WRITING AND EDITING

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Hi SEers! Denise here to talk about the last step before releasing a book—editing.

Authors put a lot of time, work, and love into their words. They go over their manuscripts several times, have beta readers, and critique groups to offer suggestions. Then, there’s another read-through catching those tiny mistakes. Is it ready to release? No!

Of all the steps to complete a book, editing is one you do not want to skip. This is where a final set of eyes makes sure it’s ready to be published. Use the wrong name, need a comma, or a sentence doesn’t make sense? Editors fix that. Use the word was instead of were, or misspelled or misused a word? They catch it! If published with these mistakes, it can pull a reader out of a story.

I’ve read books that were “edited” by the author, a family member, or a bad editor. These books were a mess, and I’m unlikely to read that author again. It’s very distracting to keep stopping to figure out what they meant to say or who was talking because they mislabeled it.

Editing is a very important part of writing, and there are many people who claim to be an editor just because they write or read. It takes a certain eye for detail, education, and patience.

I’ve had some unsatisfactory experiences with people who shouldn’t be editors. My first novel was “edited” by a person who claimed to be skilled at it and offered unbelievably cheap prices. Fortunately, when a reviewer read it over before it was published, they caught the mistakes and let me know. I had to pay a new editor to go over it.

Luckily, the editor I found is the person I still use today.

My worst experience was with a company that offered editing services. First, they went over some earlier already published work. Since I trusted them, I accepted their suggestions without question. Then, I submitted my latest book. There was a promise to complete it within a month. I’m a patient person and can accept excuses and things happening in life, but when three years go by, and it’s only half edited, I finally had to give up. I took the lesson offered that included getting what I needed in writing, and what would happen if the was deadline is missed.

So again, I paid for the book to be re-edited. These were awfully expensive learning experiences, especially if you trust the wrong person(s) as I did.

How do you find a quality editor? Here are some suggestions to help you avoid those expensive and stressful experiences I dealt with in the past.

  1. Make sure the person you want to hire has listed their qualifications for being an editor. Most will have degrees and years of experience doing it. Also, there are reputable sites that list editors.
  2. Check reviews and talk to other clients if available. A recommendation from someone trusted is invaluable.
  3. Get a sample of their work by sending in a part of what you need to be edited. Then, see if you are comfortable working with them.
  4. Make sure the prices are clear and upfront, and you know what you need to be done. For example, do you need line editing, copyediting, developmental editing, or just proofreading? I go with medium copyediting, which leaves it ready for publishing.
  5. Have a contract that clearly states what is expected. Do you want it polished for publishing or have a deadline? Make sure that is included. Never give the full amount upfront, but there is usually a deposit required.

Allow time for this process. Some editors can be booked out for months. Then when you get your book back, make sure you go over it one more time. Now, it’s time to prepare the book to publish!

What are your experiences with editing? Do poorly edited books stop you from reading them?

84 thoughts on “WRITING AND EDITING

  1. Thank you for this, Denise. I’m currently looking for an editor and would be glad to have suggestions. Also, is there a standard rate charged for the various types of edits? I’m new to this, so I’m kind of in the dark. Thank you again.

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  2. Hi, Denise! I too had a terrible experience editing my first book. It was a nightmare. I now have an amazing editor, and I learn so much with each book I edit with her. Thank you for sharing your experience and for the tips. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great topic Denise. I have to think many of us learned the hard way. I’m no different, except, I had a great editor, and one of my writing friends talked me into using their editor for one of my books to ‘change’ things up. What a disaster! She stripped my voice, made me sound clinical, and the best part, she subbed it out to an English teacher friend. How did I find out? In the tracking, the editor’s signature. Big blowup, I caught her and called her out, but I never publicly put her name out there. Suffice it to say, I put my tail between my legs and sent to my original editor, and haven’t left since. 🙂 x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Debby 🙂 I think you’re right many of us have had a bad experience along the way with editors. That’s terrible giving your work to someone else who took your voice out. Yes, words tracking tells us who is commenting.Glad you did have someone you like though and have stayed there Nice to find that editor who we clink with, isnt it? Thank you 🙂

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  4. Pingback: WRITING AND EDITING by D.L. Finn, on Story Empire – DEEZ – News about Art, Books & more

  5. What a great post! Many thanks for the invaluable advice here. I’ve also been irritated recently by mistakes made in books by big name writers. Just because someone says they’re an editor doesn’t mean they have the skillset needed for the process. It pays to do your research!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Alex 🙂 It seems to be more common in the bigger authors now and bad enough to make me stop reading. Yes, just saying you’re a editor doesn’t make you one and it definitely pays to do the research.

