So I'm in the home stretch for "Fresh Ice." It's exciting. I've just ordered a whole pile of business cards with the title of the book, which means I can't change the title of the book, and I'm working with an artist for cover art.
And now, I'm editing. I'm going through all those pages of line edits my critique partner has been sending me to religiously, and I'm fixing the grammar and spelling and other issues that rough drafts tend to have.
But how important is all that, really?
Do readers really notice things like the odd spelling mistake or a grammar error?
One of the criticisms of the self pubbed and the e-pubbed is that the editing is not what it should be. I've heard people, and sure, many of them are folks who are trying to feel superior about NOT self publishing, say that the final product in a self published book is not a clean copy.
That may have been true in the early days of e-pubbing. And, I'm sure, that's true to a certain degree now. There will always be poorly written books. There will always be books where we shake our heads and say, "How on EARTH did this get published? This is crap!"
(What writers are really saying here is, "What do I gotta do to have a New York Times best seller?")
Anyway, I digress. Editing is, was, and always will be, important. Spell check is not the answer. Spell check is a good start. But if you are going to write, and if you are going to be serious about writing and publishing, whether you go to a traditional publisher, an e-first publisher, or self publish, you need to have a few editing tools:
1) A complete grasp of the language in which you are writing.
2) A good critique partner who has a complete grasp of the language in which you are writing.
3) Patience to line edit everything you write no matter where you are going to market it.
Line edits are a bore. When I was working with an editor over at The Wild Rose Press on Dream in Color, I was in a rush all the time to get edits done. The editor was none to pleased with me because I was not doing LINE EDITS. I feel terrible now, but at the time, I was a first time author eager to get my book out. I hadn't a clue what was involved.
With Lies in Chance partly because I knew I was doing this on my own, with the help of my critique partner, and partly because I'd been over the darn thing about a million times in 30 years, line editing was a bit easier, but still a challenge. (I maintain that "Lies" will always be my "Rose Red" the book was never finished. I could go in there now and completely change the plot, that's how much I love those characters.)
Now, line editing, no matter who is doing it, is not perfect. My father, and English teacher, found two spelling errors in Dream in Color. My coworker, a complete whackadoo, found five spelling errors in Lies in Chance. My mother found something grammatical wrong with Dream, but I forget what it was.
On the whole, I think most readers over look the odd error, or the dangling preposition. (No...Linda...I'm not going to dangle any prepositions on purpose! I promise!) I think some reader...some...are more critical when it comes to e-pubbed books, but I believe many of them are in the minority. Readers, true readers, want a good story and can be forgiving when it comes to structure if the story is solid and the mistakes aren't too glaring. (Change the color of the hero's eyes halfway through, however, and you're finished!)
So I'm off to line edit, fix, remove, and rebuild the smaller bits and pieces of the new novel. I'm excited because the next step is it goes to my reader, a woman who loves to read and will inform me if the mistakes are distracting. It's a big step in the life of a book, and it's one I'm eager to get to.
But first....I must read the book line, by line, by line.