Sunday, June 17, 2012

For Your Reader's Sake, Get an Editor!

Like most writers, I read a lot, more so since I bought a Kindle.  Instant gratification and inexpensive (or free) books have increased by digital library to over three hundred.  The drawback is, I often come across books that need editorial help.
I know the lure of self-publishing.  No slush piles and endless waiting for someone’s stamp of approval, plus the pride of having a “real” book published.
I won’t get into the revolution in the industry today.  Personally, I don’t look at who’s publishing a book when I buy it.  Winona Writer or the Big Six, it doesn’t make a difference.  What does is the quality of writing and whether it was edited or not. 
You may have a great novel on your hands, but sloppiness counts against my decision to buy another of your books.
Two recent examples come to mind.
1) Unnamed Western.  Despite missing commas, etc., this one hit the digital wall when the sweltering heat of July switched to August in the same scene.  Later, the hero and heroine and an Army captain were surrounded by hostile natives and considering their options of escape when the same captain charged toward them from the fort, breaking up the tense situation.
A good editor would have fixed these inconsistencies.
2) Unnamed Regency.  This one almost was thrown against the digital wall in the first two pages when sisters Millicent, Mildred, Maude and their mother Felicity were introduced.  In theory it might sound cute to alliterate their names, but to me, it was damned confusing.  Fortunately, I stuck it out.  Two of the sisters and the mother disappeared for most of the book, and I enjoyed a good story with an interesting twist.
A good editor would have suggested renaming the minor characters.
When you self-publish, you don’t have the benefit of a paid editor, but there are options.  A critique partner, a friend or two with eagle eyes, or freelancing the service.  Whatever you do, don’t risk the irritation of your future readers by neglecting this important step.
For your reader’s sake, get an editor!
What gaffes have you noticed in your reading?

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