crap.
Yep, pure unadulterated crap.
What is the cure? Dig into your pockets and pay an editor to get your book to a state of professional quality. The reason traditional publishers actually sell books is because they invest in the books they publish. If you believe in your work, surely you too can invest in yourself. After all, you are asking readers to invest in buying your book.
Robert N. Stephenson’s latest book is Uttuku, available at Kindle here. His work has appeared in many languages and he has received honors such as the Black Dog Award for nonfiction and the Aurealis Award for short science fiction. He teaches writing at several Australia colleges.