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  6. I am so sorry I missed this post yesterday. It’s such a great topic and a necessary one. I too had a bad experience with my first editor. It should have raised a red flag for me when he continually misspelled my name. Thankfully, I found a better one for the next books I published. Editing is expensive, but I definitely do not advise anyone to skip the step. I love the tips you listed for finding a reputable editor. Getting a sample of their work is invaluable and most editors offer to edit your first three pages for free. That’s such a great way to see how they work. Thank you for addressing this critical step in publishing, Denise! Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Jan 🙂 Yes, a step you don’t want to skip. Sorry you had issues with an editor with your first book. That does sound like a big hint that the editor might not up to par when they can’t spell your name right! It is expensive to do on our own, but I look at it as the most important part of publishing.

      Seeing how an editor works and if they work well with you is so important.

      I’m glad you enjoyed this post. I’m happy to share my mishaps if it will prevent someone from making the same mistakes. Xo

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This is a great post, Denise. I’ve read a book which seems to be edited by the author. I found some typos and even the wrong name of the character.

    For Tina Lost in a Crowd, I had several rounds of editing. The final editing was done by a professional. The services had a good system to post the editors’ profiles, years of experience, expertise. Among the editors who edit children’s books, some charged more and some less per page. The company set the rules, such as a number of words counted as one page, the first 3 pages are free as testing pages, etc. After I selected an editor, I checked the reviews, sent my 3 pages, was happy with her work before I hired her. The contract was clear and she delivered on time. I’ll hire a professional editor for any of my future books.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s really hard to see those errors when in our minds we know what is supposed to be there. You did it the right way and we’re lucky to find someone good to work with 🙂 Our words need so many other eyes to help our stories be their best. Thanks, Miriam xo

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  8. Very timely post for me as I just had my first novel edited. I taught school for thirty-one years. Shouldn’t that make me qualified? I edited lots of papers over the years, but I knew I needed an editor. We get so close to our own work that sometimes we can’t see the problems. Even after going over my book twice with my critique group and rereading it countless times, my editor found many edits or suggestions. Most of them were small, but she was right 95% of the time. The first time I self-published a memoir without an editor. My book was not horrible, but I won’t ever make that mistake again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Congrats on your upcoming release, Pete 🙂 You are right we are too close to see the mistakes in our own work. After going over my work many times I’m amazed at the mistakes that were missed.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow, three years, Denise?!?!? That’s crazy!

    I’ve been fortunate that my publisher provides editors for my books. The few I have indie-published, I paid a qualified editor to go over before releasing. I was already familiar with the editor in each case and received good results. I have, however, read books where it was obvious the author didn’t use an editor. Sadly, an author only has one chance to make a first impression. It’s critical to make a good one, otherwise readers won’t return for a repeat performance–assuming they finish the first go-round.

    Great post today!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was really way too long! That’s wonderful you had good editors through publishers and outside when you self published. Yes, I agree lack of editing does ruin that single chance you get to wow a reader. Thanks, Mae 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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  11. Other than a few dreadful books that I’ve read as a result of Goodreads challenges, I’ve been fortunate with the books I’ve read, Denise. I mainly read books by authors I know through my blog and whose writing I have tested out through their posts and enjoyed. Other than these books, I read a lot of classic books. Our blogging circle all seem to do a good job of editing and helping each other by Beta reading, etc. My first book was edited by Charli Mills who did an amazing job and the next two were edited by Esther Chilton who is also amazing. I’ve not had a bad experience but I did seek advice about who to approach for help. My publisher also reads and edits my books so it goes through about five sets of eyes before I publish.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s wonderful you found good editors to work with from the start! We are very lucky in our community, I agree. There is so much support and help, with beta readers, critque groups, and advice. It’s been an invaluable experience to be surrounded by so much talent.

      I think I only did one of the Goodreads challenge a while ago and found the same issue.

