EDIT or be Damned (Disappointed)

Ailsa Abrahams

Prompted by the Ape’s war-cry about publishing I thought I would put this down clearly and concisely. Yes, it exists all over the internet but maybe we need to hone it down to one sentence.

You don’t get anything for nothing.

You’ve written your book and your family love it, well that’s great but before you go firing off letters to publishers and agents, take a deep breath and consider for one moment that … it may not be perfect. Shock, horror! What you have just produced is a first draft. It needs work, polishing, criticism.

Well of course you can’t be bothered with that because as any fool knows, any fool can publish a book for nothing on line these days. And only a fool would go ahead and do this without taking the necessary steps to ensure it might have a slight chance of success.

Your book needs edits, proof-reading and formatting if it is going to look at all professional and most of all it needs a good cover. No, I’m really sorry but that snap your cousin Joe took of Blackpool tower with a load of different fonts all over it will NOT do unless your cousin Joe is a professional photographer.

By all means call up favours. Ask published authors in your circle what their editors look for, what kind of corrections they’ve had to tackle. Do NOT try to correct your own work because your eyes will see what you thought you wrote “to go out” instead of what appears on the page “ to do out”. If you know a web designer or on-line artist who will give you mate’s rates, grab it with both hands and buy them a bouquet of flowers.

I’m saying this because I am a hard-faced bitch who is sick of looking at the tripe that is flung out for the public as self-published material…aren’t I? Well, erm, no, actually. I’m telling you this because I made this mistake once. Not only will your book bomb but the people who do see your name will remember it as a producer of dross (fortunately my first self-published effort was under a pen name, the late and un-lamented  Fanny Farquhar). So you can make your name unusable by rushing for Createspace before your embryo work has breathed its first cry.

Yes, if you work out the figures, self-publishing can bring you more money. After the initial outlay you will pocket all the profits and as all authors have to self-publicise these days, no matter how their work is produced, that amount of slog is a given. You’ll be doing that even if a publisher picks you up. I’ll tell you for nothing (no, this really is free) that all your efforts at self-publicity will be completely wasted if your book is scrappy because the most effective form of publicity is word-of-mouth and people tell each other if it’s no good.

Go forth from this place and edit!

Ailsa Abraham

(This was a very timely article, because, unknown to Ailsa, I have been in discussions with a Professional Editor, Susan Uttendorfsky, Owner of Adirondack Editing – Susan has kindly agreed to do a weekly series of articles about the importance of editing and why having an Editor is so necessary – the series starts tomorrow 12th November at 07:00 AM London, UK time and will appear on this blog every Tuesday until she drops with exhaustion, or, I forget to remit the agreed fee of NOT sending the chimps and their fleas round to her place – TSRA)


17 thoughts on “EDIT or be Damned (Disappointed)

  1. I’m an editor. I cannot edit my own work. It’s true. I see what I think I said. Spend the money on a professional edit. You’ll kick yourself up and down the stairs several times, if you skimp on this step.


  2. Well said, that lady. As many eyes as possible. There are people who enjoy stories and are blind to punctuation, and there are those who groan about commas, and then there are the grammar nuts. We need them all.

    And after all that – there is always a typo, or the lady who points out that King John was not the monarch who expelled England’s Jews . . . for her I brought out a second edition (and corrected the typo).



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