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Self-Publishing and Editing

I just read something in one of my author groups where a badly-written blurb of a self-published book was being discussed, and someone stated the lack of editing was the problem with self-publishing.

Self-published books are NOT always unedited.

Publisher-produced books are NOT necessarily edited correctly or well.

There is absolutely nothing stopping a self-published author from hiring an editor and proofers, just like there's nothing stopping her from purchasing a professional cover. I use a content editor and two proofers. In The Starving Years I've used two beta readers as well. I do suspect that many self-published authors are not jumping through the extra hoops. The last self-published work I looked at had errors on the very first page. But there's certainly no secret society of editors who are blacklisting an author simply because they're self-publishing.


( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 4th, 2012 08:19 am (UTC)
Your books are always well done. You put a lot of work into them and that's the difference. Many publishers do not. If I may ask, where did you find your content editor? Is Amazon a good place to self publish? Ali & I have a lot of stories that are ours again and we are looking into re-editing them and putting them somewhere.
Jan. 4th, 2012 09:12 am (UTC)
My content editor wrote to me to tell me she enjoyed my book and I noticed the word "editor" in her email address, and asked if she'd be interested in working with me.

Amazon is my favorite place to self-publish. They keep a reasonable cut of the sales price, and they market your book for you by showing it to customers who are buying similar products. Other places charge you for that service, on top of keeping a bigger cut of your cover price.
Jan. 4th, 2012 09:27 am (UTC)
Thank you. I'll definitely look into it when we get to that point.
Jan. 4th, 2012 08:57 am (UTC)
You also have to listen to your editor. I wonder how much authors do that--especially when they are the ones paying the editor.
Jan. 4th, 2012 09:21 am (UTC)
Certainly I can't speak for all authors, but I don't find it useful to blindly listen to an editor. I prefer to think about what they're saying and why. They might think X doesn't work and tell me to change it to something else...when in fact I need to change something before X so that it makes better sense.

Putting the title "editor" on someone doesn't ensure that they know better than the author. Often in this genre they have little to no professional training or experience, only the title. When you hire your editor, you can at least vet them and determine what training they possess.
Jan. 4th, 2012 10:44 am (UTC)
Most of the books I've read that are "pro published" have errors or something that grates at me in them - like badly done dialog tags.

While you're self-published, the main reason why I consider your PsyCops series a comfort read is because the errors aren't there. Or if there is, it's so minimal per book that it's mostly non-existent. And may I just sidetrack to complement you on your use of dialog tags. All too often they detract from a story for me. The skillful way you do it is seamless and I'm never consciously aware of the tags, nor do I have to wonder who's speaking. It's that clear.

So, no. Just because a book is self-published, it doesn't mean the same thing as "unedited" at all. The opposite is also true: just because the book is published by a "pro publishing" site, that doesn't mean the editing is perfect or the overall product is a good one.
Jan. 4th, 2012 11:05 am (UTC)
Wow, that's a wonderfully specific compliment, thank you! Dialog tags really can pull me out of the story. There was a mainstream series I couldn't follow because the protagonist said something "tartly" three times in the first novel. My approach would be to have the words themselves be "tart" rather than tell the reader she said it "tartly."

It gets harder and harder for me to read for fun. I keep re-writing the other authors' sentences in my head.
Jan. 4th, 2012 11:20 am (UTC)
It gets harder and harder for me to read for fun. I keep re-writing the other authors' sentences in my head.

This is also my problem, which is why when I find an author who writes well, I'll go back and buy every book they have out as well as anything else they put out later sight unseen. Those are pretty rare, but I do find them occasionally. *cough*your books*cough* :)

Gosh, could I sound more creepy and stalkerish? Sorry. That's not how I meant it, but more along the lines of telling you how much I love to read and truly appreciate all the work that goes into a well written book.
Jan. 4th, 2012 11:25 am (UTC)
Gosh, could I sound more creepy and stalkerish?
Ha ha, are you kidding, I could listen to how much you enjoy my books all day! *hugs*
Jan. 16th, 2012 04:06 pm (UTC)
on editing, dialogue tags & "reversing the flow"
I remember Ghost Busters, where the big moment happens and they've got to reverse the flow to save the world and melt the marshmallow man. But I am so happy to read your note here on editing and tags because it is reversing the flow of my attention in a totally negative way, no sweet payoff - removing my attention utterly and falling out of the zone of a good read. When it happens once, it often happens a few more times along with typos, incorrect tense, or the worse: having to ask "Who's speaking now?" I'm grateful for authors that have high levels of craft and expectations for themselves and keep me in that wonderful escapist universe I paid to visit. Doesn't it seem as though there are fewer and fewer as more books become available?
Jan. 16th, 2012 06:20 pm (UTC)
Re: on editing, dialogue tags & "reversing the flow"
I think as long as shoddy craftsmanship is rewarded with sales, readers will continue to get more of it.

I just read an 850-page novel by Stephen King and didn't see a single error. I was also so captivated that I read it at the unheard of (for me, a slow reader) rate of 100 pages a day.

There are quality books out there.
Jan. 4th, 2012 11:06 am (UTC)
I've read books by big authors, that are published in those big places, that still have typos and errors. It annoys me. But there are obviously bits that will get by all sorts of eyes. Just have to accept it, but it just goes to show that self published or professionally published, it really doesn't matter. If errors want to be there, they will.
Jan. 4th, 2012 11:08 am (UTC)
I'm always so surprised when I see errors in big-published books. The last Stephanie Plum book had "shears" hanging over the windows!
Amanda Corlies
Jan. 4th, 2012 11:17 am (UTC)
I am actually on a rant this week about a book from Simon and Schuster. By page four, it had huge editing issues, as in a whole block of text that was obviously left out. The story jumped from talking about a male character to a different female character without any transition and without ever explaining the important information that was left out. I also found misspelled words, missing words, I'm talking big issues. By the fourth chapter, I was skimming, and I never finished the book. I'm taking it back for a refund. I don't pay for that kind of crap. So, I very much agree, poor editing is an issue across the board and should not be foisted on any one particular group of publishers.
Jan. 4th, 2012 11:27 am (UTC)
Wow, that's really shocking! I'm appalled. It makes you wonder if the wrong file got put into production and no one noticed.
Jan. 4th, 2012 01:24 pm (UTC)
I don't think edited books necessarily are better than the self-published ones. I've read a lot of self-published books this year and though some of them were absolutely horrid, there were lots of gems in there too.