      Right now just from the people I’ve come to know through their work and recommendations my reading list is overflowing.

      I enjoy reading the classics too, although I haven’t been doing it as often as I like.

      I do enjoy everything I read now 🙂 Thanks, Robbie!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am glad to know your experiences with reading in our community have also been so good. My TBR is also overflowing and I have recently been helping a few people with beta reads which also takes up a lot of time.

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  12. I worked at a news paper for over fifteen years and then an editor for a public safety firm. When I write, I always use an editor. Even a good editor can miss things. The more eyes you get on your work, the better you will be.

    Great post, Denise.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree the more eyes the better. Yes, we can’t do our own editing, we are just too close to it. Thank you, Michele:)

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  13. Such a great post. I just read a story that had so many errors, it was finally unreadable. It was translated from another language so that could be the reason. But, someone should have gone over the translation.

    I love my editor. I am so lucky to have found a good one right away.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Jacqui :). I could see issues with a book being translated. But you are right someone could have gone over it in the language it was translated to.

      How lucky you found a good editor right away. Yay! I like hearing that.

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    • Thank you, Bette:) You point you make about different editors for different types of writing. I couldn’t use my regular editor for poetry, that required a different skill.
      Thank you for sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. While I agree absolutely with what you say when it comes to reading a book I would rather read one only ‘roughly’ edited if the story is good to one edited to the nth degree with a rubbish story. Yes poor editing is annoying but a poor story is fling it at the wall time 🙂

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    • You make a wonderful point here, Lindsey. I know what you mean, a book can be perfectly edited but not a good story. I’ve ran into that and stopped reading.

      I love a good story, that’s what I’m looking for and find often. Getting lost in that story is such a gift and that’s where editing comes for me.

      Thank you, Lindsey!

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      • Then I thought of that well used quote from Stephen King’s CHRISTINE ‘You can’t polish a turd, boy’.
        And a another thought – sadly poor editing is often down to the fact the author simply can’t afford professional services because, as someone pointed out, you get what you pay pay for, good editors aren’t cheap (nor should they be).

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  15. Great post, Denise. I suspect many of us have journeyed a similar path in our search for a good editor. I’m forever grateful for having found a wonderful editor. Thank you for sharing so honestly and beautifully. 💗

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Gwen. I’m sure many have walked the same path while learning the writing ways 🙂 Then when we find that perfect editor for us we appreciate what we have found. I know I do.

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  16. Sorry for your problems, Denise. I, too, had a bad experience. I had a traditional publisher for my first book, and the editing was awful. Being new, I didn’t recognize the problems until it was published. I had to live down the mistakes until I could take the book back and republish it. This time I had a real editor who fixed the problems. Super post. Thanks for the tips.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry you had to deal with bad editing too, John, especially a traditional publisher. That must have been frustrating not to be able to fix it until later, once you caught it.
      I used to have a naive trust in big publishers and the quality of work they put out until recently when I saw that it had began to disappear. Plus, after all my lessons I learned what true quality was, a lot of that quality I’ve found in some great indie authors 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  17. For whatever reason, even in books by big publishers, I’m seeing more mistakes than usual. Not sure why. I overlook the occasional mistake, but when they’re common, it bothers me. If there are a lot of them, I scratch that author off my reading list.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve seen the same thing from big name authors. My guess is they are cutting corners, but not in a good place. I had to stop reading a favorite author because it was so bad I wondered if they released the first draft. I alway let a couple little errors go too, but like you said if the problem is consistent, then it was a lack of editing issue. Thanks, Judi 🙂

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  18. Bad editing can make or break a story, as far as I am concerned. I have beta read quite a few books and in more than one occasion I mentioned that I hoped they would be using an editor… 😉

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  19. A great post, Denise, and something all writers should do. I firmly believe that we cannot edit our own work, even if we are great at editing the work of others. For one thing, we don’t see what’s actually on the page. We see what we THINK we’ve written. Yes, we need to revise and refine and clean up our manuscripts, but that’s just the beginning. An editor is a must.

