No matter how much they may tell you they are professionals…


… sooner or later, your editor will let you down!!!

Face it, some posing as editors only really care about how much money you are paying them. It is not until you become a writer yourself that you not only notice the errors that editors miss in any given book, but how many. I’m not just talking about incorrect spelling, but the use of totally incorrect words; things like missed spaces between a fullstop (period) and the capital letter of the next sentence, as well as either a lack of punctuation or far too much of it.

Let us also remember that some editors see nothing wrong with a book’s pages becoming nothing more than solid blocks of text with no break between paragraphs to make it easier to read. To give you another example, some editors in cahoots with certain publishers will plead the old chestnut of ‘house style’ as their excuse to cover a multitude of sins. Then there is the endless debate over which type of quotation marks they prefer – single, or double.

It matters little that the book you are reading was self-published, or produced by a small press or one of the traditional big five publishers. More and more these days, with each book I pick up, I’m finding endless errors, which any line editor worth their salt should have picked up on long before it even went to print. If they were threatened with the sack, or were told they would not be paid for allowing those annoying mistakes to slip by, maybe all editors would be more vigilant!

A chance would be a fine thing…

Before anyone posing as an editor who after reading this, has an attack of apoplectic rage brought on by what I’ve just said, if you are completely truthful, you know deep down that in all likelihood you have never ever handed back a totally error free manuscript for publication in your entire working life, due to time and business constraints. That being the case, the editor’s credo should always be more haste, less speed. Maybe you need to stop thinking about how many other writers are waiting for your services, along with how much money you charge and concentrate on presenting a quality product for publication instead. Especially if you want repeat work…

Why am I bringing this to your attention as editors and writers? Simple. When a member of the general public reads and reviews a book, their usually biased for or against opinion, which is all any review is when you think about it – someone’s opinion, won’t necessarily be about its content or subject matter. More than likely these days what it will be about are the mistakes the reader found, or thought they had.

Quite often anyone who is not an American writer will be taken to task for what some see as misspelt words. To them I will only say this – apart from the English sounding language peculiar to continental americans based on some long dead sixteenth century English dialects, there is also the original spoken here in the UK, together with Canadian, South African, New Zealand, Australian and Indian English. To my knowledge they are the main branches of the language. Each form of the language tends to spell some words differently.

Getting back to the general public – will they blame the publisher for any mistakes found in any given book? No. To the average reader, publishers and their editors don’t make mistakes, which is total baloney! They’re human just like the rest of us.

Instead you will find that to the reader’s way of thinking, the fault lies wholly with the writer. Once again many readers cannot seem to appreciate that all you did was write the damned story! It doesn’t occur to the idiots that you employed someone else to edit it for you. If you as the writer are to be blamed for anything, it’s thinking that once you have written the manuscript – that it’s job done. Wrong! Never let whoever is editing your MS get away with anything!  Don’t be frightened to pick them up on those inevitable mistakes. Like you they’re not infallible. Between the two of you, most errors should be eliminated.

Here’s a thought – if you want to improve your skills as a writer, learn to edit. While your at it, employ beta or copy readers. Personally I do both. With each book I write, the number of errors has dramatically reduced. For instance, my novella Cataclysm, literally only has one very minor error – a space between quotation marks and the first letter of the first word in a sentence. If I can do my level best to eliminate all errors as a self-published writer, so can the damned editor you are employing for money!!

Am I going to fix the tiny error? No. That way the author hating internet trolls, grammar nazis, literary snobs, and other assorted self proclaimed experts such as pedants and armchair critics will still be able to appear smug when writing their inevitable caustic reviews of it. You just can’t please people like that. So don’t even try. Don’t be put off over attempting to edit. It’s not that difficult. Like anything else, all it takes is time, patience and application, as well as a damned good command of the English language.

Remember this – It doesn’t matter what we do as writers, if we make use of professional support and it is less than satisfactory, we’re sunk!