Kindle Self Publishers, Listen Up
Kindle is a boon to authors (and readers of authors), but in our rush to self-publish, we skip a step.
Really Good Writing Demands Editing
Editors abound in mainstream publishing; not so much with Kindle Self Publishers.
Mainstream publishing has editors for a reason – and that reason is authors think that their work, the words they labored so hard for, revised so intently, and love like children, shouldn’t be questioned, touched, or God forbid, stricken from their work.
Not just new authors. Anne Rice of vampire fame decided she didn’t need input on her work. Her decision-making process in her words:
After the publication of the The Queen of the Damned, I requested of my editor that she not give me anymore comments. I resolved to hand in the manuscripts when they were finished. And asked that she accept them as they were. She was very reluctant, feeling that her input had value, but she agreed to my wishes. I asked this due to my highly critical relationship with my work and my intense evolutionary work on every sentence in the work, my feeling for the rhythm of the phrase and the unfolding of the plot and the character development. I felt that I could not bring to perfection what I saw unless I did it alone. In othe[r] (sic) words, what I had to offer had to be offered in isolation. So all novels published after The Queen of the Damned were written by me in this pure fashion, my editor thereafter functioning as my mentor and guardian.
This goes on and on …. but you get the picture.
After getting some rough reviews on Amazon.com, Anne Rice posted a 1200 word rebuttal saying she had “no intention of allowing an editor ever to distort, cut or otherwise mutilate” her sentences. Public opinion dares to disagree. Most people find her unedited work too wordy, rambling, and difficult to finish.
Sort of like that paragraph from her blog.
Hemingway. Fitzgerald. We want to be them.
Our goals for writing are varied, but I don’t think many authors want to produce froth. In our zeal to turn a memorable phrase, we forget that the masters were economical with words. Spare.
“No Pilar,” Agustin said. “You are not smart. You are brave. You are loyal. You have decision. You have intuition. Much decision and much heart. But you are not smart.”
― Ernest Hemingway, For Whom The Bell Tolls
Tight. Crisp. Beautiful.
“I couldn’t forgive him or like him, but I saw that what he had done was, to him, entirely justified. It was all very careless and confused. They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
His sentences are imperfect, but his voice, his storytelling, is clean and clear.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Editor, Andrew Turnbull (Collected Letters) had this to say about Fitzgerald’s writing: “Fitzgerald was a lamentable speller. Following his ear, he habitually made such slips as “definate” and “critisism”, and proper names were his downfall. Fitzgerald frequently addressed his best friend, Ernest Hemingway, as ‘Ernest Hemmingway’ or even ‘Earnest Hemminway’.”
Which Brings Us to Spelling
The eye sees what the mind expects to see. When we’ve worked over a piece of prose, we know what we want it to say and our mind will oblige us with a perfect view. We overlook our misspelled words, incorrect contractions, improper tense. Things that make us look unprofessional.
A fresh eye, trained to write and punctuate will catch those grammar school errors and save us from ourselves.
If for no other reason than the words spell check didn’t find because they were the wrong word, spelled properly, every author needs an editor.
So, get an editor. Before everyone sees those typos on their Kindle.