Monday, July 21, 2014

What Editing?

Like it or not, the publishing world has changed. Traditional publishers say they offer still value, such as editing, but do they really?

The last three books I've read that were traditionally published have not been edited. If it wasn't for the skill of these three writers, the tomes I bought would have been thrown across the room. I'm not going to name names because I actually respect the three writers in question, and it was very obvious that somebody at the publisher dropped the ball.

1) Last winter, I bought the e-book edition of a hardcover I purchased nearly fifteen years ago. It was one of those literary books I like to re-read occasional because I always discover something new in this writer's work that I missed the first time.

Except this time the discovery was so many typos! Which means the publisher scanned the original hardcopy with some sucky OCR software and didn't bother to double-check it before offering it for sale.

Dear Publisher: Lazy. Lazy. Lazy.

2) I bought the latest hardcover of one of my favorite authors last year, and finally carved some time to read it. This author has a known reading disorder so you'd think his publisher would make an extra effort on his books. Nope, not a chance, or at least, not this time. Read on his blog recently that he's paying for an editor out of his own pocket because he got skewered in reviews for the typos.

Dear Publisher: Charging $30 for a hardcover with that many typos makes you look bad to other writers, not just to readers. Very, very bad.

3) A week ago Sunday, I broke down and bought the latest mmpb of a series I absolutely adore. Started reading it last night in a minor celebration of getting some house painting accomplished this week. Page 69, heroine at restaurant drinking hot chocolate. Page 70, heroine still drinking hot chocolate. Page 71, heroine abandons her coffee to confront bad guy.

WTF? This gal rarely does coffee, and only when she's desperate and no other caffeine is available. Went back to the beginning of the scene. Yep, heroine definitely ordered hot chocolate and waitress delivered said hot chocolate.

It'll be interesting to see if there are any more copyediting mistakes along the same lines.

Dear Publisher: Let me guess. That thing in the Bible about Jesus turning water into wine was a typo your copyeditor missed, wasn't it?

Lesson of the Day: If you want a contract with a traditional publisher because you think you're precious baby will be edited, think again. Two of the writers I mentioned above have been NYT best-selling authors for more than two decades. If they can't get their publishers' time and concern over their books, what makes you think those publishers will give a rat's ass over a newbie like you?


  1. What book was it where the horse was killed, but by the end of the book, the character rode off on said horse?

    1. Oh yeah, it was popular back in the day as an example of editing. I'll have to ask Tim later what the book was.