    Lately, I’ve noticed mistakes in books by some of the biggest authors in out there. I think this may speak to the state of trad publishing in general, though I don’t know for sure. I’m getting ready to re-read all my published books with an eye to cleaning up any small mistakes that may have gotten by me, my betas, and my editors. It happens, but that doesn’t mean we have to live with those little errors forever. Especially as an indie author, I have the power to make changes, easy-peasy. I can’t undo what’s already in the hands of readers, but I can make sure future buyers won’t be yanked out of the story by an error. (Yesterday, for example, I noticed I’d used “sat” instead of “set” in one of my books (eep!), and plan to sort that out very soon.)

    Thanks for reminding writers that an editor is something every author needs, no matter how experienced and/or talented they are. I agree 100% with everything you’ve said. Sharing! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Marcia 🙂 No, we can’t edit our own work because we know what we meant but that doesn’t always make it onto the page, so true!

      I’ve noticed the same thing when reading a favorite author recently. It was so bad, first draft bad, that I stopped reading it. They must be cutting corners like all the big corporations are doing. Good thing there are good indie authors to read.

      I’m going to take some time off writing to do the very same thing, Marcia. Now that I can format, mostly, I won’t have that added expense. And those tiny errors really show up once it’s published, don’t they 🙂 Thank you for sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. While some books read easier than others, I don’t think I’d stop reading due to editing errors. I’ve only ever stopped reading when the story stops being interesting. Still, if you’re going to tell a story, make it your best one.

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    • Yes, some books are easier to read than others, that is so true. I can get lost in books when they flow, which I love. That’s a good point to try to make it the best you can. Thanks, Dan 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Thanks for this crucial advice, Denise! I’m reblogging. It’s a message EVERY writer needs to hear and act upon, and one I constantly emphasize when anyone asks about writing. I’ve also had some bad experiences with so-called editors. Thanks for sharing how to find a good one! Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Patty 🙂 It is so important and such an expensive lesson to learn. I’m sorry you had to deal with some so-called editors too! It can take some time to clean up that mess. I’m still tidying up;)

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  23. Many of us have had experiences with bad editors. While mine was only one short story with a man who “thought” he was a “fabulous” editor, it’s left a lasting impact on me. To this day, I will not advertise or let anyone know I was included in that anthology.

    As you say, all books can benefit from an editor. There are way too many amateurish ones out there. I recently reviewed a book in which it was clear the author didn’t use betas, critique partners, or editors. If she did they had to be “friends” who don’t have a clue about writing and didn’t want to bruise her ego. I gave it 2.5 stars rounded up to three and that was generous.

    Great post, Denise.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I guess it’s part of the experience of being a writer and learning the business when it comes to editing. You make a good point about being in a anthology and it not being well edited.

      That’s hard when you read something where the editing is the issue. At least you read it! It’s helpful if the author is open to suggestions. Thanks, Joan 🙂

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  24. I’m sorry to hear you’ve had some tough times finding the right editor, Denise. I appreciate your beneficial tips. I’m fortunate to have a good editor through my publisher, but I did have a not too good experience with an indie novella. It was a costly lesson. Have a great weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Jill. Sorry you had a costly experience too! I’m glad you have a good editor through your publisher, that is such a gift 🙂

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  25. I’m currently reading a published book for a promised review. The author has a number of books published with good reviews, mainly 5* with a few 4* and one 3*.
    The story is good, and there’s nothing grammatically wrong with the writing, but it comes over as amateurish. There is overuse of ‘just’, for example. Several times on a page. Occasionally more than once in a sentence. He relies on adverbs too much (she said, cheerfully). Occasionally using the wrong word. And too many prepositions. (Slowed down, stood up etc.)
    It’s obvious he hasn’t used an editor. The work could be first class if he did so. Or even used a critique group.
    Thank you for this post, showing us the importance of not only an editor, but a good one.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Getting rid of those filler words really tightens a story up. I’m guilty of overusing the word “just” and a few others. That edit, and critique group, fixes that problem. It sure makes a difference and detracts from a good story. The good thing is a story can always be edited 🙂 Thanks, V.M.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I decided to go through my first book, and was shocked at how many filler words, weak verbs, passive voice etc. I used. So I’m rewriting it with the help of a critique group. I’ve learned such a lot since I wrote it, thanks to many wonderful people like you.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It’s a fantastic writing community 🙂 I’m going to do the same thing with my older books. We are always learning!

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