Thursday, October 24, 2013

Day 291 of the 365 Days of Blogging

The author/publisher,
Dane F. Baylis




As I said in last night's blog, the Editor-in-Wife got the last go round with the chapbook manuscript. I thought it was flawless, but she found another few places where I was going, "That must have just happened. I swear the thing was perfect less than an hour ago." But it wasn't, which is why you need more than one set of eyes reading anything you intend to publish. (Yes, except for rare occasions, this blog gets read by the E-in-W as well as myself.)
This is something I've taken other writers to task for when they rush to publish and then ask my opinion. Editing is not retrograde! Once you commit something to the public arena there is no "Do-Over" button. If your first impression involves typo's, grammatical errors, plot and timeline problems, and formatting glitches, then that is the impression the distributors, reviewers, and buying public will be left with.
Unless you have somebody in your corner who has the skills to do the kind of editing that is required for a work going to print, you need to hire somebody. Plain and simple, take a look at the ranks of the self-published on the major outlets. Do their covers grab you? If there's a preview function, is what you're reading flawless? Do you know what constitutes flawless?? Is everything laid out as close to perfect as can be expected? Not sure what constitutes proper manuscript layout? Go to the library and pull down a release by a major house. Go through it one page at a time. See how the Title Page is composed. Then look at the information page. Go on through the book. What about the Table of Contents and the numbering? How is the body of the work laid out?
These books look the way they do because the major publishers have several different teams of editors. They aren't your Mom, your BFF, a high school English teacher, or the instructor from that creative writing seminar you took. These are people who live, breathe, eat, and sleep editing. Their entire raison d'etre is editing to create the best books possible, period. 
Some editors handle just layout. Some are the evil gods of grammar and composition. Then there are continuity editors. If you're going it on your own, you had better learn what each of these people does. Then invest the money in a professional edit. At least one. Are they cheap? Nope, but they will greatly increase the likelihood that somebody who counts might see your work and know you took the time to do your end of the heavy lifting.
This may also get you into more readers' hands. With the dismal statistics of how many people actually read books, and how many of those books are not read to conclusion, why tempt a reader to put you aside because your work looks amateurish?
"But I am an amateur", you quip! Yes, but what separates amateurs from pros, quite often, is a simple matter of confidence. If what you've released to the general public looks and feels like something done by a top flight author through a major publisher, then your chances just went up that you'll get noticed. Will it make your book a million seller? Probably not, but it might keep it selling for far longer than a less thoughtfully produced work.
Just a helpful hint from your Uncle Dane.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------, love, write.
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Dane F. Baylis

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