When should a professional editor be used? When a writer of words wants to become an author.

Perfection in Editing

Many editors learned professional skills initially to support their own writing, but we quickly found out that we are not the best judge of our own work and probably the worst possible proofreader. All functions of our organic brain. Those biological functions we were born with that are impossible to disengage.

I recently saw a statistic on Twitter that most writers/authors are “editing” and “proofreading” their own work. And a large percentage of them aren’t editors or proofreaders . Yet, even if they were, doing it for yourself is a fool’s errand.

I get it … we have an idea; we start a book; it’s thrilling to be so engaged. But we have to make a living too. So we write at night, in the wee hours of the morning, get caught up in word counts and number of pages where “Haste makes waste” and quality may suffer.

Okay, then we think our book is finished. We think we have a best seller. Our friends and even our families sometimes support us. All good. Then, we supposedly start “editing”, finetuning. If I could change one inaccurate perception in the definition or connotation of one word, it would be this one.

You are not editing when you go through your own manuscript. You are “checking” your writing for all kinds of things. Yet, your brain sees what it expects to see, so missed words, wrong words, misspelled words, discrepancies in plot, inconsistencies can all go unnoticed. That doesn’t even take into consideration verb tenses, grammar, punctuation, and pace, flow, readability. But that’s okay since its accepted in the industry to have a few little flaws, isn’t it? We find them ourselves in other books, but not in “our books” because our brain reads right over them.

Those “little flaws” can stop an agent or publisher from reading any further. Reject it and move on because they have an inexhaustible supply of manuscripts to wade through. 

I also get it that money is tight. We need to get this to press in a hurry, start making money right away so we can write full-time and become one of the great writers of our generation. If only that were true.

The most productive use of a writer’s time and investment is in using a professional editor. Editors who are also authors use other professional editors for their own work. It is so true that we need an unbiased second set of eyes.

Do I use a professional editor and proofreader other than myself after I am finished “checking” my manuscript?

I answer you with  a definite, “YES”.

Don’t sell yourself or your writing short. The facts are out there. Your manuscript must be written to full industry standards. Your query letter professional.  Format must be correct.

“What? You mean as an author I need to know how to format my own book? Isn’t that what the agent and publisher are for?”

Ah, no, the market is too clogged with books for an agent to do anything but look for the one diamond that may someday come across their desk.

It’s a totally different market out there than our predecessors knew. The competition is brutal. Everyone is writing a book because with current technology, they can. This was not true in the past. The sheer numbers are daunting.

My most important advice? “The market is oversaturated. Put yourself on an even playing field. Submit a professional product.”

I am willing to work with authors offering affordable rates on a case-by-case basis. A 5-page read/ professional critique is free. Questions are free. I’m trying to help writers become authors.

–Deborah A. Bowman, bowmaneditor

cropped-cropped-writing32.jpg

 

 

 

 

A Writer is Only As Good as Their Editor…

Editing and proofreading is a professional service that every writer needs … even if you’re an editor yourself. Trying to correct and find problems in your own work is limiting. You need that second opinion, that second pair of eyes to see what your mind might skip right over because the mind convinces the eye to see what it expects to see, whether that’s what in print/on-screen or not. Words and images in print or online are forever, and they can and will come back to haunt you!

Typos, autocorrect, which can cause as many problems as it corrects by inserting an incorrect word just as often as the right one, especially synonyms like “rode” and “road”, aren’t the only concern. Awkward phraseology, verb tenses (an author’s nightmare–we think in present tense, but usually write in third-person past) can cause your reader to stop reading and move onto something else. There’s so much online to read!

Some genres and authors, both fiction and nonfiction, are using first-person present tense, which was a complete no-no in the writing industry when I was educated and have worked for many years. But every decade or so, experimental “new” ideas surface that are supposed to be unique and alternative. Have you ever heard, “There’s nothing new under the sun”? It’s a very true statement. It’s all been tried before and much has not stood the test of time.

We try to remain current and far-reaching for the future as writers, but it seems like the rules change all the time. There is this lackadaisical attitude that anything goes and typos, inaccuracies … well, they’re just to be accepted as “that’s the way it is–overlook them, and that’s not a misspelling, I’ve just created a new word!”

Styles change and words emerge, but as an avid reader, author, and editor I constantly stay in touch with what’s new in the writing industry to keep my clients on-track and in-sync with evolving trends. Yet, nowhere are typos, misused grammar, misspellings, and unclear syntax an attractive addition to a written piece.

The writing industry is more competitive and overcrowded than ever and that is going to keep escalating with technology. Write about what you care about, and just as importantly, care about the quality of what you write.

Best Wishes on Your Writing Endeavors!

–Deborah A. Bowman

http://www.clasidconsultantspublishing.com

cropped-cropped-writing32.jpg