I have always been an avid reader, and since beginning this blog, I think I am more so than ever!
I have read a variety of new books and genres from authors over a wide spectrum of backgrounds… new, up-and-coming authors and established ones alike. From my newfound experience I want to share some advice with you, my dear author. Inevitably, I think a lot of my advice is not going to be relevant to J.K Rowling’s and Stephen King’s, to name but two examples, as they have the best backing behind their writing. I daresay many experts in the literary industry would bite their own arm off for the chance to work with these legends, but unfortunately, we can’t all have the same support and success… at least not right away!
If you are newly published, or about to publish and ever want the chance to reach the highbrow heights of literary success, I ask politely if you could at least entertain my thoughts on an argument that keeps cropping up in my mind.
Lately I have read a number of books that have entered the market either through self publishing or small, independent publishers. Now I am aware that this is a huge market and that is why I wanted to share this post, because I hope it makes you re-think your options if you are about to do what I consider to be the greatest sin in publishing…
Maybe you have a degree in English Language or Literature. That’s great.. Congratulations! You have set yourself up as best you can to write a book. The bad news is, you still shouldn’t rely solely on editing your own work. Yes, it costs money to pay someone to look at it for you, but if you really are serious about getting your book out there, it should be worth every penny. Consider it an investment – it will pay you dividends (or royalties) in time.
“But there are many authors out there that self-publish?” I hear you say.
Yes, there are, and there are many that do well from it. I don’t dispute that, but I really think you will be putting your best foot forward by getting a professional to edit your work.
As an author, you can never be fully qualified to edit your own book simply because you are not (and never will be) impartial. You can put the book away for a couple of years and distance yourself from it, sure, but you will always read what you are TRYING to say as opposed to what is ACTUALLY on the page. A book is best reviewed by somebody that has no connection to it whatsoever.
I offer this advice for one reason only – if a book hasn’t been edited properly, 99% of the time, a reader can tell. I can tell. Be it a loophole or inconsistency, I have come across so many spelling mistakes, repeated phrases and even continuity issues. If the text doesn’t flow, it breaks the reader’s concentration and that could make them put the book down – for good!
To give an example, in a recent reading experience, a character’s actions in relation to time were unrealistic. School bells were ringing left, right and centre (when the text clearly says they are fifty minutes apart), but the character’s actions barely filled five minutes between each bell. I understand you want to move the text on to where the action happens, but there would have been so many ways to achieve this without trying to brush off the whole thing hurriedly. I DNF’d that book for that reason. I’m sure the last thing an author wants is for a reader to put their book down prematurely and never pick it up again.
A second and more recent example is of a main character who’s age and states of dress changed within a matter of paragraphs. To explain, he was drinking such a cheap wine that it burns holes in his clothes if he spills it, but this doesn’t always happen in the narrative even though you know it should. Later on, there was an occasion on which he was supposed to be undressed, but then he suddenly had a robe on out of nowhere – it’s the little errors like these that can add up and put someone off continuing.
Lastly, the thing that takes the cake with this book for me was the following description:-
…taller birch trees that loomed over the living forest with disdainful indifference.
Please, just think about it.
I don’t want anyone to take any of the above points to heart… this is not an exercise in slander. I understand your work is precious to you. I make these points for constructive purposes only.
If your work is that important, would you not take that extra step to make it the best it can be? If you want to be taken seriously as an author, I really think you should.