Today, I have the pleasure of hosting B.R. Kingsolver, author of The Telepathic Clans saga, on Mind Reader. Keep reading to find out why edits are really important.
I write books combining Adult Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, and Science Fiction. I believe in fiction as an escape, with devastatingly beautiful women and incredibly sexy men. In my books, you will find characters with psychic abilities, such as telekinesis and telepathy, and a completely different view of a succubus than you've ever encountered before. I made silver and turquoise jewelry for almost a decade, ended up in nursing school, then took a master's in business. Along the way I worked in construction, as a newspaper editor, and somehow found a career working with computers. I love the outdoors, especially the Rocky Mountains. I've skied since high school, with one broken leg and one torn ACL to show for it. I've hiked and camped all my life. I love to travel, though I haven't done enough of it. I've seen a lot of Russia and Mexico, not enough of England. Amsterdam is amazing, and the Romanian Alps are breathtaking. Lake Tahoe is a favorite, and someday I'd like to see Banff. I have a very significant other, two cats and two Basset Hounds. I'm currently living in Baltimore, nine blocks from the harbor, but still own a home in New Mexico that I see too infrequently.
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The importance of edits
Adam who's lover was imprisoned by the dark lord, lead his horse threw the gate into the city, conscience of eyes following him form the moment he set foot in the city, but he was to tired and hungry too care after too days on the road.
I've seen all of those errors in novels I've purchased for my Nook, and been disgusted that I wasted my money. Let's try it again.
Adam, whose lover was imprisoned by the Dark Lord, led his horse through the gate, conscious of eyes following him from the moment he set foot in the city. He was too tired and hungry to care after two days on the road.
A little better, don't you think? My spell checker didn't catch a single error in the first sample. It might be a great story, full of breathtaking adventure, sensual romance, and plot twists that leave you off balance and afraid to put it down until the final sentence, but the chances are it will never be appreciated. It's a story destined for oblivion and one-star reviews from outraged readers.
I've seen typos and poor word choices slip through the editing process in books published by the large publishing houses. I found a jarring typo in a Nora Roberts book once. But the chances are that the physical books you buy in Barnes and Noble are going to be mostly error free. They pay people with sound English skills to make sure of it.
It's not enough to have a good story and be a good story teller. When I finished my first novel, I read it through and edited it twice, then sent it out to a couple of friends to beta read it. I found a critique partner on line and sent it to her. I was shocked by their responses. "Like wading through molasses," was one of the kinder comments. They highlighted awkward sentences, confusing word choices, and scenes that didn't work.
Some of the critiques I've received will live forever in my memory. "When I read that, I wanted to put my eyes out with my pen." "BR, it's a muddled mess. What's the story arc?" "I think you might want to rethink that scene. If this was a book I bought, I don't know if I would have finished it."
When I check review policies on most book review sites, one of the criteria they stress is "has it been professionally edited?" If not, they aren't interested. Recently, a reviewer of my first novel said, "It's pretty flawless by the way of editing, which is very impressive. The writing is clean and concise." I find it sad that a reviewer feels it necessary to note that a self-published work was well-edited. It says volumes about what she has come to expect from independent authors.
The book didn't get that way by magic. I worked in newspapers for several years, and one of the core rules was that everything that went in the paper was edited by two different people other than the author. Just as readers judge a book by the cover, they judge the quality of the story in part by the care and quality that goes into the presentation of the story.
One of the things I fear is an even stronger backlash against independent authors. I can see a time when Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other retailers charge a fee for checking a book prior to posting it on their sites. They have every incentive to break the power of the large publishing houses, so it's to their benefit to have the independently-published books sell. A lot of bad books camouflage the good ones and cut into their profits. They don't have any incentive to carry books that create a negative impression and don't sell.
I've checked the rates editors charge, and thought about how long it takes me to edit a book. At a penny a word, it would cost $850 for an editor to take one pass through either of the novels I've published. The last work I edited for someone else took three days. I could make a living at it if I had enough customers to keep me busy. But I don't think a lot of independent authors feel they can afford to spend that kind of money, especially since revisions and re-edit would increase the price.
I send my novels to anyone who is interested in being a beta reader and giving me feedback. Not all of them make it through the first draft. I take their comments and suggestions, revise, cut, add, edit, and send it out again. In the end, I've done at least three edits myself, run it through two professional editors, and twice through an eighth-grade English teacher. The reviews tell me I'm doing something right. People may not like my story or my writing style, but I don't get rejected over the technical issues of grammar, punctuation and spelling.
My recommendation to independent authors is to find one or more critique groups to work with and at least one outstanding editor to do a final edit after all the revisions and edits are done. There are thousands of books published every month. Give your book a chance.