Publication Mania

I wrote a post about this about six years ago, but felt it was time for a re-posting, as I see an ever-increasing number of poorly edited books on the market.

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 new 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.

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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 (and I do try to keep my prices low). 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Just because your Aunt Mary has read your manuscript and told you it is perfect, doesn’t mean that it really is. It just means that she loves you. So DON’T publish that book yet! A good copy-editor can save you from yourself. Get it copy-edited properly and then you don’t have to worry about mistakes in your book, and tarnish your reputation as an author 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.

P.S. I am older (and wiser) now, than I was when this picture was taken. Just wanted to be honest.

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

Why Hire a Copy Editor?

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You have an amazing story to tell. Aunt Mary says, “Why don’t you write a book about it, dear?” So you do, and you rush to self-publish your first book just the way thousands of authors are doing these days.

But, wait!

You may feel you’ve just written the next bestselling novel, but the truth is, most first novels are full of errors.

When you rewrite the first draft (and the second and third, and so on) except for small improvements your work will still have weak sections. You can’t fix something if you don’t know what is wrong. At some point you will need outside help. Even experienced authors benefit from an impartial eye, so that help should not come from your loving Aunt Mary. Support, yes, but writing advice, no. Not unless she’s a successful author herself.

Have you taken the time to go to a writing conference or join a writers’ group? If you have ever had your writing analyzed by an expert, you were most likely shocked by their comments. You had no idea there was still so much to learn about writing. Taking a course in creative writing, joining a local writers’ group, going to writing conferences, and reading some of the many books on writing can teach you techniques for making your novel a success. You will pick up writing tips and learn how to structure a novel.

After you’ve rewritten your novel employing all your newfound knowledge, you may think you are ready to publish. Not so. This is the most dangerous stage, where many writers become impatient and “just want to get it published.”

Take a step back. You have a wonderful plot and you’ve told the story in a way that makes the reader want to turn the pages, but you can ruin it all by publishing before it is ready. Some people say poor editing doesn’t make them stop reading. Does that mean they don’t care about the fine craft of writing? If they will read anything, regardless of quality, perhaps they will write without quality too. Not something worthy of much respect.

Imagine you are going to a job interview. Would you present yourself before the interviewer  with your hair scraggly and unwashed, wearing a beautiful brand new outfit and dirty old sneakers? Would you think it doesn’t matter because you know you’re a great person inside?  I can guarantee you won’t make a good impression. The interviewer will have nothing good to say about you. He is judging you by what he sees.

And so it will be with your book. If you want the readers to love it and recommend it to others, don’t publish it if it hasn’t been cleaned up. And I don’t mean a quick read through by Aunt Mary who declared it the best thing she’d ever read. Even that friend with a college degree who pointed out some grammatical things and a spelling mistake is not going to catch everything. Get your book professionally copy-edited and publish quality work confidently.

If you have not worked at shaping your novel with the help of books, courses, critiquing groups, and workshops, you may need a substantive editor for putting the scenes and events in the best order. Chances are that you are past this stage and feel the book is ready. Don’t hire a proofreader. That won’t do you much good unless you only want spelling, punctuation, and typos fixed, but a good copy editor will check all these things. You pay once and get the benefit of having any mistake or problem pointed out to you.

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Here are some of the things a copy editor will draw your attention to.

  • poorly phrased sentences
  • lack of balance in the sentence (perhaps where the verb at the beginning does not match the clause or phrase you have added onto the main sentence frame)
  • overused words
  • repeated words within two or three sentences
  • incorrect grammar usage
  • incorrect capitalization
  • misuse of possessives and plurals
  • wrong word meaning
  • punctuation mistakes, especially in the use of dialogue
  • typos, missing words, and repeated words (the the)
  • incorrect information (fact checking)
  • consistency throughout the work (does Jane become Jayne later in the work?)
  • misspelled words (breath or breathe, loath or loathe)
  • misuse of homonyms (peek, peak, or pique)
  • incorrect verb tense (lie, lay, laid, lain, etc.)
  • boring repetition of the same sentence pattern
  • incorrect use of pronouns after a preposition (between him and I? or him and me?)
  • use of clichés that are not part of dialogue

These mistakes and many more will be drawn to your attention. It’s well worth spending the time and money to have the errors corrected. A good copy editor will help make your writing shine.

 

Why You Need a Copy Editor

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You start reading a book and are just getting into it when you notice a repeated word. Oh well, you shake your head and continue. On the next page you find the verb “to lie” misused, and you feel irritated. Still, it’s a good story and you want to find out what happens, so you continue. Then you see glaring punctuation mistakes in the dialogue. At this point you begin to wonder if the author knows anything about writing. You had hoped at first that they were just typos,  but repeated errors and misused words (such as “peek” instead of “peak”) now have you wondering if you can stand to read a whole book of this quality no matter how enthralling the plot is.

As an author, I would be embarrassed to publish something like this, but often we can’t see our own mistakes. On re-reading our work, our brain tells us that the words say what we intended. Our eyes gloss over the  errors because, we already know what it says–we think! This is why all authors need a good copy-editor. Our  reputation hinges on publishing good, clean writing.

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Most writers like to feel confident that their written work is free of errors. The truth is that often they are too close to their work to notice the errors that may be there.

Would you submit your work for approval if you knew that rejection was imminent? You can avoid that rejection by hiring me to proofread and edit your work.

What I Can Do for You   

Whether you have written a newspaper or magazine article, children’s book, short story, novel, or a university textbook, I can help you to make that work perfect.

I will read your work, checking for correct spelling, punctuation, grammar, balance in verb tenses, and word usage.  I will verify cross-referenced material and look for any inconsistencies in your work.

I use the Track Changes feature in Word to point out errors. This gives you the option of accepting or rejecting my suggestions without jeopardizing your original work.

If you wish, I can make recommendations for alternate wording to remedy awkward phrasing. If you need help in writing down your ideas, I can do that. I will edit your work unobtrusively.

I am comfortable and competent in editing work that is interspersed with German, French, and Spanish, including bibliographies that may contain foreign titles.

How to Send Me Your Work

You can send me your work as an email attachment, preferably as a Word file.

My Rates 

(US) $.01 per word for complete proofreading and copy-editing, checking for grammar, punctuation, word usage, and inconsistencies. I will do three pages for free so you can see the quality of my work before you decide if you’d like to hire me.

Rates are negotiable depending on the job. Discounts available for greater word counts.

Contact Information 

Anneli Purchase

Email: anneli.purchase33@gmail.com

Qualifications

  • 25 years of teaching
  • 19 years experience with copy-editing, as well as writing and editing novels and articles
  • Have attended creative writing workshops and conferences
  • Have edited university-level books and articles in Ancient History as well as in the Sciences
  • Can translate from German to English and have a good basic knowledge of French and Spanish
  • Will re-write work for you if desired
  • Can suggest changes to improve your writing if that is what you would like
  • Have a keen eye for grammar, word usage, spelling, punctuation and balance in verb tenses
  • References available

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*** Don’t forget to check out my other blog for stories and photos. Anything goes, on “wordsfromanneli.”

http://wordsfromanneli.wordpress.com