Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Editors: They're not your maid, or your mommy.

I've heard this so many times from newbie authors that I decided to blog about it.

When you submit a manuscript to a publisher, guess what? You need to submit your POLISHED work.

"But...but...but...isn't that what they pay editors for?"

Well, sort of. An editor's job is to catch nitpicky typos, like misplaced/missing/extraneous commas, the odd mix-up of their/they're/there or something, catch misused words, and to guide a writer through story issues that might need to be addressed and changed.

However. If you can't be bothered to fix your dialog tags, or you can't be bothered to learn why you don't use apostrophes for plural forms, and you have multiple errors in every paragraph, then guess what?

That's NOT an editor's job to fix. That's when you need to hire an editor BEFORE you submit your work so they can correct things. Meaning you'll have to PAY them. Because you didn't bother learning how to do your job before you submitted something.

And guess what else? You need to LEARN from every edit.

As of this writing, I've got over forty-five books to my credit, and believe me, I STILL learn from every edit. Any author who says their writing is perfect and doesn't need editing is either 1) insane, 2) an asshole, 3) lying, or 4) an insane, lying asshole. Because any author worth their salt knows they never stop learning.

And if you think your work shouldn't be touched because it's your "art," then you're deluding yourself. Take your meds, you're overdue.

It is YOUR responsibility as the writer to learn your craft. Seriously. You wouldn't want to be sitting there on the operating table before they put you under just to hear your doctor say, "Oh, hey, I'm not real sure how this goes, but don't worry, my nurse will do clean-up for me." (Nothing against nurses, because believe me, I've known my fair share frequently more capable than the average doctor. LOL) But would you want your doctor saying that to you?

Then why on earth do you think it's okay to submit less than your best work to a publisher?

Why do you think the editor is supposed to do YOUR work for you?

YOU are the author. YOU are the one who should be working and learning and DOING this!

"Oh, but that's HARD WORK!"

Um, YEAH. Guess what? Writing isn't as easy as it looks! And if you are facing rejection after rejection after rejection, maybe, JUST maybe, you need to invest in an EDITOR to show you what you are doing wrong!

Yeah, that will cost you money. Because if you haven't done the work to learn the craft, you're going to have to pony up money in lieu of experience. Just like a DIYer will have to either pay a plumber to put the new kitchen faucet in, or they'll have to get off their lazy ass and learn how to do it themselves.

If you can't afford an editor, there are PLENTY of free critique groups out there. The best one is the Internet Writing Workshop: BUT, here's the caveat: they have a participation requirement. You'll have to critique other writers' works.

And guess what? In the process, as you do that, as you see how others critique you, as you see how others approach the same writing you're critiquing, you can LEARN. Because if you think you don't have anything to learn as a writer? Well...

*SNORT!* Then keep doing what you're doing, because it means you won't be selling much, if anything.


  1. Yep. I totally agree. Every piece I do, I try to make as polished as possible. Every time I get into trouble, it is usually a last minute rush job or something that I have managed to screw up by not combing through it enough.

    1. Yep, deadlines are my enemy for sure. LOL

  2. YES! This! So much this. I am so tired of wannabes thinking they are totally gifted because they "have a story to share," but disrespect books and authors and writing and language so much that they can't be bothered to learn how to write a proper freaking sentence. And I honestly thought I was alone in thinking they're crazy lying assholes, but I'm not alone! This makes me so happy. And relieved!

    It's rather liberating to know that I'm not an elitist writing snob because bad writing and ignorant wannabes are an insult to the craft of writing.

    Thank you!!

  3. What's hard is when you have an editor who doesn't help correct the mistakes. I'm not kidding when I say I had one round of edits with my first two books. Silly little things like fixing a misspelled word or adding/removing a comma. With my third book, I'm self-publishing and have a friend editing it for me. I've had two rounds of edits from her and we're working on our third. I've learned more from this book than I did the first two which were published with a small publisher.
    Luckily, I have a new editor who pushes me and shows me how to avoid certain problems in future books.

    1. I'll admit there are a few editors out there who don't know their job. I'll give you that.

      However, it still doesn't excuse the writers (since you've stated your willingness to learn you're not one of them LOL) who think they can disgorge a crapload of words from their butt and assume someone will clean it up for them later without them having to do the work.

  4. Lesli, the other thing I learned is if I am ever in doubt about something that I will ask your advice because I like that you are not afraid to "kick someone's ass" and tell them like it is....I love your snarky side

    1. LOL Well, I had plenty of mentors who weren't afraid to tell me the truth early on. And being a writer means needing a tough skin. Best newbies learn this early on, or they're facing a world of butthurt down the road. LOL

  5. Cue the brass band, see the standing ovation wherein this editor is screaming "BRAVO!!" loudest of all. Thank you, Les! This post is absolutely spot on!

  6. Thank you for this post. I'm going to link this post in a group where an author bitched about a reviewer picking on them for poor grammar or editing. She mentioned that this wasn't the author's fault. Instead, it was the editor's fault for screwing up. O_o

    1. Yeah, it's still the author's fault. I'm not saying all editors are perfect, I've had to head-butt with my share (things like wanting me to remove all contractions in dialogue, WHAT?), but authors need to pony up the skills and learn their job and DO it.