You’re excited! You worked so hard writing and re-writing, trying your best to make your first self-published book perfect. You read, and re-read your book a million times, combing it for errors. You’ve even gotten your best friend who got straight A’s in English class in high school to proofread it for you. You finally publish your book and then…that dreaded comment, post or review pops its ugly head. “Hey do you know you have a lot of errors in your book?” Hearing those words can drive some crazy. As authors when we hear that, we forget about how talented we are and only focus on those flaws found in the book. Those flaws can be the difference of a 5 star rating and a 3 or 4 star rating.
My first book “Times Have Changed and Life is Strange” was a poetry book that I had been working on since High School. I’ve read and performed the poems so much that everything felt perfect. I was so excited to release a book that I cut corners. I used a vanity press to publish my first book, and they claimed to do a “Professional Edit” on my book for an extra charge. In reality, all they did was spell check. Shame on me for not checking the final draft before it went to print. I relied solely on the claim that they would “edit” my book. I didn’t take the time to read it over again before it went to print. Time passed. My book was finally online for sale. I convinced everyone I knew to support my book, but then the comments came. “Did you mean to say this?” My book was filled with errors.
Now you may be asking, “If you read and performed these poems a million times, why were there so many errors?” The reason, As a writer, we know what we want to say. When reading it to people sometimes our minds are so into what we mean to say, that we overlook things. These things happen. We can read our work a million times, but sometimes we are going to miss things because our eyes can skip over things. There are ways to improve on this. First step, read your work out loud. (reading your work out loud and performing it are totally different. Read your work as if you are the reader not the story teller) Another step, repetition. You can take breaks here and there with reading it, but continue to read your work. Your story is your legacy, don’t let it get tarnished with errors.
One of the most important things you must do as an author is find a credible editor. After two re-writes for my first book, I felt I learned my lesson the second time around. I searched online for an editor. I found one and spent a lot of money. I felt with the money I paid, I would have the perfect book. Wrong! When researching an editor, it is important to make sure that they read books in your genre. I can’t speak for all, but for some of them, if they aren’t interested in your genre you could receive a half hearted job when it comes to your edit. It doesn’t stop there. There are several types of editing. There are : Line editing, developmental editing, and content editing, to name a few. When finding an editor it’s up to you to know what type of editing you are looking for, what to expect, and which editing job you are paying for. I tried to take care of everything with one shot, and find one editor to do all of the edits, (This isn’t a total bad thing, it can be done) my mistake was my first editor didn’t read my genre. There was a little bit of a culture gap, and I feel that hurt the edit. Again, we live and we learn. My book was published, and while I had received good reviews, many reviewers had explained that they had given me a 4 instead of a 5 due to my edit. It sucks, and that hurt. I found another editor to fix the flaws. This editor read my genre, and kept an open dialogue with me. He explained what needed to be changed without hurting the flow of my book or making me feel uncomfortable or stupid. (Thanks J’son.)
Whew! This is a lot. Another piece of advice, don’t let your pride blind you. You have hired an editor for a reason. Sometimes revision is necessary, and we have to swallow our pride and accept it. A good editor has been doing their job for awhile, so they have experience and see flaws that we might not see. Also, you’re not off the hook after you found your editor. The book writing process is a big one. You also must find a credible proof reader. Like the author, sometimes after reading something over and over, even the editor might miss an error or two. It’s always good to get a fresh pair of eyes to give it an additional once over. (Thanks Penelope) Lastly, you as the author should read it over once the editor and proof readers have approved it. Remember this is your legacy. Take pride in your work. If you don’t care about what you’re putting out, you can’t expect readers to care about supporting your book. Your story can be great, but if your editing is flawed, it can cost you dearly. I’ve learned this lesson, and I hope everyone reading this will learn from my mistakes. You live. You learn. You improve. You evolve.
About the Author
Ben Burgess, Jr is the author of the new novel Monster and the author of the poetry book Times Have Changed and Life is Strange. He is an active performer of spoken word poetry. Ben Burgess, Jr uses his love of writing to inspire and influence youths to strive for what they believe in, and to never give up on their dreams.
His poetry book Times Have Changed and Life is Strange is currently used in two schools in the lower east side of Manhattan. Ben Burgess has a BA degree in Business Management, and a MA degree in Educational Leadership.
He is the proud father of his daughter Jaelynn and is active in trying to improve urban neighborhoods and communities.