A Small Change = A Big Difference

Posted by on Mar 30, 2011 in Uncategorized |

The title of this post reflects how I feel about the chapters I’ve received from my editor thus far. Yesterday I received the next three chapters of Exiled. Having the first 5 now I’m thrilled. My editor didn’t make many major changes, most of them were small, subtle, and to be honest I didn’t think would make much difference. Boy was I wrong.

One of the great features of Microsoft Word is the track changes  features. This allows someone to make changes, but you can view the changes in the open document. This way, I can see the changes that were made but also what I had originally wrote. A lot of the small changes my editor made really opened my eyes. I couldn’t believe how rearranging a few words, or changing a word here or there could smooth out a sentence and improve and entire paragraph. I’m impressed. And of course, I let her know.

I suppose this is an important feature when considering self-publishing. Everyone is talking about what seem like overnight success stories. The first one that jumps to most minds is Amanda Hockings. You’ll notice I link to her blog and not any specific posts, and there is a reason for this.

If you scroll back over the last two months, Amanda has a few great posts about what she did to get where she is, and why she took a $2 million deal versus continuing to self-publish. I’ll give you a hint: it’s not for the validation some feel the Big 6 offer that tells us were good writers (and for the record, the only people who can validate this to you are readers). 

Take some time and review her blog from the time she started. One thing that Amanda Hockings does not have  is overnight success.  She worked her ass off to get where she is today and although few of us will ever see such success as writers, were damn sure not getting there without the necessary elbow grease.

I mention this because after hiring an editor and seeing the results that she delivered, I’m convinced any writer planning to self-publish should have their work edited professionally. This might seem like common-sense, but you’d be surprised. I didn’t think my writing was in that rough condition. I was convinced I had a great story – and I was right, but there are a lot of grammar issues. My spelling is great, but my grammar is poor and that can pull a reader out of story just as quickly as a massive plot hole. Bad grammar makes for choppy sentence structure, which makes sentences read funny, which in turn causes the reader to stop and re-read something. That is something none of us want. We as writers know what the sentence says, we’ve looked at it a million times. We know how it’s supposed to be read, but that can easily be different than how the rest of the world reads it.

Do your story justice. Take your WIP, write the hell of it. Polish it the best you can and when you think it’s perfect and you can’t possibly make it better, hire an editor and get the finishing touches put on. I assure you, you’ll be surprised. Do make sure you do your research though. The last thing you want to do is spend $1000 – $3000 having someone edit your book only to realize they don’t have a clue.  And if the price seems like a lot, look at it his way; writing is a business. It’s your business, and you have to invest in it both financially and emotionally to see the best possible finished product.

I’m not writing this to toot the horn of how error-less my book will be in a month . I’m sure even after a professional edit there will be errors, but not as many as if I’d published without one.  As writers we can’t please everyone, but one thing we can do, is write the best story in us to tell and when we’ve made it as great as we possibly can, get someone experienced in writing, language, structure, style, etc to make it better. No story is perfect, but every story deserves the chance to get as close as possible.