A short (for me) follow-up post on self-publishing and editing.
On the last post I gave out some proofing tips for those of you who are silly enough to think you can manage to proofread and/or edit your own work.
There is a difference between good editing and proof-reading.
Let me add some context from a journalistic point of view.
When I worked on newspapers, using both tripewriters and computers, our stories went through a lot of people.
You write a story, you check it for errors. You then send it to a news editor or chief reporter and they publicly slag you off in front of everyone if you have got something wrong. This is one reason why journalists are thick-skinned. It is mortifying, I tell you. Because everyone stops to listen, even the ones who are on the phone.
Next they send it to a subeditor. And maybe the chief subeditor. So they all go through it too while they are creating a title and deciding on layout. One of those might slag you off too. Maybe the editor looks at something and walks out and gives you a blasting.
Then it goes to the compositors (comps) who set up the pages for printing. They do their bit and then we get galley proofs for further checking.
Now back when I started, we had demarcation. Comps would not change the copy. (Copy means text in journalese). They were not writers, they were compositors. They would check for errors according to what they had been given.
But you also have subs working on the stone who double-check the proofs, and that’s for sense and anything that might have been missed in all the earlier checks. I used to love going on the stone, I thought it was really exciting. Just nearly ready for everything to roll. Plus comps were always really nice men. They were all men back then.
So, proofreading (proofing) is basically checking for spelling, punctuation, that is incorrect. Editing implies a lot more. Editing can change what’s been written.
Doesn’t matter whether you are talking about novels or newspapers.
So back to self-publishing. Or any publishing. An author needs a good editor, but equally as important, an author and an editor need to establish a good relationship.
An author needs to be like the journalists I’ve quoted above. They need to accept the editor might ask difficult questions or criticise their writing/spelling/grammar/whatever. They need to have confidence in their editor and not feel that they are being picked on. Your editor needs to be able to challenge what you have written, without either of you having a problem with that. Better for an editor to query your work than people to be disappointed after publication.
The editor should not impose their view or their style on the author. It is the editor’s job to basically clean up the copy, check out what the author has missed including factual errors, retain the author’s style, understand what the author is trying to achieve with their work, and then proof it, proof it, and proof it to high heaven. And then proof it again.
How do you find a good editor?
A story from a blogging ‘friend’ (?) who knows? the other day, is an interesting example. Someone had been recommended, so s/he went to look at their website. Apparently it had errors on the opening page. S/he thought that was an interesting marketing technique and commented on it. It wasn’t. They’d just made errors.
So recommendation doesn’t always work.
Me, I offer to look at a few pages for free. If I can’t find any errors there (and even if I do), then I’ll ask for a few more pages. Or if people send me free copies of ebooks I’ll read them and then say how good/bad the editing is.
Self-publishing isn’t easy. Neither is editing when you don’t know what you are doing. Writing, proofreading, editing are very different. Few people can do all of them at once.
If you want to use an independent editor, much as I hate doing anything for free, I actually think it is reasonable to provide an example of what I do. You also might want to ask what relevant qualifications and experience editors have. When I can be bothered, I’ll add a CV page at the top, so you can have an idea of what to look for.
So, onto today’s book which I finished last weekend.
Almost Dead in Suburbia by Douglas Pearce
I don’t know where to start with this!
The story takes us through – suburbia, obviously – and adds police investigation, some unfinished personal business from the past, and then big bucks computery business. Totally surprised me.
That’s enough about the story as I don’t want to include spoilers.
Why was it good? Well, I fell in love with the talking cat, Hendricks, of course. Animals always make more sense than people do.
I liked the fact that a lot of characters got equal airplay. There were quite a few key characters, well drawn out, and the secondary ones were good too. It’s pragmatic and honest. Even if it is humorous.
I had no idea what was coming, which is always good and makes for an interesting read. I certainly couldn’t have solved the riddle in there. Luckily it was explained in an author’s footnote. Thank goodness, I would have burned up with curiosity otherwise. Curiosity killed the cat? Fortunately not Hendricks.
While I read it over a couple of days (it’s a shorter read but I had other things to do too sadly), I just had to stay up on the last night – well past my bedtime – to find out the end. It’s described as satire. I’d describe it as a good read. Enjoyable, intriguing, and recommended.
His blog is here (a decent read with two gorgeous dogs) and you can find info about Almost Dead on his sidebar.
Note, as before, Almost Dead was sent to me as a free PDF, and I don’t work for Douglas.
When I wasn’t reading Almost Dead, I was admiring my lettuces.
And cooking bean slop.
Spot the deliberate error/s?