Writing and the Importance of Editing Tools

Monday, July 23, 2012


So last week, I talked about eating right, getting rest, meditating and exercising. I also mentioned the amazing number of books some writers have been able to put out, which tells me they look at their writing as a business. I think it may be a little easier to do this if you don’t have a full-time job, but even if you do, it can be done, but might take a little more time.

In keeping with my thrust at a higher level of productivity, I drafted the people in my workshop into a buddy system, which will keep us accountable. I listed my goals, which are to edit and publish the mss on my computer (six completed novels and eight in various stages of writing) and to promote my published works.


After that I wrote out the smaller tasks, focusing on one project. That one project is on the front, as one reader of Distraction asked when the sequel will be out. See how useful a Facebook fan page can be for your readers to connect with you? I’ve posted my goals for this week on my workshop forum and since then I’ve got some work done.

That said, let’s jump back to getting books out. From time to time I’ve downloaded free books I thought I’d enjoy. One thing I’ve noticed is that on some of them, reviewers complain that the books have grammatical and spelling errors. I’ve noticed that in a book I started reading this morning. It’s an interesting story, but I’m just out of the starting gate and I’ve hit homonym, tense and grammar issues. With a start like that, I'm not sure if I'll even continue with the story. Errors are one thing, but what concerns me most (and these aren’t even my books) is that the reviews on Amazon are a permanent record that says something about the quality of our work. It’s terrible when it’s undeserved and worse when we set ourselves up for it.

I know that people take books down, edit and put them up again, but I think it would be so much better to take the necessary time to get the book as clean as possible on the first go round. When I see reviews that speak to errors on a book that I’ve taken a chance on, and the book turns out to have been cleaned up, it still tells me that it was first put out there without being dressed up properly. 

I know many writers simply can't afford to pay an editor, so if you're going to run the risk of self-editing, a MASSIVE AMOUNT OF TIME should be taken with the process. Worst case scenario - if using colleagues/friends/beta readers, make sure these are people know a thing or three about the English language and are decent writers.

Now, I’ve been blessed with a keen eye in terms of editing, so if there’s an error in a book, I’ll find it—not that I set out to do that. As writers know, we read as both readers and writers. 

For those of you who do your own editing, I found an EXCELLENT editing tool a few months ago. It’s Editor, by Serenity Software. No, I’m not an affiliate or anything, but I think the software is so good, I bought it. Of course, I worked the heck out of the trial period before I did. I plan to use Editor as the final step in the editing process. It can be a bit exhausting to use as it covers various aspects of editing, but the results are worth the effort.

In my opinion, if writing is to be treated as a business, it’s important to have the right mix of tools that works for you. That said, outside of your human editor, what helps you most when fine-tuning and editing your stories?

24 comments:

  1. I'm going to have to check Editor out, Joy.
    I find errors in almost every book I read (Indie or traditionally-published). So I strive to have zero in my own. I read through (or listen to) my book approximately 10 times after I've finished all revisions to comb for errors. I always manage to find them. Luckily, my husband is editor extraordinaire.
    You're definitely a good editor, Joy. I was impressed by that aspect of your book, as well as the content.

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    1. I know what you mean. I edit to the point where I feel I can't go on with it, but it has certainly paid off. The publishers' editors I've with have commented on how clean my manuscripts are. As you know, I'm neurotic where editing is concerned. I know now that it's good for something. :)

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  2. I love my editor. She's the best one I have ever worked with and feel so happy that I've found a good one. That being said, I hear ya. However, people shouldn't be so hard on free offerings. I think some snobs out there are so used to downloading and pirating quality stuff that they thing everything that's free should have the same production values as a Hollywood movie or a song produced by a major record label. I want to say to them "Those aren't free! You got them because you stole them!" But they'll just say, "Pfftt. Everybody does it. And if I can get Lady Gaga for free then books should have to be held to the same standard. I mean...I can download George R.R. Martin for free off of Pirate Bay? Why can't this other free thing be the same quality?"

    In a word...bullshit. But that's life.

