Editors? Who needs ’em?

One of the most frequent and consistent complaints I read in reviews on Amazon about eBooks is the number of errors that annoy the reader. I read one recently where the reviewer had counted fifty instances of typos, missing words, misspelled words, lack of punctuation – even extraneous characters popping up out of nowhere.

As I have mentioned before the very process of ePublishing can create SOME errors in even the most carefully proofread and edited book. The conversion process itself is not fool proof and can introduce some errors. The compromise you reach in getting your book on the market fast is that inevitably a few errors will creep in.

So what’s the answer? I know you want your book to please those who plunk down three or four dollars for it. You want the reader to know that you are literate and worthy of calling yourself an author. You want whoever reads your book to remember it fondly and view the reading of it as a pleasant experience. You want them to remember your name so that if you publish more books they will look for your work.

What you don’t want is a “book doctor.” There may be some legitimate people who call themselves that title, but I haven’t met them. I once had an agent who set up a meeting for he and I with a so-called book doctor. The guy had no credentials, but he did have the florid face and red nose, along with the rumpled demeanor of a drunk. But, for only $1200 he would gladly “take a look” at my manuscript and of course any further “doctoring” would be billable.

Let’s be frank. If there were any such person talented enough to “doctor” your book, don’t you think that they would be WRITING their own books instead of doctoring yours?

What you do need, and I cannot emphasize this strongly enough is AN EDITOR. If you delve into fiction history you will soon find that Max Perkins was the real success story behind Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe and Erskine Caldwell. Perkins was the editor at Scribner’s who is truly responsible for those gentlemen and others who wrote for Scribner’s being the icons that they are today. Read his bio on Wikipedia and be astonished.

So where do you find an editor for your book that you have slaved over for a year or more? Print publishers don’t even use editors anymore. Today books are ground out with little change from the sometimes deplorable condition in which they arrive at the publisher’s office. But does that mean that you should fore go the services of a good and competent editor? Not if you value your work. You want it to be in the best form possible and the person who buys your book deserves nothing short of your best.

I can’t give you a list of editors. Sure, there are advertisements for editors who will “fix” your book for a price. Forget about them. Most of those are scams. My suggestion is that you find a writing group at a university or college near you and, even if you have to enroll in a writing class, do it. It is through those connections and networking that you will find a teacher, retired professor, or someone thoroughly schooled in the correct use of our LANGUAGE. Then arrange for that person to edit your book. It may cost you something – the time of a good editor is valuable, but if you have written a truly interesting piece of work I think you will find that a good editor will trade off some expense just for the joy of working on something GOOD. Editors are people. They enjoy making a good book, a better book. And, after all, that is what you want, isn’t it?

About johnbeckmanbooks

John Beckman, a retired meteorologist, was known as “Johnny the Weatherman” in a career that spanned forty years. He forecasted the weather on WSJS-TV in Winston-Salem, NC, at WFGA-TV in Jacksonville, FL, and for thirty-three years in Atlanta at WSB-TV and WXIA-TV. Also a well published author Beckman now devotes full time to writing fiction. He currently has several eBooks on Amazon.com, "Tropical Knights," first in a series of adventure/mysteries about a sailor and his lovely CIA cohort on a mission to save America. Now available the sequel, and second in the series: "Tropical Daze." The third Jack & Amy adventure is "Tropical Rage" which became available on 30 April 2014. All of his books are highlighted on http://johnbeckmanbooks.com and available from Amazon.com. . .
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