Thursday, May 16, 2013

Why writers need good editors

I’ve done the self-publishing thing, if for no other reason than to say, “I did it.” It was not my first book, however.

DIABLERO, a supernatural thriller that featured a resurrected, demon-possessed Blackbeard the Pirate, was published first in paperback by Nightbird Publishing in 2010 and then by Crossroad Press as an eBook in 2011.

So why do a self-published book, you may ask? Well, I think I can sum it up in one word: vanity. I wanted to get my collection of short stories out there, and none of my publishers wanted to publish a short-story collection. So I figured, what the hey, I’ll just do it myself. Shadowland was published as an eBook in 2011 with Amazon, Sony and elsewhere. 

I won’t say it was a bad decision—it was what it was. But only one of the stories, Gray Area, had gone through any kind of rigorous editing. The rest were stories that I had written and reworked several times. 

I hate to admit it, but it shows. Although several of the stories have since been edited and published elsewhere, (see Shadowland inVoluted Tales Magazine #2), they weren’t really the best they could be. Unfortunately, I didn’t have access to any editors that charged less than $1,000 per manuscript, which really wasn’t in my budget. 

I said all that to say this: editing really does make a difference. I love my editors at DarkFuse and Crossroad Press—they give a professional edge to my writing by making sure the story has continuity, catching grammatical and punctuation errors that I otherwise would have missed, and even helping reword things that could be said in a better, more concise way. I would have to pay someone several thousand dollars to do what they do, so I am eternally thankful to have their expertise.

For my second novel, LILITH, a supernatural thriller that puts a mythological creature aboard an aircraft carrier in the middle of the ocean, I was ready to pay a tidy sum for a good editor. But DarkFuse made an offer before I did so, and author Greg Gifune ended up being my editor, so I was happy.

My next book, GOD PARTICLE, a young adult sci-fi thriller that features Chloe Johansson, a globe-trotting sixteen-year-old MIT prodigy, is due out June 4, 2013 and will be published by Crossroad press. My editor there, David Dodd, did an excellent job catching all my dumb mistakes and I think improved my chances of getting good sales. Not a bad thing. 

If you decide to self-publish, my advice is spend the money and find yourself the best editor you can afford, one that knows the business and knows what to look for in a manuscript. Believe me, the money will be well-spent. Don’t put a half-assed manuscript out there, because readers judge you by the quality of your writing, and if one manuscript isn’t up to par, it could affect the sales of any other books you publish.

Michael Garrett, who once worked with Stephen King and other big name authors, offers an excellent service at a reasonable price for anyone who is interested. I only mention him because I was so impressed with his attitude and work ethic. There are probably many other good editors out there, but do your research and make sure they know what they’re talking about, otherwise you’ll spend a fortune and have nothing to show for it.

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