January 15, 2014

why every author needs an editor and a proofreader

Blogger's Note: Today, Mary Metcalfe, author of New Beginnings, joins us for a guest post as part of her Chick Lit Plus Blog Tour. Mary addresses a topic that every aspiring author needs to consider before they submit their novel to a publisher or hit the "publish" button his or herself. Enjoy the post!

Why Every Author Needs an Editor and a Proofreader
By Mary Metcalfe

When I think of the hundreds of hours authors spend researching, writing, editing and polishing their work I’m still surprised to come across manuscripts that have not been professionally edited and authors who don’t think they need to be. In my day work, I’m a book editor so I see dozens of manuscripts a year. The company I freelance for always provides an editorial evaluation as the first step in the publishing process. It also has the author complete an interview.

One of the key questions for me is “has your manuscript been professionally edited?” When I see “no” and a comment like “I have a degree in English” or “a teacher friend proofread it” I know I have my evaluation cut out for me. Bottom line: I have yet to read an unedited manuscript that is ready for publication without any further work. Many authors don’t realize they need to standardize the spelling of words for consistency; standardize spacing after punctuation; watch for grammatical and punctuation errors; etc.

Historical fiction and non-fiction brings its own set challenges. The words used need to fit the time period of the story. Using the word “sniper” or “foxhole” in an 18th century military piece doesn’t work. The words didn’t exist in military usage at the time. Similarly, the word “socialite” didn’t exist in the 18th century, nor did “call girl” (only after telephones were invented).

As a reader, I want to be transported into the time and place and characters of the novel. So, when a word is missing or the wrong punctuation is used or a word is completely misspelled, it just stops me. The fact that I’m an editor has nothing to do with it. When I’m reading, I’m a reader first and I want the story to flow without interruption.

In today’s demanding world of publishing, an author who doesn’t have an editor or proofreader is up against what I call Reader Revenge. These are readers who post online reviews such as: “great story but there were too many typos so I’m only giving 2*.” That happened to an author who I now edit for. His novels are excellent but his first one encountered several Reader Revenge reviews that kept the book’s rating down to the point that he couldn’t advertise through some of the main online channels such as Book Bub, which requires a minimum 4* rating.

Moral? Every author needs an editor and preferably a separate proofreader. When you’ve spent hundreds of hours crafting your manuscript, it deserves to have professional polishing. You owe it to your readers.

I hope you enjoy New Beginnings. It went through several rounds of editing you can be sure!

About the Author

Mary Metcalfe is the author of three published novels –Winds of Change, New Beginnings, Road to Tomorrow – and currently at work on her fourth. She and her long-time husband live in the foothills of the Laurentians in Quebec,Canada with a small herd of cats and a Canadian Eskimo dog. Their daughter is a published literary non-fiction author.

Connect with Mary

About the Book
Workaholic real estate agent Carol Brock can't seem to find a good man. Her first husband cheated with a law clerk less than half his age. Then she found herself in a string of bad relationships with unscrupulous men, including a con man and art thief, who shredded her professional reputation and strained her relationship with her college-age children. Carol has sworn off men and is determined to reclaim her life and career on her terms. But, when Boston’s most eligible bachelor, restoration specialist Devin Elliott, puts in an offer on a charming Victorian, Carol admits she’s attracted. Devin’s offer unwittingly unleashes a psychopathic rage in an ex-girlfriend that spills into Carol’s life. As she and Devin try to stay one step ahead of violence, Carol must decide whether she's ready to risk her heart again.

Buy the Book
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