This week I’ve had a steady trickle of paid downloads of ‘Show Her’, so I’m pretty happy about that.
Now, I’ve turned more of my attention towards my poetry collection and my next two novels. I probably should just concentrate on one thing at a time, but that’s just really hard for me. I can focus on one thing for about a day, but multiple things for an indefinite amount of time. Weird.
I’m on the brink of plotting out my storylines for ‘Drop Sane’ (the story I’ve been notebooking for the past couple of weeks). I really didn’t believe that a story with a social worker as a protagonist would go very well if there weren’t orphans involved, so I’m pretty proud of myself for turning the idea into something that isn’t a total snore.
I was talking to a fellow author (who works at the same social work agency that I do), we’ll call him ‘JaVon’ about paying someone to edit his work.
I’ve heard many an argument from different people going back and forth on this subject. Personally, I kind of accidentally noticed that I’m a pretty good literary editor (well, when it comes to grammar and the like) compared to some of the (allegedly) professionally edited literature I’ve seen on the shelves of libraries and bookstores.
I distinctly remember the first time I ever actually refused to read the remainder of a novel was because, within the first 2 chapters mind you, the author misspelled six words and used the word ‘black’ at least a dozen times. Now, I can take the misspellings from time to time throughout a piece—I’m just patient like that J. However, not being able to get through the first 40 pages without becoming so frustrated with it that I put the book down is unacceptable.
Now, this may just be me, but I also cannot stand when authors use the exact same adjectives repeatedly. I’m not sure if this is some deep, psychosocial trauma that can be traced back to my childhood, but I know that the fury I feel when I see it is very real. ‘Black’ (the way this author was using it) could have been ‘sable’, ‘dark’, or ‘shady’, or even some more creative compounds like ‘crow-colored’ or ‘coal-tinted’ could have been used.
Anyhow, back to the topic at hand: Should JaVon pay someone to copyedit his work when he, I, and a couple of his family members will gladly look it over and give him (relatively) objective feedback for free?
Of course, my “energy efficient” side says ‘no’. It’s too much work, time, and money, and copy editors are human beings just like anybody else. Besides having a slightly elevated understanding of grammatical rules than some of the public at large, are they really worth spending $100’s of dollars on, when they will end up giving you what a few literarily-minded people could, would, and are giving you for absolutely free?
Flip-side: They may have a more objective approach, especially compared to giving your work to family members. Sometimes emotions and communication patterns can get in the way of grooming a piece to be published for mass consumption. Just because you and your mother always called a vagina a ‘tutu’, doesn’t mean that the rest of the world can relate to that, or that it truly makes sense to include in your story. However, your mother might read right along without a care in the world because she "speaks you language", if you will.
For example, I have a younger cousin in my family who loves to write (just like me!) and for years she always told me that she wrote, but was always shy about showing me her work. Suddenly, as a senior in high school, she finally came to me with a story. I read it. It was…not so awesome. The plot itself was wonderful! Very imaginative and action-packed. However, her delivery was way off. Her major issue was telling what happened instead of showing what happened. Now, in thirty minutes, I was able to steer her in a direction that lead her to rewrite the story in a much more (in my opinion) palatable manner.
When she handed me the rewrite, I was thrilled. “Yes,” I said “this is exactly as I would imagine it on a Kindle. Good work!”
Though I had assumed that she hadn’t let anyone read her stories, it turned out that she had, but that everyone was telling her that her stories were "great", "perfect", "wonderful". I expressed to her that I could understand why some close friends and family members might say things like that, even if they don’t really mean them. It can be hard to tell someone the truth when it doesn’t seem very positive. But I, as a family member that appreciated her and the art of literary expression, would never lie, hide, or euphemize my thoughts on her work because I wanted her to be aware of what I was seeing as a reader, so that she could make changes as an author. That is, if she wanted to. After all, I am also a mere mortal, and everything that I say is an opinion and a suggestion, so she doesn’t have to make any changes that may jeopardize her comfort with and/or pride in what she publishes.
So, I guess that whole decision is a judgment call for each author. So far, JaVon has worked with a publisher who (allegedly) has JaVon’s work edited (by somebody *shoulder shrug *) before the novel is published. Yet, the last book that this publisher put out for JaVon was saturated with spelling errors, grammatical errors, plotline inconsistencies, and other annoyances. So, of course, I offered up my services for, not only a rewrite of the first novel, but the manuscript for his next novel. I’m on the job once he finishes writing. EX-CI-TED!!!!
Just because it bugged me, I’ll also let you know that JaVon’s publisher has set a release date for a piece that JaVon hasn’t seen since he submitted it. So, he hasn’t had a chance to review, revise, or send back any edits for them to make in the final copy, but his publisher wants to release some time around next month. Crazy.