Posts Tagged ‘bad editing’

Dang … Long Time No Blog

Posted: November 4, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

Ah well. 

The past eight months have been a study in Life’s Bullshit Bullseye. I parted from the publisher I worked for. Why? Well, I’m not telling you the details, but let’s just say it had to do with an Ego Author. *Shrug* I’m not surprised the MS tanked in ratings. 

Since then, I’ve pushed for my own editing business, and it is doing fairly well. I like working with new authors, and especially authors going the route of self-publishing. Frankly, after having dealt with bitching NYTBSA, and many  of the Inflated Sense of Ego mindset, it is nice to help those who give a damn about writing.

Don’t get me wrong. We write not only because we have a story to tell, but also because we’d like to make a little money – at least on the side. Most of us understand from the get go we will always have to have the job to pay the bills. And hell, I’m just happy if I earn the money I invested. 

Here lately I’ve read a lot of blogs shaming editors. Sorry, going to rant a little. 

If a book says it’s been edited, but readers find mistakes, or the story is choppy, *BAM* blame the editor! Now, I grant you, there are some crappy “editors” out there. They can’t find a pronoun with a map and red marker. I’ve seen people decide they are editors, without any practical experience, put up a “Welcome” sign and charge outrageous amounts. Considering the amount of training, interning, and education I went through, and being a part of every association to ensure I keep up with the changes, these types of “editors” drive me up the proverbial wall. But that is for another day, and I’ll tell you how to avoid them.

Outside of traditional publishing, editors often only get one pass on an MS. One. The author then either implements the edits, or ignores them completely. They don’t understand that adding in a single sentence can interrupt the natural flow, or their egos won’t let them remove a well written, but utterly useless scene. The authors don’t want to pay for a second edit, or at the very least, a decent proofread. 

Instead, they consider it edited and publish. For my own work, we do multiple passes. I never let it go out without at least two proofreads, three edits and one last “What did I miss” pass. I don’t expect that kind of edit/revision out of others, but they should at least do the mechanical edits, and pay for a proofread. 

Once it’s published, they are surprised when readers review it and say it wasn’t edited. Then all fingers are pointed at the editor. 

It kind of pisses me off. I’ve had MS shoved onto my desk, spent one hundred fifty hours editing the ugly thing, making sure the voice shines, all mechanical mistakes are pointed out, suggested ways to strengthen and improve the plot, pointed out plot holes, and bad transitions. The author exercised their right to ignore 90% of it. Then sent me a flaming email when readers pointed it all out, and the book tanked. All of them blamed me. 

And this is the norm.

So in the future, before you blame the editor for a badly written book, remember, the author may have had one of the best editors out there, and paid for it. But the editor cannot force an author to do the edits. I often wonder why these types of authors pay for editors if they aren’t going to follow the advice. 

On the flip side, I’ve had authors who are a DREAM to edit. I have my favorites, I won’t lie. The MSs sent to me were well written, they had multiple beta readers and critique partners. They went over it with a fine tooth comb. They read it to a captive audience (hopefully not illegally). They studied writing, and their first book is far above those that call themselves veterans. Did they take every single bit of my advice? Hell no. One only took the mechanical pointers, reworked it, sent it back for a proofread, and Holy WOW! They took the spirit of my advice and ran with it. I have those on my bookshelves. I brag of them often, “You HAVE to read this book!” None of their reviews have one peep about editing. They took their journey to publishing seriously, not aiming for instant riches, but long term audience.

And that is the crux of it. My clients aren’t required to follow my advice. Most do take the mechanical stuff seriously, knowing I use the Chicago Manual of Style, the accepted norm in the publishing industry. Some have completely ignored my suggestions, but they also knew I’d found a weakness.

Am I the perfect editor? No. Are you smoking something? Is it legal in your state? But I also have more than twenty years experience, and I pass that to every client. I don’t want them to write in my voice, and I spend hours helping with insecurities, I never fail to tell them the great stuff, their strengths. I’m a writer, I get it. I cheer for my clients, hoping they make their dreams come true. That is part of what I do, after all.

Okay, ranting about blaming the editor is over. When I get a few, I’ll do a blog about watching out for bad editors. They exist, and one should be vigilant when choosing the person who will go over every line of your book.