Today is another day about my ramblings. Today it is about copy editing.
Because lately I read an increasing amount of poor quality stories: grammar, typos, format, missing or double words, repeating words…. list is endless. I am not sure the issue comes from the author or the editor/publisher. I spend $$ and I should have quality in the product. (not talking about the story/romance).
I am upset to see big (and small) publisher names using their customers as milk cows with this careless attitude. IMO it damages the author’s reputation BIG time and words are spreading fast. When someone reads a book, will this person blame the editor or the author?
ME? both! It is both their responsibility to deliver quality… because guess what? I pay for it! Although this goes with self-published too. Which in this case the responsibility is entirely the author’s.
I can joke about it and say: How would I improve my English if I cannot rely on a book that was written and revised multiple times and most likely by different American/English professional people? But reality is I do not have an English Language and Literature degree and do not pretend to have one but if ***I***, being a french mother tongue, can notice poor edits, I consider myself as the last person who should notice those.
The funny (?) thing is that 99% of authors will not feel concerned about this post. But if they ask why they did not get the 5 stars they hoped, part of the answer is this. Some reviewers will not be shy to mention it, when some will include it the rating and won’t dare to mention it fearing to be ridiculed because after all, they are not authors so they cannot understand right? Guess what! we sure do!
So, do I look like I am lecturing or be above authors and/or publishers? HECK NO! I am a reader, occasionally a reviewer (not the shy one, the other one), once in a while a beta reader, sometimes a fan but most of all a customer.
You know, the editor’s job exists. Nobody can become an editor out of the blue. A BETA is NOT an editor. A FAN is NOT an editor. It takes a PROFESSIONAL with experience or an author that is extremely good… Yes, I met some. But lets face it, the huge majority is not ready and proof is that I read as I said more and more poor quality editing.
Many people struggle to differentiate between the various types of editing, but knowing the difference will help you to communicate with your editor more effectively. If you don’t understand the difference between copy editing, proofreading, and substantive editing, you could easily, mistakenly ask for a copy edit when you were really hoping to have someone look at the overall structure of your writing. Because of this confusion, the copy editor will spend all of his or her time dissecting your document searching for grammar and spelling mistakes, instead of focusing on the organization of the content.
It might help to think about substantive editing, copy editing, and proofreading as different parts of the publishing process. When a writer submits an unedited manuscript, the substantive editor will work with the author to reorganize the content. Then the manuscript is sent to the copy editor who needs to examine the document carefully, looking for issues with grammar, spelling, punctuation, and style. Next, the document is sent to the designer who formats the text. The proofreader receives the designed “proof” and goes through everything once more, this time looking for typographical errors and any mistakes that may have been missed previously.
I even did not mention the foreign translations… You know how I cringe when I notice that an author does not make any effort to make sure the translation is correct. Yes… I met a couple of “I AM a published author, therefore I-am-better-than-you” and a a couple that were devastated to notice that the release was already out… although authors, don’t you have in hand the FINAL VERSION when it is published? Don’t you check the FINAL edits? After all, it is your new born baby no?
I understand it hurts to be told that the edits sucks but pride should be put aside because in the long run, it is the reputation and how you will grow in the market. Again, readers are not fools. They may buy once, MAYBE give you a second chance but hardly a third one.
I went thru a huge amount of sites and blogs about this topic. I wanted to learn the process and make sure my ramblings were not misplaced. I found many interesting places that I posted the links on my facebook page. An author mentioned that considering the cost, it is very difficult to deliver the flawless final copy. I understand the costs but for me this is no excuse. As I said, if an employee does not do his job correctly, he will be fired. He may have a second chance but repeats will end to the same result: he will be replaced by another employee. And guess what? same with authors! If the quality is not there, very likely this author will loose fans and they will move on to the hundred that are out there delivering the same genre they like to read.
I also understand that many authors are self-publishing because it is way more profitable and there is a reason for that: the covers are often self-made, no copyeditor, no proofreader, no marketing, no agent, etc. Many authors would not be published unless they took their destiny in their own hands. But how many are on the top USA chart today? Not saying they are not good. On contrary, I found that many self-published authors were even better (in the edits area) than authors associated with publisher names. To be contracted with a publisher is definitely NOT a synonym of quality, that is a fact!
However, please keep in mind that I do not finger point to all the authors and publishers!!! Just some… just enough that lately it became a bitter taste when reading a story. I know also MANY great authors, self-published or not. I am not starting a war to every authors/publishers on the planet! Are we clear here? 😛
So what do I want? I do not expect perfection. I expect to read a story that typos and grammar will not become a burden and disrupts the flow of the romance. That’s what I am asking. I am asking more vigilance and care and make sure that authors have a final say before it is published because it is THEIR name on the book.
Am I entitled to ramble about poor quality? I think so. I did not pay for vintage but for new mint condition dammit!.
Note to publishers: if your customers are unhappy and complain about bad edits, DO something! Time to fire or recycle your staff or even hire a professional not a part-time overloaded person that rush the edits. Time to question yourselves in many aspects and the consequences about poor editing.
ETA: because Penny (comment) mentioned that sometimes it is the author that does not want to cooperate. I will add that it is the publisher’s responsibility to accept to still publish even though against the editor’s recommendation. Then there is a huge red flag of non-professionalism not from the editors but from the CEO publisher, not saying about the authors that disrespect their fans by this careless attitude. I HOPE this is only exceptional…
Conclusion: Thank you to be careful about what you are publishing, PLEASE!