When the past year closed, I spent a while going over the reviews I had written, the books I had read and so on. While doing this, I realized that there was a single reason behind the vast majority of my two-star ratings – and that reason is editing.
I can only guess the reasons why some self-published authors, or authors launching their own small publishing houses, would choose to skip such an important step. I admit, I wasn’t aware of the importance of editors until I started to read some unedited manuscripts... but if someone is seriously considering their writing career, they must have surely reached that same conclusion.
So, why are there so many books unedited?
I think there are two main answers: Money, and a deeply entrenched belief that we can do it ourselves.
I’ve been working in the publishing industry now for a couple of years, and I have found out the hard truth: no, we can’t do it all ourselves. Some authors are better at revising and rewriting than others, but the fact remains that they (we) are too closely involved with the story to find its faults.
It’s like realizing that our son is ugly – nearly impossible.
Critique partners, beta readers, friends... They are all helpful when it comes to tackle the manuscript and turn it into publishable work, but that’s a double-edged weapon: they can only edit and comment from their own level of mastery. If they are not writers themselves, if they don’t keep a close eye on the market, their advice might make your book better – but not good enough.
And that’s leaving aside the fact that they might care about you too much to be as harsh as your manuscript needs, or that you might have told them so much about the story that they are “contaminated” and fail to see the holes that a fresh reader would.
Please, don’t misunderstand: a partner in crime, a beta, a friendly input and a jug of coffee when we’re about to give up... that’s invaluable. But I firmly believe that, before putting our baby out for the world to see, enjoy and critique, it needs to go through an external source. Else, the result might be the dreaded two-star (or worse yet, one). Even if the author’s good at self-editing, skipping the professional might knock a star from the otherwise brilliant rating.
I know I’ve done it, as a reviewer, and it’s hurt me to do so. And that’s the reason I’m writing this post – to help. Let me explain how:
I am a reviewer here, but in my day job I am a freelance professional reader, book hunter and translator. What does that mean?
It means that I work for the publishing industry. That I keep an eye out on new books coming out, find the new trends, and then suggest to the publishing houses I work with that they acquire the rights for translation. When a book reaches the publishing house through other channels, they’ll send it to me, so that I can evaluate its potential and advice them on whether to push for it or let it go. And when the decision is made, I translate the books – and work with an editor of my own, by the way, even though the hard work of making a book solid is already done.
What I’m offering to do is exactly the same thing I do for a living. Everyone can afford a book report, and no book should have to face the market untouched by eyes other than its author. It’s only fair for the readers.
I want authors to understand that they need editing, and why they do, and I want them to have an option if they can’t afford the more standard editing fees. Of course, if you can afford something more in-depth, I would tell you make that investment.
Please, be sure to read through my new page on editing services and to check out what I’m now able to offer before making a decision you, your book, and your reputation as a writer might regret later.