I mutter this phrase every time I finish a book. Why? Because now I have to edit it. (insert heavy sighing). Since I started out in this book world I have paid big bucks for editing that was mediocre and I've paid no money for editing that was excellent. The problem is, you never know which way it's going to go. We also know regardless of how much money you're about to spend, to make your baby 'perfect', it never will be. When writers finish a manuscript they tend to freak out for a while and say, "What if it's terrible?" "What if people hate it?" "What if I just penned the next bestseller?" I'm never writing again! (insert heavy sighing) Those questions are all 'what if's' that have to be addressed by the dreaded red pen. The red pen of doom, or rather the red pen of MS Word editing doom, but that's equivalent to your English teacher's red pen, in this day of modern technology. The first question will be answered with a comment from the editor like, "This doesn't even make sense to me." The second will be answered in a review by some 'editor for day' who only read the first paragraph, but decided to leave a review on the book even though 'they didn't finish it'. And the third will probably be a resounding NO for the majority of us in the book world.
Have you ever picked up a book and rolled your eyes at the misuse of their, there and they’re. Come on, is it that hard?, you're asking yourself. How about the extra word in the sentence, or the inappropriate use of to, too, and two? I can think of a few times where I have noticed some pretty big editing errors in a book I’m reading. Take for example, a new release of a big name author I was recently reading. The first chapter read like she had taken her outline, and made it a paragraph. My nine year old could seriously do a better job of making that flow. After the third paragraph, I had to give up. I'd read 20 of this author's books, but that was the last straw for me, there would be no 21.
Everyone's a critic, right? As an author I’ve decided to pen the new phrase, ‘Everyone’s an editor’, because in this day and age of modern technology, everyone thinks they are. When I went from ‘writer’ to ‘author’ I thought, ‘I guess I should have this edited?’ I didn’t know a hill of beans about editing a fiction book, other than to know I better have someone else look at it. I didn’t have a team of full time editors, an author’s advance, or endless amounts of cash in my bank account, so I did the best I could. I learned pretty quickly that some readers are on the lookout for ‘editing’ mistakes. I’ve even seen reviews on self-published books where people give their opinions about how the book ‘should’ have been edited. (Upon checking their Facebook posts, I decided to put very little stock into what they said) However, if you go to the review pages of big publishing house authors, you don’t see people tearing them to shreds over the errors in their books (and as above, oh are there ever some doozies). Why is that? Is it because readers feel so connected to these "bestsellers" that even though they have penned an essentially mediocre book, they still give glowing reviews? Is it because readers think since they are a big name they don't have the right to question why it's so terrible? What is the difference between a very poorly edited 'signed author' and a well edited 'indie author'? Well, according to my unscientific poll, nothing. Not a thing. Take two edited manuscripts, with no familiar names or titles, and put them side by side. What do you have? Two edited manuscripts. Shocking right?
Now, notice up above there where I said I was ‘reading’ the new book, but I didn't say ‘enjoying’? There was a reason. I love to read and I read, a lot. I read big name authors, local authors, medium named authors, and people who should never, ever pick up a pencil again. You know what? I found errors in all of them. It’s human nature to make mistakes. I make them, you make them, we all make them. (There are probably a dozen in this post alone) You know when I notice them less? When I’m ENJOYING a book. Yup, I yelled that, because I wanted it to stand out. When I'm reading a book I'm really into, I don't notice the misused, misplaced or misspelled words as much. My brain just replaces it with what it should be, and I keep going. Soooooo here comes the part where I get to give an opinion, and of course, it is my opinion alone. (Though I know a lot of people who agree with me). If I’m going to pay thirteen dollars for a kindle book of a big named bestseller with every tool at his or her disposal, said book better be edited to darn close to perfection. No if, an or butt about it! I know that nobody's perfect, but I think if you have every editing guru at your fingertips, it better be close.
That said, if I’m going to pay three dollars for a kindle book from an indie author, I’m going to accept that the editing may not be ‘darn close to perfect’. Yet, if the three dollar kindle book is enjoyable, I’m still going to give the author a good review. I’m not going to pretend I’m an editor, and give them editing advice in said review. Why? Because if the book is enjoyable the few extra thes, there instead of their, the missing comma or the wrong tense fade to the background. The story takes over and the journey is about the characters, and not about how ‘I’, the self proclaimed editor, would change it. You’re sputtering right now, aren’t you? ‘But, but, but, but, there are a lot of BAD books out there, and readers need to know!’, you’re yelling at your computer screen. Don’t get your cacks in a wad, because I agree 100%. There are some terrible, really awful, no good, no one even looked at this a second time, kind of books out there. When I get one of those books I think, 'well, it isn't my cup of tea, but that doesn't mean it won't be someone else's favorite book.' So, I shake my head, stop reading, hit the delete button, and steer clear of that author. I don’t rip them apart in a review (after all, I didn't finish the book) and I don’t buy the next book just to see if it is as bad as the first. Novel, I know.