More on Self-Publishing: Chapter PLEASEFORTHELOVEOFGOD, EDIT!

The other day I wrote a post called “The Self-Publishing Myth”. For those interested, it can be found here. It turned out to be quite a  popular post, which of course made me happy. That said, when I re-read it to myself I realized that I accidentally downplayed something pretty important — editing.

Here’s the insidious thing about self-publishing — anyone can do it. Now I’m all for inclusion and caring about my fellow humans and supporting dreams and all that rot. I really, truly am. But just because you can self-publish, doesn’t mean you should. At least not right away. And I very much hope that my previous post didn’t give you the impression that self-publishing is an easy-in to trade publishing, because it’s not. Whether your story is in manuscript form or book form, no agent is going to be at all interested in shoddy work. In fact, a shoddy manuscript might get a once-over if you’re lucky, but a shoddy self-published book? Not a chance.

When I’m asked how long it took to write Dr. Fixit, I always give an answer that surprises people: It took me about six months to write the story… and three years to edit it. And even now, the finished version has small, aggravating mistakes that I am still finding (which is why I would love to work with a professional editor, hint, hint). Most of my editing was storyline-based, as I’ve been diligently working on planning ahead for a while now to avoid sticky knots of oxi-morons and redundancies, so three years of editing is a bit long. That said, you still need to go over your entire manuscript at least four times yourself, then give it to others to help you find mistakes you’re too close (or cross-eyed by then), to see. Then go over it again. And, for good measure, again. Editing alone should take a minimum of six months of part-time work, or three months of full-time. And that’s the minimum.

There are far too many people out there who believe that editing is only for editors. “Why should I waste time fixing my work when an editor should do it for me?” is a very average complaint amongst the unpublished masses. Well, from one “unpublished” writer to my fellows, here’s why — because the job of an editor is not to take your rough draft and turn it into a best-seller. The job of an editor is to work with you to polish and sell the manuscript you have already perfected as much as you possibly can. This is your work. Nobody is going to see what you see in it until you make them see. You can describe a grand painting all you want, but don’t expect someone else to paint it and give you all the credit for the idea.

Also, if you’re still in the querying stage, whether you’re self-published or not, don’t do this. Just… don’t.

Writing is a profession. Be a professional. That is all.

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One Response to “More on Self-Publishing: Chapter PLEASEFORTHELOVEOFGOD, EDIT!”

  1. […] Edit the book. Edit. Please edit. Pretty-please edit. Agents and publishers all over will thank you. Plus, without this step there’s really no point in going any further. Trust me on this. […]

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