November 4, 2013
Why Do I Need A Copy Editor?
The online bookstores are overflowing. Bowker Identification Services estimates there will be more than 300,000 new books published in 2013. Along with all of that new reading material comes a significant increase in the number of complaints from reviewers citing mistakes in those books, and most of the criticism is aimed at self-published authors.
I don’t blame the reviewers. I have to admit, it bothers me to find errors in grammar, typos, and misspelled and misused words. Most Indie authors operate on shoestring budgets, and when they get to the end of the line they find there’s no money left for a copy editor. At that point many authors decide to skip that step in the process. I’m baffled by this. They wouldn’t put the book up without a cover. Why cut out the copy editor?
Some writers think they don’t need a copy editor, but here’s what a good one will do for you.
A Good Copy Editor Will…
- Teach you that phrases like “damn near” are to be used sparingly, and that you have already used your allocation.
- Drop a subtle hint that three of your characters already say “Ya’ll,” and adding a fourth would be pushing it.
- Remind you that “smiled” is not a dialogue tag, and neither is grinned, chuckled, sighed or proffered.
- Adamantly refuse to allow one more character whose name starts with the letter “B.”
- Question your decision to have the antagonist draw his .45 caliber Glock in chapter twenty-five, especially since he had a Colt in chapter six.
- Share a link to a thesaurus where you might find alternatives to “stare.”
- Send you a text reminding you that your female lead has giggled 13 times so far, and it’s only chapter 12.
- Correct your horrendous abuse of semicolons; even though you insist; you know how to use them.
- Chastise you for capitalizing words you shouldn’t and leaving poor old “mom” lowercase, even when addressing her.
- Threaten to quit working on the project; unless you take a class on semicolons.
- Fix your compound-adjective-mistakes without mentioning them.
- Quietly delete all of your exclamation points.
- Warn you she will quit; if you ever use a semicolon again!!!!
I got carried away with the sarcasm in this article, but it was all to make a point. A good copy editor makes a difference. They’re able to take a book that is good and turn it into a book that is great. I don’t know of anyone who can sit down and write a story that doesn’t need editing. So suck it up, put on your thick skin, and turn that manuscript over to someone who can help you. When you get your manuscript back—and once you get over the shock of seeing your baby all marked up and bleeding—then you can get to work and fix it.
If you’re a self-published author, you are running a business. As a business person you have a lot of decisions to make, including budgeting and resource allocation. The decisions rest with you, but if it were me, I’d find some way—any way—to hire a good copy editor. They are far too valuable to ignore.
Ciao, and thanks for stopping by,
He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 45 loving “friends.”