Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Importance of Editing....

The last 7 days have kept me busy.  I mean REALLY busy.  And the sad thing about it all is that some of this could have been avoided....up to a point.  Now I'm talking about re-editing my first novel AFTER it had already come out.  Why would I do that?  Because in spite of the combined efforts of myself and 2-3 other people checking the novel over for grammatical errors, a number of them got past all of us.  From day one, I was determined to try and put out as good a product as I possibly could.  And when I found out I'd failed, I felt obligated to go back and fix things.

Now, I'm sure a number of you are wondering to yourselves, "Is he saying he never got it professionally edited?"  The answer is, "I did not."  Now, this is not because I was so arrogant in my own writing abilities, nor was it because I was being cheap and didn't want to put the money out.  The truth is... my wife and I have applied for Food Stamps and have been getting aid from my In-Laws for the last 5 years.

I was a Realtor up until the market crashed.  And I've not been able to get anything since that happened.  I'm set up with three different temp agencies,  I'm applying for jobs every day, every week, but the economy and job market are not great where we are.  I've gone on plenty of interviews but things aren't happening.  Perhaps it's because I'm 48, or that I've had so much job experience in the past people won't consider me for minimum wage jobs because I'm over-qualified  Whatever the case, this is why I went back to college and got my A. S. Degree in Human Services.  Unfortunately, most places now will only consider people with a B. A. Degree.  Well, my wife is working on hers right now and my turn will come in 2 years when she's finished.  So in the meantime, I keep applying and trying, while also doing the writing to keep my spirits up.

So, in short, I CANNOT afford to spend a few hundred dollars, or even just $100 dollars to get my 380 page, double-spaced, novel professionally edited.  I have to rely on myself, and a few select people I trust (among them are English teachers).  Now, if you're wondering how errors got past even them, apparently my story was so good they kept getting caught up in it.  This is why my readers have been giving it 4 and even a 5 star review, in spite of the grammatical errors.  Those who gave it 4 stars flat out said in their review they wanted to give it a 5 star rating.  Plus, they also stated they are STILL eager to read the next one.

So, what could I do about this situation?  The only avenue available to me.  I went over the book line-by-line and word-by-word.  I found areas where a word was missing, spots with a word duplicated, or two ideas (one of which had been abandoned in favor of another) still mixed together.  I fixed them all as best I could.  This is something I should have done in the first place, but I was so confident others would catch everything for me. Now, will I still use those people again?  Yes, because I've shared with them what we missed so they can help watch out for them.  PLUS, I'm going to go over everything word-by-word again after they've reviewed the manuscript.  If by some lucky chance I can afford a professional editor by then, I'll use one.  But if I can't then this is my last line of defense to help put out a good product.  Which is what I want to do every time.

And I recommend you all do the same thing.  Even if you're book has been professionally edited, look it over word-by-word.  Especially if you made changes at any point, because I found a number of new errors that were created by my revision efforts.  It's so easy to get caught up in the story you're perfecting that you might overlook mistakes you're creating in the process.  And this will keep your book from reaching the level of perfection you're aiming for.

Now, one more thing.  Since I published through Smashwords and Createspace, it was easy for me to replace the interior of the book with a new edited 2nd edition.  I then everyone out there what I did.  Just like I'm telling you right now.  I also offered to replace any flawed e-copies, with the new version, if they wished at my own expense.  So far no one has taken me up on it, because they love what they got, warts and all.  Remember, they still have the version that was earning the 4 star ratings because they thought the story itself was that good!

But I also ordered 25 printed copies before I found out about the errors.  So what did I do about them?  Luckily no one had ordered one of those yet, but I was still stuck with them.  Then it occurred to me, those 25 copies were the first ones ever printed.  In short I had 1st edition copies which were limited in number.  Well, I decided I would sign every one of them and offer them up as flawed, first editions.  I made sure everyone (FB, Twitter, websites, LinkedIn, Blogs, word of mouth, etc.) knew about the grammatical errors first.  This way any buyers knew what they were getting if they wanted one.  I also offered to personalize the books as well as sign them.  This took place a couple of days ago and the results so far is that I now only have 16 copies left.  Honesty can pay off folks.

So, that's all for today.  I'll be posting again soon.  Stay tuned take care and keep writing.

PS: If anyone is interested in one of the remaining 16 books, they are going for $15.00 plus $3.00 shipping and handling for U. S. delivery.  If you're overseas let me know and I'll look into what the cost for shipping would be to your country and we can talk.  Thanks and take care.