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On NOT Hiring an Editor (Interview)

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Philip Overby, Sep 26, 2013.

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  1. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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  2. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

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    Is this actually real? It sounds very carefully set up, so if it is real, the author seems to have picked someone to interview that suits their agenda in presenting not professionally editing as amateurish and the sign of a bad writer. I'd like to see something from a writer who does actually care about their craft, but still doesn't professionally edit. That'd be an interesting perspective.
     
  3. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I'm not sure if it's real or not. Sadly enough, I think it might be. I think the point being made was that people who care about what they put out there, get some kind of editing done. They certainly wouldn't just throw something out there with tons of typos and other kinds of errors. I've heard of some authors publishing what were basically first drafts, but they had editors with their publishing house that helped them. I'd be interested to hear about a writer that never used any kind of professional editing (whether by hiring one or using their publsher's editor) and still turned out fine. The only people I could see this being applicable to are writers who also happen to be professional editors.
     
  4. tlbodine

    tlbodine Troubadour

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    Wow, that was probably the most combative interview I've ever read. It's pretty obvious that the blogger has an ax to grind.

    I haven't used any professional editing for either of my books. I've sent them to my brother (a book critic and writer himself) and beta readers, but I do my own editing. Any errors that have come to my attention in my books have been formatting problems, not editing problems -- things like irregular spacing or lost italics that occurred while trying to reformat my books from manuscript form to ebook form (or print book form...urgh.)

    Honestly, if I had the money to spare, I'd much rather spend it on professional formatting than professional editing.

    Just my two cents.
     
  5. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

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    Combatitive, that's a very accurate word. Yes, it seems like the blogger was using the interviewee to make a point rather than looking for balance in a debate, which is why I'd like to see that side of things from a different successful author.

    Tlbodine, would you mind answering a few questions? If so, how have you found your stories receieved? Have any readers mentioned they thought it wasn't professionally edited? Conversely, have any praised the editing? Do you feel you have enough different perspectives with your brother and beta readers to do a good job? Finally, if you had sufficient spare cash to both professionally format and edit, would you consider paying for editing or would you keep the money for something else?
     
  6. Nihal

    Nihal Vala

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    I can't see the benefits of reading an article crafted with such a puerile attitude. There are better ways to express your thoughts on the subject without luring someone to an interview and, as the others already said, use–literally use–him/her to make a point.

    That's one blog I wouldn't follow.


    On a side note, like Chilari I would like to read about a serious writer who doesn't edit his/her work.
     
    Zero Angel likes this.
  7. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I don't know, I thought it was funny in a weird way. :eek: Not like "haha" funny, but like "Wow, what a bizarre interview."

    I'm on both sides of the debate really, just wanted to see what others thought. It does seem like the interviewer is trying to bait someone to make a point, but the interviewee keeps saying things like "I don't have time to do that." It just seems weird to say you don't have time to edit. I don't necessarily think every single person needs a professional editor, but at least taking the time to edit your work before putting it out there seems like a pretty important step.

    On one hand, I don't think this is a real interview. If it is, the interviewee should have stopped it right at the beginning.

    The closest I know to a serious writer that doesn't edit, as far as I know, is Mark Lawrence. I've heard he just writes one draft. Not sure if editors go over it before it's in print, but I read on his blog that he does that.
     
  8. GeekDavid

    GeekDavid Auror

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    While I can see not hiring a professional editor (and I stress the word professional) due to the cost, I've read enough unedited dreck that actually got published -- and struggled through it because I needed to in order to accurately review it (for examples, see here and here) -- to be convinced that an editor of some sort (brother, friend, coworker) is essential.

    As I've mentioned elsewhere, I am going to draft a (so far) willing volunteer who's a friend to edit Librarian. Since he's the kind of guy who'll forward work emails to me with lists of complaints about grammatical errors in them, I think he'll do a good job. :)
     
  9. Nihal

    Nihal Vala

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    Phill, I can't even find it funny. Being fake, it's a highly ineffective and probably spiteful way to express a point. The people who agree with editing will still agree with editing, the ones who doesn't might feel offended by the setup and just dismiss this blogger's opinion. It's hard to not think "Are you angry because the X author is bad and still more successful than you?". Extremely hard.

    And, if it's a true interview, a possibility I don't promptly dismiss at all after many people I've met... It almost makes me wish to be against editing just to be on "the opposite team" of someone with such attitude, heh.
     
    Zero Angel likes this.
  10. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    As I said in the first post, I wasn't sure what to think about it. I read it over on Google+, thought it was kind of weird, and wanted to share it.

    I guess let's just say the "interview' doesn't work for whatever reason. Let's put that aside for a minute. I still find any writer that would suggest they don't have time for editing to be strange. Editing is a part of the writing process. That is one of the main things I got from the article. I can understand if someone doesn't want to hire an editor, but this just sounds like someone who completely ignores the need to edit. As GeekDavid noted, a lot of people struggle with what might otherwise by good fiction due to problems that could have been fixed by having a second pair of eyes on it.

    I guess I didn't pay much attention to the combative tone because I was more interested in the answers than the questions.
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2013
  11. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

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    Phil: I got the impression that while Mark Lawrence does not edit a draft much at all before it gets submitted to the publisher, they do have editors look over and approve it before publication and that there might be minor changes, but that Lawrence himself is just the kind of writer able to produce a first draft that really works - a rare skill.

