Another Writer Bites the Dust

I spoke with a woman the other day about what we were reading. She told me about a book she'd bought because the author is local. "The story wasn't bad," she said, "but I don't think he had an editor. I had to force myself to finish because there were so many mistakes."

I'm guessing she will never buy another book by that author.

Mistakes happen. In the book I'm reading at the moment, a big-publisher, hardcover offering I bought in a bookstore, the author says that the rescue workers needed a place to "lie" the wounded woman down. That hurt my English teacher heart, but for the most part, we can expect publishing-house books to be well-edited.

Self-pubbed authors are often the worst. They don't hire an editor because they think they're "pretty good with grammar," or they have a relative or friend who is. It's not the way to go. You love your writing, and your momma (cousin, sister, whoever) loves you. An editor needs to be someone who doesn't love you. Preferably someone who wouldn't know you if they tripped over you in an alley.

I'm in the process of finalizing Raining Cats and Cats (release is June 19). As I've written here before, my process is to write essentially a rough draft and then hire a reader to give me a sense of "Does the story track?" and "Where do I need to make adjustments?" Once I hear her comments, I rework the story, often more than once. Then I hire an editor. It isn't always easy to find the best editor for a particular writer. Editors have weaknesses, just as authors do. They might notice sentence structure but miss plot holes, or vice versa, so I try to work with editors who see my weaknesses as a writer (usually not enough explanation because I know what I meant :) ). Once the editor is finished, I rework the book again. Then I send it to the copy editor, who checks the grammar and punctuation. I've worked with mine for some time, so I trust her judgment, but I still go through it once more while I'm setting the book up for publication. Then I order reader copies and hand them out to people who hunt for the few remaining mistakes as they read. I'm always surprised when they each find different things, but again, we see what we look for.

Might there be mistakes left in the text? Sure. Have I done everything I can do to prevent that? Yes. I recommend that other writers do something similar, so nobody confides to a friend, "I had to force myself to finish because there were so many mistakes."


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