This blog topic is probably a sensitive one. There are some people who feel very strongly about this, one way or another, and other people who don’t really consider it a hurdle. Regardless of which side of the fence you stand on the topic, it’s an important one in the world of self- publishing: Editing.
People who publish traditionally have the resources of their agents and publishers on their side. They are allowed access to professional editors – people who not only consider grammar and punctuation, but also syntax, context, and consistency of point of view. All the writer really has to do is write out a rough draft and the editor fills in the pieces for them. This may be an overstatement. I’ve never traditionally published anything, so I have no idea whether or not that’s entirely accurate. I’m sure there are varying degrees amongst the editing community.
As for us indie authors, there are resources that we can access. . .for a price. And if I had the money to hire a professional editor, I probably would. I would also be spending money to have someone else professionally market my work. But I don’t. Thus the idea behind this blog. I have several things going for me. 1) My degree was in English Education. That being said, I’ve always struggled with grammar. For one, I just don’t buy into it. It’s a list of rules along with a list of exceptions, with the ever present exception that if you have a creative reason for breaking a grammatical rule and you’re willing to debate it, then you’re allowed to break the rule. That was my professor’s logic. So. . .let me get this straight: there are rules, but for every rule there are also exceptions, which is usually a longer list than the rule itself, and if I have a creative and purposeful reason or breaking the rule, it’s okay. Right. Sure thing.
I realize that there are reasons for grammar rules. If no one used commas, chaos would ensue! There’d be misunderstandings galore! And no one would truly understand what the other person was really trying to say! But no one is getting arrested over these grammar rules, so let’s move on.
I also have a family member in the legal field who is fantastic at catching my grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes. After I’ve gone through my work until my head hurts, I pass it along to her and she goes through it once or twice.
I then pass my work to my husband who reads it for content. Does it make sense? Does the story flow? Is he confused about any part of it?
If you are very good at editing, you can do this whole process yourself. But here’s the problem with that. You know your intentions. You know what you MEANT to say. That doesn’t mean that someone else will understand your point. I get so caught up in my stories that I see connections between trains of thought that other people do not. So it’s nice to have my husband read it and say “Um. . .dear. . .I don’t get it. How did they get here?”
And really, the whole purpose behind editing your work is so that it’s clean and easy to read. Some readers get extremely aggravated by typos and it can ruin an entire story for them. So it’s important to make your work as clean and professional as you can.
Some authors think that typos in a self-published work make the entire author community look bad. I don’t buy into that. We don’t have access to the resources that we have. Some of us simply don’t have the money to hire a professional editor. And I don’t think that should mean that we’re not allowed to publish our work. However, as writers who are most likely also readers, we should have an idea of what good grammar and punctuation look like. And there are plenty of resources online that are free. If you’re confused about whether or not to use a comma, colon, or semi colon, Google it. Yes, I said it. Google it. Someone out there has asked the same question you have and the answer is within your reach. It might take a little time, but then you’ll know! So consider that at least. I spend a lot of time on dictionary.com and thesaurus.com. I’m not randomly pulling words to try to make myself sound smarter. I use a thesaurus when I can’t think of the word I want or when I’ve used a word too much. It’s usually pretty obvious when someone has used a thesaurus to try to make a sentence sound better – somehow it just doesn’t flow, and most people don’t talk or think like that.
Anyway, I hope this rambling has helped! I wish all of you the best of luck in your editing endeavors.