Saturday, January 2, 2016

"Professional" Editing

There are SO many books out there that haven't been edited!  The problem is that most of these published first drafts are self-published, and that makes it hard for us other self-published writers to lure potential readers; discriminating readers want edited books, so they avoid ones they believe will be unedited.
As an English teacher who writes, I am extremely picky about editing my own work.  I re-read, revise, edit, and copy edit my manuscripts numerous times before they go out to beta readers.  Then I do it again before they go to my alpha reader/editor, who is another English teacher.  She rips the manuscripts apart and gleefully pens comments everywhere.  I love getting my stuff back from her; she's amazingly thorough and merciless. :D  Then I edit/revise AGAIN.  This means that by the time I release my self-published books out to the world, they've been edited at least a dozen times.
This is why it irks me when traditionally published books which have been "professionally edited and copy edited" are released with glaring errors.  I'm not talking about the occasional typo; I'm talking about "editors" who never passed 7th grade English.
For example, I love Paige Shelton's books, but her editors and copy editors have no freakin' clue what pronouns come after "than" used as a subordinating conjunction, and half the time, they think "alright" is a word.  (It isn't.  Neither is "alot.")
Of course, that's copy editing, which is essentially checking for spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors.  But what happens when you get a "professional" editor who's useless?  You get a confused reader; that's what.
Recently, I read Andrew Hunt's City of Saints, which is an LDS historical mystery.  I really liked the book, but I had to laugh at how profusely in the acknowledgement section Hunt thanked the editing team at St. Martin's Press, saying how much care they'd put into editing.  No, they didn't.  Let me explain.
In the opening paragraph of chapter 2 on page 10, Hunt gives some backstory about his protagonist in 1st person POV, claiming that in 1904, "Dad" purchased land and "just days before my birth, moved the family" into the home described.  At the end of the same paragraph, however, the protagonist says, "I was weeks away from turning thirteen when an unknown assailant.... killed him .... in 1914."
If the kid was born in 1904, how did he get to be 12 -- almost 13 -- in 1914?
Very early in chapter 7, on pages 59-60, the protagonist has a nightmare.  Hunt has him say, "I am twelve years old, about to turn thirteen.  It is 1914 again."  But six sentences later, Hunt has the protagonist wake, saying, "I am no longer eleven.  I am twenty-nine and it is 1930."
If he's 29 in 1930, then he was born in 1901, not 1904, and he was therefore not 11 in 1914.
Elsewhere in the book, Hunt has the protagonist's mother always serve Sunday dinner at 6:00 -- except in the one scene where she serves it at 6:30 for no apparent reason.
Also, in City of Saints, the protagonist's wife is an English teacher.  In the sequel, a Killing in Zion, she's a music teacher.
For this crappy editing, someone got PAID?  Seriously?
This makes me mad as an English teacher, but it makes me doubly mad as a self-published writer whose works are often ignored for fear they haven't been edited.


  1. Real editors cost serious bucks...

    All of us indies are groaning with you

  2. I couldn't agree more. It irks me enormously when I find an error, especially in a book from a reputable publisher - 'she was arrived at the bay' in a Harper Collins book last week!!