January 31, 2013
I have been out of town attending a funeral and didn’t have time to write a post this week, so I thought I’d repeat one I did a guest post on. This is more for writers. I hope you enjoy.
I Don’t Have to Use Any Stinking Copy Editors.
There has been a lot of talk about Indie Authors lately, particularly about the mistakes found in Indie books. I have to admit, it bothers me as a reader to find errors in grammar, typos, and misspelled and misused words.
I asked quite a few authors who they used for their editing, and many of them said they did their own editing, or had friends look it over. The general consensus was that copy editing was expensive, and these authors felt they could get by without it.
This got me to thinking about all the money I could save if I cut out my copy editor. After all, what exactly does a copy editor do? I decided to make a list so that I could balance the need versus the cost. Here’s what I came up with.
What a good copy editor will do for you:
- Tell you that you used “damn near” too damn many times.
- Remind you that you have three characters that use the phrase “Morning, Darlin'” repeatedly.
- Advise you that “grinned,” is not a dialogue tag, and neither is “smile, sighed, laughed, snarled, or offered.”
- Suggest that you choose a name other than Mollie because four of your characters have names starting with the letter “M.”
- Ask you politely if you meant for your detective to be carrying a Beretta…because in chapter four he was using a Smith & Wesson.
- Direct you to a thesaurus, where you can find alternate ways to say “stare.”
- Make a note that your protag has “smiled” 67 times. So far. And this is only chapter 17.
- Fix your atrocious misuse of semicolons; even though you insist you know how to use them.
- Remind you that “Dad” should be capitalized when your character is addressing “dad” in dialogue; also remind you that “captain, lieutenant, and sergeant” are all capitalized when addressed in dialogue.
- Suggest you quit using semicolons; until you learn how to use them.
- Tell you that you capitalized “Goddamn” in chapter six and did not capitalize “goddamn” in chapter 21. Goddamnit.
- Point out that you have use “goddamn,” 89 times in the first half of the book.
- A good-copy-editor will fix all the mistakes with your compound-adjectives.
- Caution you that exclamation points are to be used sparingly!!!
- Provide final warning that if you use semicolons again, she will quit as your copy editor.
We self-published authors have to make a lot of decisions, like which projects to do ourselves and which ones to sub-contract. It’s your decision, but if it were me, I’d hire a copy editor. A good one.
I know those differences I cited don’t seem like much, but for me, as a reader, it would be the difference between putting that book down or finishing it, and perhaps more importantly, between never reading that author again and picking up every book that author writes.
It takes a long time to write a book, polish it, and get it ready for publication. Why ruin that work by trying to save a few bucks on copy editing? Do yourself, and your readers, a favor. If you don’t know a good editor, get recommendations from people you trust. And once you find a good one, do what’s necessary to get that book in shape. Sell your soul if you have to, but don’t try doing it yourself.
I wrote this post for the rest of you writers. I don’t need a copy editor, because I intend to keep mine.
Ciao, and thanks for listening,