Publication Mania

Publication Mania

One of the saddest things I see among beginning writers is their burning need to publish before their work is ready. For many writers in the early days of their career, publication at this stage often comes at the expense of their reputation as a good author.

Writers’ groups, for all their many good deeds, are sometimes gathering places for pompous snobs. I want to be clear that I am not down on writing groups. Far from it. The writing group I belonged to for several years involved a wonderful collection of writers who brought a variety of skills and experience, and who wrote in many different genres. The majority of the members were down-to-earth and extremely helpful to new writers.  However, my writing group also happened to have several authors whose agenda included basking in the prestige of “being published” rather than first concentrating on producing their best work or helping their colleagues.

Many beginning writers are particularly desperate to get their work out there for the public. They hear published authors going on and on about sales and book signings and reviews they’ve received, flaunting their “published” status as if they were royalty. Speaking of which, their “royalties” are often a mere pittance. Beginning writers can’t always see the truth beyond the veneer of big talk, and they become infected with the desire to publish at all costs — all costs except one; that of hiring a good copy-editor.

copy-editing

Why Should I Care?

Besides being a writer myself, I do a lot of freelance copy-editing and so, as I read, I often see work that is prematurely published. I believe that if you publish your writing (that is, put it out there for the world to see and read), it should be as good as you can make it with as few errors as possible.

One writer told me, “I don’t care if it has a few mistakes. I just want to get it published.” I cringed. She wanted the free copy-editing I offered her just to help her out, but she didn’t feel that she needed to make any changes or corrections. She was convinced that her writing was excellent. In fact, it was quite poor and needed a fair bit of work. This woman was an extreme case, displaying slovenly writing habits and a poor attitude. Most writers care a lot more about the quality of their work.

I understand that the cost of having work copy-edited can be onerous for some, especially when they have not yet made their millions on that bestselling novel, but an investment in a good copy-editing job will be worthwhile in the long run. The copy-editor spends many, many hours reading, correcting, and making suggestions for improvements to the author’s work. Unlike reading for pleasure, copy-editing involves careful scrutiny to find grammar, punctuation, and word usage problems. The job comes with a lot of responsibility.

In order to be  good copy-editors, we have to be a bit pedantic. I try not to overlook even the smallest of errors. For me, it is precisely because I care about writing so much, that I can do a good job of copy-editing.

What Does the Reader Look for?

When I am choosing a novel to read for pleasure, like most readers, I go to the first few pages of the paperback or the e-book sample to look for certain indicators of the writing quality. I want to be “hooked” on the first page. I do not want to read about scenery as the character drives by in a car. Nor do I want him to wake up to an alarm clock, or look out a window at the view with the description following. I don’t want to read about the character’s dream either.

I look for the first instances of dialogue to give me an idea of the author’s skill in writing it. If a large variety of dialogue tags are used (responded, replied, answered, retorted, inquired) rather than “said” and “asked,” I lose interest, as this indicates either a very dated writing style or an inexperienced writer.

If I see a pattern developing where, after each bit of dialogue, the speaker is doing something (for example, “Wait for me,” John said, turning around to grab his suitcase), especially if it uses an “ing” word, for me that is often the book’s death knell.

Incorrect usage of words makes me shudder. I cringe when I see “lay” and “lie” misused. I’m sure many readers feel the same when they see the wrong word used.

If you are a writer, a good copy-editor can save you from yourself. DON’T publish that book yet! Get it copy-edited properly and then you don’t have to worry about mistakes in your book, and tarnish your reputation forever.

Anneli[7]

If you are in the market for a good copy-editor, please contact me. I will do three pages of copy-editing for you for free and you can decide whether this is what you need for your novel, or article, or whatever form your writing takes.

 To find out more about me, please visit my website at:   http://anneli-purchase.com

Anneli Purchase

***** I also do e-book formatting. *****

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48 thoughts on “Publication Mania

  1. Excellent, excellent advice, Anneli. I have spoken about this many times and I agree wholeheartedly with your comments. I shall also be reblogging this post over the weekend if that is okay with you. Oh, and I would love you to copy-edit my next book. It will be finished by the end of the weekend if you have time.

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    • That would be great if you would like to reblog my post, Carol. I’d be happy to copy-edit your next book. Just email me and we can work something out. So good to hear that you agree with my comments. Thanks for stopping by and reading this post.

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  2. Oh God, Anneli, thank you for posting this topic. I’ve been in my writer’s critique group for 7 years and have been the leader for 3 of those years. Just had my writer’s meeting last night, and a lot of this stuff came up. I could say a katrillion things on this topic. What’s really tough is that everyone and their dog can upload a novel to e-readers these days. It’s really tough to find a good book, and the really excellent authors end up drowning in a sea of real writers and wannabe’s. The wannabe’s are usually the ones who upload a book without any editing.

    Having said that, I’m shopping my novel to publishers right now. If I don’t get a bite (two of them have asked for partial manuscript), then I will look to getting an editor. I may contact you if that turns out to be the case.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comments, Lori. I’d love to hear more about your writing group. I have a guest post on writing groups coming up next. Should be interesting. Would love to hear your comments on it when it’s up. As for copy-editing your book, I’m available if you feel like trying me out. I know that traditional publishers have editors and I’m still shocked that they miss SO much. Not that I’m perfect (although in editing, I try hard to be), but I sure see a lot of mistakes in traditionally published books as well as in self-published ones. I also see a lot of very good self-published ones, but the downside of self-publishing is that there is so much garbage out there as well. A reader really has to peruse carefully when deciding whether to buy or not.

