Have you noticed the plethora of blogs recently chattering about the “importance of editing”? Must be the season! Probably because spring is almost here and we authors are about to “spring” our winter ramblings on publishers.
But I do think it’s a critical topic, so I’m going to add my two cents to the discussion.
I’m about to place my first novel on Amazon’s Kindle platform. (Look for The Oath, by Dennis Koller – I know. I know. A blatant marketing ploy. I just couldn’t help myself.) There has been so much to think about these last few days before it goes live; one being “reviews”. I have a few already in hand, so I went to Amazon last night to check out the way they work; i.e., what’s expected, how many to have, etc.
While rummaging around, I came across any number of reviews that were not at all kind. What a downer, I thought, for someone to get a scathing review (the two-edged sword of the reviewing process, I know), but it’s even worse when the reviewers liked the story, but because of the typos and bad sentence structure, couldn’t give the work a good rating.
I thought it would be instructive to share some of those reviews with you, thinking that they could be used as both a warning and an incentive to get your book proofread; preferably by someone who actually knew what they were doing.
The following “reviews” all came from mystery/thriller novels in the first 30 pages (of the 400 mystery/thriller pages) on Kindle.
“I liked the premise, but to be honest, there is much work that needs to be done in terms of editing; especially with the confusing sentences that I often had to re-read to understand.”
“A good read but needs some fine tuning.”
“With a little bit of editing to eliminate the errors such as typos and missing words, the flow would have been much more enjoyable.”
“I’m one who demands perfection in the books I read, and grimace when I see errors. If this novel had good editing, it would be an exceptional read because the author definitely has talent.”
Damn! Realizing that devastating reviews of this type could wreak havoc on our books’ sales, I thought maybe we should all start swapping the names of good editors we’ve dealt with or know about. If you have any names of editors to submit, list them here for all to see (with their permission, of course).
I understand that not all of us can afford to hire a professional editor, but to keep from receiving “reviews” like the above, you have to get someone who is a giant step up from Aunt Sally (unless, of course, your Aunt Sally is someone like Edgar Award finalist Sally Wright or best selling author Sally Berneathy).
From my own experience, if you are going to ask non-professionals to edit your work, it is critical to get someone who at least enjoys reading your genre. If they don’t, you’ll find they will keep it for a long time and then return it saying they haven’t got the time. That happened to me with my new book The Oath (which, have I mentioned, is going live as an eBook on Amazon Kindle early next week?). The first two friends, who said they would be happy to edit the book, wasted a lot of my time (and I’m sure theirs) before giving it back to me with the apology that mysteries just weren’t their thing.
I have colleagues who have been very successful finding competent editors at writing groups in their own locales. You can find local groups through meetup.com (I did and loved it) or Craigslist.
If anyone has other ideas on this utterly fascinating topic, please post your comments below. And if you want to be notified about The Oath and when it appears on Kindle, be sure to Follow my blog by leaving your email address on the left.
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3 thoughts on “The Intimacy Between Sales and Good Editing”
Love the book. Felt my tears as well. Semper fi
First of all I would like to say terrific blog! I had a quick question which I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was curious to know how you center yourself and clear your thoughts before writing.
I have had a hard time clearing my mind in getting my ideas out.
I do enjoy writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are usually lost simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any ideas or tips?
There is no easy solution to that issue that I know of. Maybe authors more experienced can give you a fuller answer than my feeble attempt that follows:
I go to sleep every night thinking about the book I’m writing (I just finished Kissed By The Snow, so instead of thinking of it, I think of how best to market it). In the quiet of the room, I put together the next chapter or two in my head. I usually come up with some usable stuff. I do the same in the morning before I get up. If I think of just the right phrase or some part of a scene, I grab the notebook next to the bed and write it down. Then I can get up leisurely, have breakfast, read the sports page, have coffee and feel pretty good when I sit down to continue writing.
That’s the ideal. About half the time, though, I come up “empty” and ask myself the same question you posed. What I’ve found is that it may take a while for my Muse to finish her breakfast (and maybe lunch), but because I prepared for her arrival the night before and the morning of… she’ll usually show up sometime during the day. You just have to be patient and wait. Oh … and have plenty of writing tablets available for all the crap you scribble down before she arrives. At least that’s what I tell myself.
I hope that helps a little. Just push on through the dead time, knowing that it’s just a momentary lull.