March 13, 2013

Happy Readers Are Loyal Readers

I love reading.  No.  Really, you probably don't quite understand the depth of that love.  Let's put it this way, in years past I would visit the bookstore prior to a vacation and buy a huge stack of books.   My husband's response?  "What are you going to read on the second day?"

Of course, he was joking, but now you get the picture.

With my Kindle, it's so much easier now.  I download books on the go, but I'm always on the lookout for more books.  A few months ago, I discovered BookBub.  I tell them my preferences, and they send me a daily email of suggested books available for free or at low prices for a short time.  At first, if the book sounded interesting and was free, I just downloaded it.  Afterall, if it was no good, I wasn't out any money.

Now, I'm a bit more selective.

Why?

Editing.  A simple process that appears to take a backseat to self-publication.  Many self-published authors reduce their price or offer their titles free in hopes of building a readership.  I just wish they would take the time to have someone professionally edit their story first.  The biggest issue?  Grammar and typos.

I'm a writer.  I've gone back through my pages and changed something only later to spot a random word still hanging around.  It fit the earlier sentence, not the revised one.  If you proofread your own work, these leftovers are hard to spot.  It's well worth the time to let someone else read your work fresh.

Editing falls into other categories, too.  Not too long ago, I did a flow and plot edit for a writer.  His story was good, but he needed someone to go through it and show him the gaps in the story arc.  As mentioned in this earlier post, a story has an arc that builds to the climax.  Too often, self-published books don't adhere to this essential story-telling structure.  Somewhere along the line, the reader stops and says:  "Huh?"

Before my self-published friends get mad at me, I'm not saying all self-published books are bad.  These problems occur in traditionally published books, too.  We've all sat down to read a best seller and spotted some typo or grammar issue.

All I'm saying is please, Please, PLEASE let a trusted and qualified editor read your work before you submit it to an agent or spend the money to self-publish it.  You'll save your reputation and make your readers happy in the long run.  And let's face it, happy readers are loyal readers.

Image courtesy of adamr/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

2 comments:

Alexis said...

I agree proofreading and editing are important in self-publishing or any writing. Absolutely. The problem for someone like me is literally I cannot AFFORD to pay to have my book professionally edited. It is *literally* outside the range of possibilities and has been the entire time I've been developing my work. On the other hand, the thing I do have (time) I can spend freely and do. Has this meant there were errors in my earlier work? Yes. Did I have to go back and correct them? Yes. Do I still have errors in my first book? Probably, but none of my readers have been able to point them out to me.

In light of this, what would you suggest? Because I'd love a solution and I'm not going to let money keep me from pursuing my writing.

Barbara V. Evers said...

Alexis,

It isn't cheap to have someone proofread your manuscript, but it pays off in the long run. Still, if you don't have the money up front, you have to seek other editing options.

One of the ways you can do this is to join a writers' group. It may take some time to find one that you trust, but there are some great groups out there. The writers' group I belong to meets twice a month to critique each others' work. Over time, you begin to recognize who will tell you the truth and can spot the things that will strengthen your work. Those persons might be willing to proofread your work at little or no cost to you. Sometimes, they are willing to barter for something besides money. Keep in mind, you have to form a relationship with them first, but it is one inexpensive way to have your work proofread.

Some writers ask friends who are English teachers to proofread or edit their work for grammar issues. Again, it depends on the relationship with the person as to whether they will do it at no charge.

The one thing you need is to be clear with your editor about what kind of edit you want. Do you want them to edit for grammar, for plot, for flow? There are several areas to consider.

If these options don't work for you, I do edit manuscripts on contract at times. I usually ask for 5 pages to determine what your writing looks like. If I think I can help you, I give you a quote. The rest is up to you.

Whatever you do, good luck to you! And thanks for the comment!