|This picture has nothing to do with the article...I just love the Oregon Coast.|
Sometimes, a little can say a lot.
Okay, so that was pretty vague, but here is the gist of where I am going today: if you want to be taken seriously as an author…get an editor. One of the greatest plagues in the indie scene is the poorly edited manuscript. Now I’m not saying that you need to shell out $5000 for some professional service. What I am saying is that there are people out there who love the long, torturous process of painstakingly picking through your story to make it as clean as possible before the public gets hold of it.
You are going to have critics; that is part of the deal when you toss your hat into this arena. Don’t put yourself on a tee or hang from a string like a piñata inviting the public to take free swings. Whether it is something as simple as hitting the spell check button after you have read through it, or going to some of your fellow writers and asking for editing referrals, you need some help with that last bit of polishing.
There are some helpful programs out there, but you can’t rely on them completely. For one, they might suggest corrections that do NOT need to be made. However, they can be helpful as long as you are careful. One of the best things that you can do is read your story out loud. By doing so, (preferably with somebody to listen) you can catch some of your awkward phrasing, or the repetitious use of a single word nine times in the span of two sentences.
One of the best things that you can do is read some of your indie brethren and sistren (that made up word is a perfect example of why you need a human eye…yes, it is made up, but it is a wee bit of a joke). Find out who reads clean and who reads like a poorly constructed junior high creative writing assignment. Peruse the reviews. You would be surprised (or perhaps not) how often poor editing is mentioned. Then ask them who does their editing. Most indie authors use indie editors. Those folks are trying to scratch out a living as well and love being recommended. (I am blessed to have a pair of very prolific writers as clients. Both are very generous with their compliments AND their referrals.) I am always learning, and like anything, I continue to discover rules that I was not aware of before. I usually have four or five tabs up for various grammar sites. So is my work perfect? Nope. But if I am picking out ten or twenty errors per page, then YOUR work looks better by at least that much.
I will admit here that I am dipping my toe into Grammarly. I have found it to be pretty good. It still lacks a human element which allows it to over sanitize work and offer “fixes” that are not needed. However, it still beats just going to print without some clean-up work being performed. You simply can’t beat the human factor. I have not decided if I will continue using them…I am about to run a test with one of my older projects where I take the original rough and edit it (making notes on my fixes) and run the same document through Grammarly. So…we will see…
Even after editing, it is possible that you will have an error or two make it out there. Undoubtedly, somebody will discover it and mention it. That is reality. Even “professional” services let one slip here and there; but one or two in a book is a lot better than five or six per page! You have to live by the axiom that nobody is perfect.
The bottom line is that if you want to be taken seriously…get another set of eyes to check your work. I could go an about the new “role” of the editor in the indie scene, but that is a post for another time.