Monday, April 23, 2012

Write-edit-write-and keep moving forward:

Do you really want your readers to be your editors?

Well, yes.  At least that's what I had in mind when I asked a few of them to read my book while it was in development.

I felt the lack of takers on that offer was a poor reflection on my ability to write.  The trauma of rejection gave me writer's block for about a half second pause.

So, one problem with self publishing may be the perception that I'm still asking those people to edit my work while also asking some to pay for it.  Heh, Heh Heh, and in a way I am.  But, that's only a reflection on the system of self publishing.

Some things to remember:
You shall do extensive spell checking and grammar checking and sentence structure checking. You shall find someone else to go over your work, doing the same things you just did Then you shall sit down together and do substantive editing (also known as developmental editing and comprehensive editing). This is a much more in depth look at structure, continuity, and character building. Perhaps cutting the fat.  Keep in mind that old saying.  "Don't throw the baby away with the bath water."

This is also a bit backwards but trust me you need to get some of the little stuff out of your way before delving into rearranging your thoughts to be readable by most readers.

This can never hurt you if you plan to go the conventional route and get an agent or a publisher to notice you. This is critical if you plan to self publish.  That is mostly for the sake of your reader.

The reader will most likely still find a way to express their opinion of the errors they do find.  And they will find them.  You should nod and smile and write notes.  Remember, this is the unsolicited edit you forced on them.

When you publish you should try to buy a self publish package that contains a copy-edit.  This will be a final look at grammar and spelling at the very least. There may be some attempt to help with sentence structure. Usually what you get though is the low end description of copy-edit and something better than proof reading.

We did our best to cover the substantive end in my first book, but I had a poor grasp of the whole process and may have contributed to a failure mode.   The up side is that this gives the rawest form of the writers work and might ring more true than a polished piece.

If you are like me you may feel compelled to go the extra mile and have someone new look at what you now think is the next best thing to sliced bread. It's probably not totally critical and it is costly unless you have an abundant number of volunteers with English degrees. But, if you think you didn't miss anything, as a friend once said, you are delusional.

Keep in mind, when you have someone else do the copy-edit, that you should read the manuscript all the way through while verifying the work accomplished.  Most editors will send you back a document file with notes and tags on the changes.  I found though that some changes were made that did not have tags and were critical because the change altered the meaning of the sentence.  This sounds bad, and it is.  But in most cases it caused me to rethink my wording, since it must have really confused them for them to make it say what I did not mean.

You can possibly try to get substantive editing from an on demand publisher if you ask.  The problem will be that substantive editors are expensive, in terms of the cost of self publishing.  My document had over 400 pages and 260000 words.  In page count they charge by the hour at a rate of 50 to 60 (low estimate) us dollars per hour. That's at anywhere from 1-6 pages per hour. Word count is 2 to 4 cents a word.  These are on the conservative end of the estimates.  For my first book it would cost anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 dollars for a good substantive edit.

The good news is that if you are buying a package including copy-editing and they do a good job.  You will be getting a value on this book of about 3,000 to 5,000 dollars. And unless you are a copy-editor you will need another set of eyes to look at this. And if you are a copy-editor you will have it done anyway because you know you will need it.

The final goal is to not burden the reader with someone else job.  If they don't enjoy reading the book then you failed.

And, yes.
 If you didn't enjoy it please let me know.

I subscribe to the no news is good news. And after 250 downloads and no comments I'll just assume everything is dandy and keep on keeping on.

J.L. Dobias Author of Cripple-Mode: Hot Electric

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