I don't get too hung up on typos . If the story is good and the language flows effortlessly, I'm usually satisfied. I read a book this weekend where the author obviously had changed her mind about the sex of a couple of the minor characters. He became she and the other way around....Didn't stop me from finishing because the book was really good.

My mom on the other hand has a notebook where she keeps track of all the typos in any given book. And she calls the publisher and complains....
Jan. 4th, 2012 02:25 pm (UTC)
Self-published books should still be edited. I have a feeling you're agreeing with me but I just want to be totally clear about what I'm trying to convey :-). It's too bad that enough self-published authors have skipped that step to make "self-published" and "unedited" synonymous in most people's minds. That's like saying all cars are silver just because you've seen a boatload of silver cars.

That's so funny about your mom! A nonfic author in one of my groups had Amazon contact them about a typo in their book (it was something along the lines of "the ywent" where the space landed in the wrong spot) and told them to check the quality of their work! Maybe your mom had been reading it and called them ;-)
Jan. 4th, 2012 04:53 pm (UTC)
Oh. I get it. I have bought and read a few books that should never have been published, not just because the language was bad but because the stories leaked like sieves. If they had had some kind of editing (or if the writer had had some skill to begin with) they might have been so much better.

*Giggles* Yes, that could have been my mom. She even returned a book once, directly to the author no less. She underlined all the mistakes in yellow marker.

She used to do it with the newspaper too, but she had to give it up. There's just too many mistakes since the machines took over. Plus Norwegians doesn't seem to know their own language anymore. I mean, when the journalists can't spell, then what?
Jan. 4th, 2012 09:40 pm (UTC)
Newspaper errors are funniest to me in headlines and ads--probably because it seems like those are the places you would think would get proofread the closest.
Jan. 4th, 2012 02:23 pm (UTC)
How does one find a good content editor? Especially one friendly to m/m/erotica? What kind of credentials does one want? How much can one expect to lay out?

I have these kinds of questions, and have them for covers as well (though editors are the bigger question, since I've met cover artists via my web travels).

Hmm. Not expecting you should answer all of my questions here, but has anyone written a manual on this -- maybe you should? :)))

I bought Josh's writing book when it came out, but he doesn't cover self-publishing.
Jan. 4th, 2012 02:35 pm (UTC)
If I were looking for a new content editor, I'd try a few different things. I'd put feelers out in FB, Goodreads or here to see if I already knew any who were looking for work, and I'd ask them for a rate sheet and for credentials. As to what credentials, I'd want to know who they worked for before and maybe get a reference. I'd see how promptly they responded to my query for a rate sheet, because if they can't return that promptly, heaven only knows how long they'll sit on my mss.

I'm unsure what the "going rate" is, which I why I ask the editors what they charge. If it's someone so new they don't have a set fee, I say, "I pay this," and they can negotiate with me.

I also suspect readers who write particularly thoughtful reviews, who really notice the themes, can be groomed to a content editor for a confident and experienced writer. Or at least a sort of very helpful beta reader.

Jim and Zetta offer both erotic romance-friendly content editing and book production services: http://www.jimandzetta.com, and Zetta will do a sample edit to start so you have some idea what you'll be getting.

Jan. 8th, 2012 12:59 am (UTC)
Jordan, I just realized that I never thanked you for this. I read it on my iphone, then spaced getting back to you.

Jan. 4th, 2012 03:28 pm (UTC)
I've had several conversations about editing with self pubbed authors lately. I've been told "No I don't use an editor because:

a] they might steal my work and publish it themselves.
b] every word I write is important, carefully selected and placed just so; it's perfect as it is
c] I don't make mistakes
d] I use Grammarly.com - it's good enough for romance
e] people don't mind mistakes if the sex is hot enough.

On the other hand I read self pubbed authors whose work is absolutely meticulously edited and presented, yourself for instance. I think it's terribly sad that the ones who don't bother out of naiveté, arrogance or ignorance are the ones that get the most press.
Jan. 4th, 2012 04:14 pm (UTC)
My initial response was kind of a spit-take...but then my browser wouldn't load and I decided I should try to be empathetic.

I guess I can see why someone might be afraid of plagiarism, given that I experienced some pretty nasty plagiarism myself a few years ago. But that doesn't mean you don't get your work edited. It means you find someone you can trust to edit it.

Anne Rice used to say that thing about not wanting anyone to monkey with the placement of her words...and in a way, I get that too. I craft my sentences very carefully. But, guess what? I also drop words a lot, repeat words a lot, or think that I've conveyed something that I never actually wrote down.

I've never heard of Grammarly.com - now I need to go look at it.

I soothe myself by thinking that people who half-ass things and call it "good enough" (for anything, not just romance) will eventually fall to the wayside via natural selection. The hard thing is, I can't know if someone is presenting something poorly because it's the best they can do, or they're lazy, or they're sloppy, or maybe it was actually much much worse before they polished it, unless they actually tell me, "Yeah, I just wrote whatever and slapped it together, and it's good enough." And I've never had anyone admit that to me that I can recall.
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