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    1. I hadn't even thought of it like that, but I do realize that 'free' has given some people (who ordinarily wouldn't buy) the leeway to trash the free stuff they've downloaded.

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  3. I found an editor I really enjoy working with. Took a few tries. I think editing is a necessary business expense.

    I honestly think people are harder on indie authors, holding us to a higher standard. Yes, there's stuff out there that shouldn't be. But there's also a lot of high quality offerings out there.

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    1. Mary, yes, I do realize that people are harder on indie authors, but like you said, there are some good books out there and I've read some darn good ones in the past year.

      Congrats on your release. Gonna post on that this week.

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  4. So true! Making sure whatever you put out there is polished is key. Editor sounds cool...

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    1. It's the best programme I've come across. Takes a lot of time and patience to use it, but well worth the effort.

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  5. I have a couple of critique partners with a sharp eye which is brilliant. And I don't rely on spell check. You are so right--writing is a business and editing is a crucial part of that business.

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    1. You know it, Lynda. I find my critique partners invaluable and though I've bought several writing aids, somehow, I still write in MS Word, but I don't rely on spell check either. Word has the potential to suggest words and such that have no business in your ms.

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  6. I use spell check, then have my Kindle read the manuscript to me, and I have beta readers with a good eye. It would still be worth it to check out the software out there.

    I've read some truly good stories that were marred by excessive errors. Traditional and self-published books have errors, but when they're excessive the work looks amateur.

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    1. Medeia, I envy people like you who get all the cool stuff to work for them. I loaded my last ms on Kindle, but it was only to see what kind of reading experience it would make for readers.

      It makes me sad when I read a good book that has errors. If I plan to review, I'd love to give 5 stars, but know I can't, no matter how much I'd like to.

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  7. Sounds like an awesome program. I'm going to check it out.

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    1. Yep, it's worth every cent I spent on it. I kinda wonder why they haven't hyped it more, 'cause it's such a good product.

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  8. I'm such a stickler for grammar and flow that I find it really hard to wade through a badly edited book. I've got to start using the sample pages and Amazon's "see inside" feature more often before I buy a book!
    Accountability really helps me - a bunch of us from the Compuserve Writers Forum (where we also have accountability threads) started a group on Facebook, just to keep on top of each other's progress. Somedays we don't write but accomplish other things instead, but either way it's nice to have others on your side!

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    1. Deniz,
      I know what you mean. Before I agree to review books for people, I have a look at the sample on Amazon. If I don't think I can manage it, then I decline. For everything I buy on Amazon, I download a sample. Three chapters are usually good enough for me to tell what kind of reading experience I'll have.

      Your group sounds awesome. There's nothing like knowing you have to keep on top of your tasks and that there are others rooting for you.

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  9. I'm wondering why people put stories out there that are full of errors... especially spelling errors...
    What causes them to do so? A sense of urgency to get the stuff exposed? The fact that writing is not taken too seriously and is more for fun? Lack of professionalism? In all these cases, it still doesn't make sense to me...

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    1. Hey, Michelle,
      IMO I guess since it's so much easier to be published, some of us get carried away by the thrill of getting books to market ASAP. If I want to be taken seriously as a writer, I think it's in my best interest to put out work that is clean. Indies are held to higher standards, which is enough of an uphill battle without us shooting ourselves in the foot.

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  10. Thanks for the editing tool suggestion. I am going to check it out right now. What I use to edit is my own tool. It's a workbook I created that takes me through all the stages of editing (mostly based on things I do wrong or goof on). Each book passes through the workbook. It changes as I grow. One day, when I have it perfected I'll have to share it with the world. LOL.

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    1. Sounds like you have something of some merit there, Tanya.

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  11. Thanks so much for bringing the Editor program to my attention. Definitely going to check it out. :-D

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    1. No problem. I think it's a pretty cool tool.

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  12. You've got the right mindset about this issue. It's hard to argue with near perfection, but shoddiness can truly sully ones reputation to where it can be tough to live down. You are a pro.

    Lee
    Wrote By Rote

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    1. Arlee,
      True that. Better to do all I can before opening shop to avoid having to yank the shutter down unceremoniously. Thanks.

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