    Back on the topic of the interview, it seems the interviewee is an erotica writer - at least I got that impression from the derogatory way the interviewer talked about what they write. If that is the case, I suspect the interviewee chose not to edit because in erotica, quantity over quality is what brings in the money and readers are quite forgiving. If it's good enough that most readers don't mind it, and it's selling in bulk and the author wants to focus on getting more books out to enable them to make more money, then to be honest I can't fault them - they're treating writing as a business (where they see editing as a diminishing returns thing) not as a craft to be perfected.

    I think this merely represents a different approach to writing as a career; if I wrote erotica, I think I'd have the same approach to editing as the interviewee for erotica and make the stories just good enough, but still want to make anything else I write the best it can be. Being as that is the case, I really think the interviewer has presented something of a straw man - they're presenting a view on editing that does not apply to treating writing as a craft, as a means of discrediting the position of not hiring a professional editor.

    So what I'm saying is I'd like to hear the perspective of a "craft-approach" writer who didn't hire a professional editor, rather than a "business approach" writer.
     
    Zero Angel likes this.
  12. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    Chilari: Ah, that makes a lot of sense. I guess I didn't take that into account. In the case of erotica, quantity over quality is perhaps even encouraged. I don't know much about the genre really, so I can't speak on its overall quality. I read a bit of 50 Shades of Grey just to see what it was about. I'm of the opinion that I'll never publicly bash another writer. I just think it looks bad. But yeah, it didn't rank in my all time favorites. Kudos to her thought for doing her thing and being mega-successful.

    I was also under the impression that Mark Lawrence had pro editors looking over his work. I just read that he himself doesn't do extensive editing. His style is leaner than most fantasy writers, so I can see how that works for him. If I find anything about a "craft-approach" writer taking the same "I don't need an editor" approach, then I'll post it up. I'd be interested to hear any comments about that as well.
     
  13. tlbodine

    tlbodine Troubadour

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    I'm not exactly rolling in sales -- I'm working on building exposure. But the reviews and comments that I have received have not been concerned with the editing at all (except for a friend who messaged me to point out the formatting quirks mentioned above).

    Personally, if I had the money for a proper publishing budget, I would prioritize it thusly:
    1 - Professional cover art/design
    2 - Professional formatting
    3 - Marketing (review copies, distribution, contests, ads, etc.)
    4 - Editing

    And, actually, editing and marketing might be tied for third, or I might prioritize the editing over marketing. I would absolutely pay for editing if I had the budget for it. But I wouldn't prioritize it.

    I can't say with absolute certainty that my books are 100% typo-free.

    But I can say pretty confidently that they are the same quality, in terms of typos/spelling/grammar at least, as books published by big-name houses (which also tend to not be 100% typo-free).
     
  14. GeekDavid

    GeekDavid Auror

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    May I offer something I just saw on TV as evidence that you need other people to read your manuscript?

    [​IMG]

    That's from a JC Penney's ad I just saw on TV a few minutes ago. Can you find the spelling error? Here's a hint:

    [​IMG]

    JCP is a multi-billion-dollar company, and no doubt they hired one of the top advertising firms in the nation for that ad campaign... and yet that misspelling made it through all the spell-check programs and onto the air.

    Just something to think about.
     
    Ireth likes this.
  15. tlbodine

    tlbodine Troubadour

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    Going by that logic, should we assume that JCP's top advertising firm does not have professional editors?

    Or should the takeaway be that sometimes errors slip through regardless?
     
  16. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    1) I've noticed an increasing number of typos and similiar errors even in print material these days - material that *has* gone through a pro editing process. (at least I hope it did)

    2) I've also noticed that if the style or story is good enough, readers can be very forgiving of not so great writing, including grammar problems.
     
  17. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    One thing I find a bit strange from my perspective is if someone basically throws out a whole novel just because of some technical issues. If there are problems in that regard I can forgive it if I think it's still a good story. I have more problems with work that has weak characterization, a plodding, confusing, and/or unremarkable plot, and stilted dialogue. I rather an editor help me with those things rather than if I used "its" or "it's" correctly. That's embarrassing if that happens, but I would hope I could hunt down all those issues on my own.

    Of course I don't want to read things with tons of technical issues in them, but if there are only a handful, I can handle it. If they're littered throughout a whole book is when they're a problem. I guess I'm more forgiving than most in that regard.
     
  18. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    A couple of days ago one of the authors I follow on FB actually posted on this very subject. Here's what she had to say -

    She went on over the next day or so to post pics from her galleys showing the errors she was struggling to have corrected. I've also been hearing from other sources of authors having issues with smaller publishers releasing their work riddled with errors after the authors have submitted those very corrections. So, how is this happening? We do our due diligence and still mistakes get published?
     
    Zero Angel likes this.
  19. Nihal

    Nihal Vala

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    A similar yet entirely different situation to the cited by A. E. Lowan makes me forgiving when it comes to works written by foreign authors and published here.

    The reason is simple reason: They're translated versions. Sometimes the translations are badly done or the proofreading is simply sloppy, typos and weird sentences happen in the first versions. I understand it's certainly the national publisher's fault, not the author's fault. Example: Just now I've read an Arch Lector "Zult" instead of "Sult" in my brazilian copy of The Blade Itself. I believe it's the first edition of this translation, released last month in a book festival.
     
  20. GeekDavid

    GeekDavid Auror

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    Personally, in my "work" for Otherwhere Gazette, I've given very positive reviews to books with just a few technical errors in them. And I've had the authors in question write me asking where the errors were.

    I've also panned books with tons of technical errors, especially where those errors were constant and repeated, showing the the author really didn't know the rule in question.

    I can forgive some. Not if there's one on every page.
     
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