The Naked Author: a Guide to Self-publishing (and why your editor is your best friend)
In the book The Naked Author: a Guide to Self-publishing, writers Alison Baverstock and Margaret Aheme say it well: “Having your manuscript edited effectively is the most important part of getting a self-published book ready for publication… Neglect this basic component of a good manuscript, and your readers may not make it past the first paragraph, let alone the first page.”
It’s so true.
On our recent road trip down the northwest coast of the U.S., Eric and I picked up a copy of The Hunger Games for $2 at a secondhand bookstore to read aloud while traveling long stretches of interstate highway in the pouring rain. We hoped it would be entertaining fluff that’d help keep each other alert, and while we’re both surprised at how quickly the story gripped us, we couldn’t help but be distracted by typos, misused punctuation, and fragmented sentences that seemed to jump off the page at us in flashing neon letters. We’re editors, it’s true, so perhaps we’re more likely to be distracted by these kinds of mistakes than many readers, but I also know we’re not the only readers attuned to, and insistent upon, proper language use.
Mistakes like the ones we caught in The Hunger Games (two on the very first page of the book!) are so easy to fix. As a reader, I get irritated when I read a book that is peppered with mistakes when I consider all the editorial support that is available. What it says to me is that the writer and editorial team either thinks I won’t notice or I won’t care when a piece hasn’t been proofread. I did, and I do, and it genuinely takes away from my ability to get immersed in a story in the way that I love to do.
I’m a voracious and passionate reader and I believe that books can be incredibly powerful. Bookstores in other cities are to me what outlet stores, casinos, or theme parks are to other people. They are non-negotiable, must-see attractions. Wandering the aisles of Powell’s City of Books in Portland, OR, a couple weeks ago, a two-city-block-long store (yes, heaven), I was struck as I often am in the presence of so many books at just how much we collectively love to share, and hear, stories. There are so many talented storytellers out there trying to make their tales stand out, and so many readers hungry for stories. I know I am. The mark of a great story to me is when nothing about the work itself distracts me from total immersion. Good editing, Baverstock says, makes the editor invisible and puts the writing, the story, in the spotlight. As both a reader and an editor, I wholeheartedly agree.
This entry was posted on Monday, June 11th, 2012 at 9:19 pm
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