My Writing Journey

The Importance Of Being Edited

Editing can be a minefield, can’t it?

I wasn’t sure whether to write this post, initially, but after recent experiences, I thought, why not air my views, after all, they are only my thoughts, and not law, after all!

Over the last few years, as I have been, (and continue to), hone my writing craft, I have learned so much about writing, and how words can be written and how that impacts upon how readers interpret them.

It means that when I read books, sometimes the pleasure is not as great as it used to be, as I find my technical head switching on, finding errors, or picking up on rookie mistakes.

Don’t get me wrong, I am no expert, by any means, and I fully live by the thought that there are so many rules to writing a ‘good book’, yet if we all wrote by these rules, books would all be uniform, and boring.

(Who wrote these rules, anyway?)

However, good writing doesn’t have to follow the rules, but it must capture the reader.

I am one of those readers who hates to ‘DNF’ a book or mark it as something I did not finish. I know the blood sweat and toil that goes into crafting a book baby, having done it myself, so if I choose to read something, I try my hardest to give it my best shot, even if I am struggling. But now, I have realised that I need to stop if something is not clicking with me.

Sometimes it is just a genre that is not for me.

Fair enough.

I try and give everything a fair shot, but if the genre is not for me, then I’ll not complain or give a bad review of the book. I’ll just park in under my DNF pile and remember not to pick something like that again.

But, when it comes to genres I love, if I can’t engage with the characters, or follow the story smoothly, I tend to delve deeper into the whys of not being able to finish.

And almost 100% of the time it seems to be due to editing – or lack of.

Several indie authors who requested I read their books for feedback or a general review have admitted, after I ask, that they haven’t had an editor read their work.

Not even a set of experienced beta readers.

And, unfortunately, it shows.

Thankfully, most of the time, my feedback is appreciated, after all, I would never shoot another writer down, but I want them to give the best of themselves to the world of books, but sometimes, the defiance and insistence that they write and edit themselves, because they know it is good, means that I wish I hadn’t wasted my time trying to help!

I understand that editing can be an expensive business, but what authors-to-be should remember is that we are too close to our work to edit it, entirely, ourselves.

Maybe, once you have a few books under your belt, and you’ve had helpful feedback from others on your previous work, you are more able to objectively read, spot mistakes or inconsistencies, and change them.

But as a newbie, when you want to make your name in the world of books, you need to present the best writing possible.

As I said, it can be expensive, but there are ways you can get help without spending the earth.

  • Find a couple of readers, trusted readers that aren’t necessarily friends, but people with knowledge of wordcraft, and ask if they will read your work. Think of them as your alpha readers. They are going to give you that first impression of what a reader thinks of your story and writing. It is amazing how many thoughts, questions and mistakes they can pick up, that can improve your initial work before you have even thought about an editor.
  • Find a critique partner who you can send your work to, and whose work you are willing to read and comment upon, too. This can be a better way, as you send work as you are writing, and you could incorporate corrections or suggestions for improvements as you write.
  • Become a member of a writing group, where you can share your writing with others, and gain valuable critiques. As you read others work, you will also become stronger at picking up weak spots or strong sections in your own work.

And something extremely important to remember, however keen your friends, or family are, to read and help you with your book, they may not be the most objective readers for constuctive feedback. Most will be so encouraging, because they are proud you wrote a book.

Some might not know how to say they found parts hard to read or follow, so give you a false sense of security, but you need to remember that it is the public you want to impress with your words, not just your friends and family, if you want to be a succesful author.

This is why finding your writing people is so important, especially for an indie author.

I would still recommend you find at least a developmental editor, who will give you valuable feedback on your story, and whether everything flows, or if there are holes in your plot.

Beta readers can be your proofreading eyes if they are eagle-eyed. They can spot inconsistencies, spelling mistakes and pick up unclear points, too, when you are nearing the end of editing your manuscript if you can’t afford a copy or proofread.

If you don’t know the best way to find an editor, I would recommend asking among writing groups, like on Facebook, or even on your blog. Research them, yourselves, too, as prices can vary greatly, depending on what you want from the editor.

But the most important thing to remember is that as the author of a piece of work, we are too close to our book baby to be objective, especially at the beginning of our writing career. Either you will feel that nothing you write is good, or you won’t be able to sort the chaff from the wheat. Everything you write will appear key to the story. Or you miss things out because you have been living the story, with the characters for so long, you may omit details that a reader needs to know because, in your head, you already know it.

This is why a fresh set of eyes is so important, be it a paid editor, or a fantastic group of readers. They don’t know the backstory of your characters. They can tell you whether something is unnecessary, or if they felt something was missing. They can explain if something you wrote didn’t make sense, or whether they enjoyed it.

Then you take that feedback and use it, objectively, to improve your writing, and give your book baby the best chance of success.

There ends the sermon on The Importance Of Being Edited by Pastor Ritu!

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41 thoughts on “The Importance Of Being Edited”

  1. You are preaching to the choir, Pastor Ritu. I don’t consider myself a writing expert by any means, but it’s obvious that many Indie books don’t get the editing that they should. A book comes across as unprofessional when these glaring errors jump off the page.

