I suppose if this was just a blog to sell my books, I'd never admit the following. Writers must pretend it is all wonderful, and the books all perfect, right? Not so much.
Of all the things I have learned in writing my books-- editing is the hard part. And I don't mean it takes more talent to do it or anything like that. Just it's where so much can go wrong. No matter how many times you, the writer, reread what you wrote, things get by you.
The solution some claim is to find a good editor, pay them what they are worth and hence avoid this. It isn't that easy. First of all, a really good professional editor (which doesn't mean you don't have a great friend who can do a great job) will want over a thousand dollars to edit your book.
Seem like too much? It's just what it is as they have to read the work with an eye to detail, and they have to know as much about the craft of writing as you do-- or even more. There are many editors out there who will do it for less, and they are quite capable of totally screwing up your whole work because they don't understand why your dialogue is as it is. They don't know the market any better than you do. They will use Word (which you should have already used) and it not only isn't always right but can put in the wrong words; and correct grammar sometimes can make a sentence unwieldy and unnatural to read. Perfect grammar isn't always what sounds right.
A writer wrote a book recently which I got for free for my Kindle but it is currently $.99. I won't say it had a lot of new info in it but it's about the pitfalls in self-publishing-- [The self-publishing industry in denial]. Kind of negative but let's face it, there are millions of books out there and how do you get yours seen? What goes wrong when you put it out?
If you pay that pro $1500 to edit your book, for which they will catch all the logical goofs and the mistakes in unwieldy sentences. The pro might also tell you about redundancies (which you could have already gotten if you had done a search for key words). They could tell you when something sounded cliched. If they're really good, they could tell you the plot made no sense at a point where you then have to justify why it did or change it. If you did too much retelling of the same thing, they'd catch it. That's a little of what you get from a top-notch editor.
The bad editor, well you paid them a few hundred dollars or less; they use Word (like you should have done) and maybe catch the use of coffee in one sentence and tea in the next-- or maybe not. But still you have money in it and how much money can you get out of that book once you are selling it? Where does any of that get your book seen by enough readers to get its ratings higher? How does that get great reviews because reviews are as much emotion as perfect grammar?
One way many authors get great reviews is they ask friends, they review friends' books and the symbiotic relationship benefits both for reviews-- which might be truthful depending on the friend. Mostly though people don't like to find fault with their friend's work, and they sure don't want a negative review of theirs; so they overlook the glitches with what they write. The reader comes along, buys the book based on that glowing report, starts to read and recognizes it's not legitimate praise-- hence their own review is sarcastic, negative, and the writer is back where they started with a mix of reviews and the next potential reader unsure what the heck this book is like.
What brought this on for me is my own recent re-edit for the first book I turned into an eBook. I had originally written it maybe more than 20 years back, edited, edited again and thought it was out in fine form. I thought I had corrected any inconsistencies. Here I was, doing it again for its paperback version and........... grrrrrrr
Yes, when I got into it again, I found so many errors of the stupid kind that at first I felt like throwing in the towel on ever writing for publication. The book is still solid. The story is still one in which I believe. I love the characters and the situation into which they are thrown-- but those stupid errors. How could they still be there? If I go into this book again in six months, will I find others? Or do I finally have it in its right form? I honestly cannot say because I do keep improving as a writer but as an editor-- I can only hope.
When I bring out a book, I use grammar and spell check to catch things Word sees as wrong or awkward. When it underlines it and I disagree, I think about it long and hard. I read the book for logic, to keep the times consistent, characters not doing something right after I said they were doing something else. Word doesn't catch errors of the stupid sort-- only an aware reader can do that.
The most recent read through and editing has made me mad at myself, but it doesn't make me believe a professional editor would have done better for me-- unless I had paid them that $1500 as I actually did some years back on another of my books. I learned a LOT from that professional and felt it was the equivalent of taking a class as I'd get my manuscript back with red-lines and notes. It was worth it for the learning, but if I did this for all my books today, I'd be in hock and never have the profits capable of paying it back.
The truth is if a new author makes say $7000 in a year, they are doing really good. Those like the lady who wrote the million dollar books are rare indeed out in the indie or corporate world. $7000 or so is not a living wage, but it keeps that book out there to be seen, keeps sales coming, and to me it's very successful. It keeps the potential readers coming to them. It's A+ in my book. That isn't what most indie writers probably make. Some make nothing. Others, like me, might make $700 counting all of their sales. Where do you pay for editing any book let alone all of them?
The truth is even the books going out from big publishing houses often have errors because editing is a big expense in an iffy market. They expect the writer to hand them a finished work. The writer thinks they did. I thought I did with this book. Its plot, characters, dialogue, are all good (in my opinion) but the glitches... Argh (a word not in spell check but should be). After doing it so many times I cannot believe I missed these mistakes but clearly I did; and this time I hope I am not missing others. I am reading it for both the beauty of the sentences but also the flow of logic.
What it at first made me feel is-- write don't publish. Writing is rewarding. Realizing I made these kinds of amateurish mistakes, that I thought I was past, that's not so rewarding. But I can't afford to think negatively about this. I do believe in my stories. I have never put out one I didn't like myself and that wasn't a book I'd be happy to buy from someone else.
And for this book. I believe in it still. I fixed the mistakes. I can make it the best book I can write today. I can make sure there are no inconsistencies or places where it's coffee one moment and tea the next. What I can't do is be sure that in six months, if I look at it critically again, I won't find places I can improve it.
If my creative work is what matters the most to me. If I want to put out the best product I am capable of doing, then I just have to keep at this and not become depressed at the fact that in six months I'll be a better writer.
However, I can see why some writers never publish... I want to publish and so am at least glad that if someone bought one of my books and I have improved it (I have had this happen with the books of others that I have bought), they can download the new version for free. It's the best I can do.
Incidentally if you bought Desert Inferno, go back to your Kindle in say three days (give Amazon a bit of time-- make it four) and ask for the newest edition. It'll be out there and fixed! The story stays the same but those glitches-- they're gone... er uh, in case you find one that isn't-- email me............................
This book will also be out in paperback probably in a month given the time to look over proofs. The heroine of Desert Inferno is a direct descendent of the marshal in Arizona Sunset. He has his own story coming in Tucson Moon-- out in late November.