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      • Oh boy, after 7 years with this group, I could tell you lots about keeping a writer’s group going. It’s very hard to keep things running smoothly with so many different personalities. My group is thriving though. We now have a waiting list to join. I’ll share more if you’d like when you post. Or, if you want to know anymore, feel free to email me.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Very good points, Anneli. I recently had my latest manuscript edited and I’m so glad I did. It needed some major work. I’m keeping your name for future reference. (Saw your post from Melanie’s blog.)

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    • I think most writers are amazed at what an editor sees that they (the writers) haven’t noticed themselves. When I work on my own writing, I have two “editors” reading it and I’m surprised at what I don’t see in my own writing. I see it in others’ but I think sometimes we are too close to our own work to see it objectively. I’m glad to see you here, thanks to Melanie’s blog, and hope you’ll be back to visit more often. Thanks for keeping my contact info for future reference.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great advice, as usual, Anneli. Your experience and desire to have a manuscript error-free, is an inspiration. More and more these days I’m seeing formatting errors in the books I read, too, which is a shame – especially when it’s a big name and clearly, the author is not aware. However, I did spot that you now do ebook formatting – so that’s going to be a big bonus, especially for those publishing for the first time!

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    • Nice to read to your comments, Linn. It’s really shocking how many mistakes still appear, even in traditionally published books. As you said, often the author is not even aware of them until it’s too late. Thanks for your input.

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  5. i must first comment before I reblog this.
    Having used (and still using) your expertise for my book I shudder when I read this post. “Why?” Anneli asks. Because my English is atrocious and you have done such a wonderful job of editing my minds wanderings and journeys.
    I have done with my last self edit and hesitate to return it to you because I decided to randomly reread certain chapters. This reading has me see things that don’t look right to me and once again I’ve made a few changes. My problem is I’m not sure what I have changed is for the better, or is it just recreating more work for you. I read your comments over and over, but the problem is my grounding at school never taught me enough of the basics and I now worry that I have changed your good work back to my bad work….
    I discuss with Linda if I should even publish the book or not and she says I should, yet I worry about the ridicule I might face because of the very thing you mention above, is it written well enough for people to enjoy my ramblings?
    I will, when happy, return it to you for your final comments and possible publishing. Maybe the beatings I received at school for bad English is still in-bedded in memory and lack the confidence to publish…
    But what I do with the most encouragement I can possibly impart, recommend that any budding writer use your expertise before they even think about publishing their work…
    Anneli your are an expert editor and I thank you for your work to date…. Just don’t make me write lines about my errors..lol..

    Liked by 4 people

    • You’re too hard on yourself, Rob. I’d be happy to have another look at the changes you’ve made. I think you have a fantastic book and,yes, it benefited from the editing, but it is SO worth it! I won’t make you write lines if you promise not to lose heart, and that you’ll follow through with this wonderful book.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What an interesting post. I found your site through Bulldog’s referral.

    Many years ago in my old (accounts) job, I used to be rather pedantic and did some proof reading for my Boss, but these days my cognitive function, especially memory, is intermittently ‘foggy’. I have to admit I cringe when I re-read some of my blog posts the day after I’ve published them. I can read my drafts 10 times and STILL miss errors.

    In my opinion, copy-editing should be mandatory if anyone is serious about publishing their work. Writers who self-publish and have the arrogance to assume they don’t need copy-editing are fools.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for saying that, about missing your own mistakes. That is so true of most of us. We wrote it. We know what it says (or should say), so our brain glosses over the words, telling us that it says what we intended. I’ve found that reading my own work out loud helps to spot those mistakes, but still, someone else’s eyes will do a better job than our own. As for the last paragraph in your comment, I wholeheartedly agree!

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      • Yes…please do work with Anneli until you both agree it’s ready. Although it is sad to see someone communicate so poorly their message is lost, it is even sadder when one fails to communicate for fear they may not get it right.

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  7. Excellent advice. I have had a few articles published in magazines but I am working on writing my first draft of my first book, so a way off from book publication. Thanks so much Anneli, this is most helpful for when the time comes for the edit. Sherri

    Liked by 1 person

    • As writers we all learn things along the way (as long as we’re open to considering suggestions). I know that many more experienced writers have helped me become a better writer and I’m still learning. This is what makes writing and editing so much fun. There is always another rewarding goal to strive for.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Publication Mania | Facing 50 with humour.

  9. I was alerted to this post by Carole Wyer; thank you for some excellent advice. I haven’t written anything more than 1000 words, most of my partial stories are quite a bit less than that and I don’t have much idea on how to expand them without falling into the trap of writing too similar to everything else already out there. I’m more of a wannabe than an actual writer. I’ve been participating in a writing challenge and posting a piece on my blog each Friday and all my commenters tell me my work is good, which pleases me, but are they just boosting my ego? Again, thank you for some excellent advice. I will now re-read my printed copies and search for mistakes with new eyes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a great way to start – by writing short pieces. Writing is something that evolves over a long time. Do you belong to a writing group? Or a critiquing group? They can really be helpful with whatever aspect of writing you want to improve on. I think what you’re doing (writing short pieces) is every bit as difficult as writing a novel. Don’t give up. Follow your passion.

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    • Thanks, Victor. I’ve tried many combinations of the http and www and I just can’t get it to work. The website does exist and I can get to it from a new page but not from wordpress. For now, I’ve removed it, until I can figure it out. Thanks for letting me know.

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  10. I feel like I can read this article two and three times, and each time come out with a different valuable piece of advice. I am so grateful to have read this, as I fear that perhaps I might have made some these mistakes myself. I would love more information on your services and fees.

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