    Fresh eyes pick up on things that we miss. All of your suggestions are great.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Pete. It astounds me, now, having been through the process, and seeing how much better my work is, after the magic of a good editor’s eye, how many folk just don’t understand how important it is!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I agree 100% with you, Ritu. Charli Mills developmentally edited While the Bombs Fell for me and, as a result of her amazing advice, I developed a timeline with my mom’s life and overlaid the history over her timeline. I also reversed the order of the entire book and learned a lot about some basic mistakes I used to make [not so much anymore as I watch for them]. I had to remove 452 very’s from that first draft. Esther Chilton developmentally edited and proof read Through the Nethergate and really helped me improve the story. Esther also helped me with A Ghost and His Gold. She developmentally edited it twice. The first time she gave me marvelous ideas which turned a short novella of 15 000 words into a 115 000 word novel and the second time, she also had terrific ideas and I made a lot of changes as a result. My rewrites take at least three to four months after the receipt of the advice and that indicates how much re-writing I do. I have finished proofing the first typeset version of A Ghost and His Gold and sent it back to my publisher. When I get the next proof, I will give it to a few people to have a final read before we hit publish. I am pretty happy with it now. The great thing about the developmental editing is that your learn from each round and incorporate the learning into your new books. I’ve found with Esther’s more recent feedback that it has changed to more granular advice which results in improvements but not a whole restructuring. I view this as progress.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I totally agree with you Ritu. I have on more than one occasion read an indie author’s book, and my heart has sunk even whilst reading the first page, because of typos, repetition, and pedestrian sentence construction. But I have persisted because of a sense of solidarity with the author (many other readers wouldn’t) and interestingly I have often found the book improves later on, especially on the editing front too. Then if the story is good, it takes over. I have a few times been in the position of choosing to give a more generous star rating than the quality of the editing warrants, for the sake of a good and deeply felt story. It is curious that the first two pages often seem to be the worst. This is a real problem – for they are the pages that need to be the sharpest.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I try very hard to persevere, Sheila. It’s only recently that I’ve begun to stop a book, after giving it a good chance, because I find it hard to read.
      There are some, as you say, that have a story that makes it worthwhile. Some, though end up so all over the place, it makes my head hurt!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You are correct. Finding a good editor is imperative.

    Finding a good editor at a price I can afford is nearly impossible. I’ve been able to rely on a family resource some of the time, but she hates editing. The editor I presently have is in another country and she is having major problems with her internet and WiFi there. It is so frustrating to have 18 books ready for editing and not be able to get it done.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. As a pensioner, I can’t afford an editor.
    Our writing group is something of a mutual admiration society (and I am their proofreader and copyeditor) but, as a newbie, I have found online writing groups helpful. Sometimes they too can feel like a mutual admiration society, but an occasional critique will pick up something you hadn’t been aware of. The other thing I do when sending a submission to a competition or online magazine is to ask for a critique when one is offered. These are worth the extra payment as the advice you are given is sure to translate to your other work.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Absolutely, Cathy. I agree that sometimes an editor can be too much of an expense for some. I saved and budgeted for mine.
      This is why I suggested the other options, which can be free, but productive, too! Mutual appreciation is good, but yes, you need a reality check too!!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This. After going through my manuscript like six times, I thought that I pretty much ironed out every kink of my story. Then an editor went through my work (thankfully I got traditionally published so that means I automatically work with one) and found SO MANY things that I’ve missed. I know it can be pricey, but having an extra, TRAINED, set of eyes really does help.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is awesomely practical and easy to follow advice – so glad you decided to write it out, Ritu!

    And yes, it can be so frustrating when someone asks for feedback, then argues with your suggestions. Back a million years ago, I belonged to an author’s site (Authonomy) and we were forever reading each other’s chapters, offering critiques, and such. I remember one person who asked for such an exchange telling me at the start, “I haven’t had it edited because I don’t want to waste anyone’s time, since I already know I’m not making any substantial changes. Just please let me know if you spot any typos.”

    Ugh.

    I did as they asked, and also tried to gently suggest they reconsider their stance on editing, but they were resolute. I also recall after they self-published, they blamed their niche topic for the lack of sales… and even if they didn’t listen to me (and countless others with the same advice) at least I learned the valuable lesson of how important editing can be.

    Thanks for sharing this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is the most important part of publishing (after writing the book, of course!)

      I’m always happy to give feedback, I always want it to be constructive, otherwise, why ask?

      But, typos? Are you a spell check? So awful!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Ritu – I’m so glad I saved this post to read when I had the chance. You put this so well. I have not reached that point, but I am getting closer. I am thinking about joining a writers group and if I ever want to try to publish something, I will surely get an editor to look things over and alpha and beta readers too. I’m glad to see it explained by you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad my words help.
      I’m no expert, but I do believe in honesty, and if something isn’t readable, and it’s meant to be a book to READ, that’s got to be something to sort out, hasn’t it?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I do agree. I remember when I helped my father self-publish. We read through it at least ten times, then I got my adult son to read it and he caught things we didn’t. We didn’t hire an outside editor but I think it would have made the book more polished if we had.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s sometimes just that extra sheen that makes our writing a cut above.
        But it is tough when some newbies won’t even consider it… I mean, even bestselling, successful authors rely on their editors too!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I totally agree with you about the importance of editing. My stance is, if I want to compete with traditionally published authors I’ve got to have the same standards. Editing for an indie author can be a significant expense, but in my view, it’s an essential part of the process.

    Liked by 1 person

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