Write with an editorial eye
By Marcella Simmons
Editor/Publisher, Cahaba River Literary Journal
firstwriter.com – Thursday November 20, 2014
Before I even start telling you what you should do to become a better writer, let me tell you a story about my latest book project first, and why what I am about to say is so important. A writer needs to have an editorial eye, that sixth sense, that expertise to make that story, article or book as error-free as possible before submitting to any publisher. For one, no-one knows that work of art better than the writer. It takes more than once, more than twice, even more than ten times sometimes to produce a manuscript that is 100 per cent free of errors, typos, misspelled words, and unfinished sentences or paragraphs.
Recently I had a book published. I wrote it, rewrote it at least three times, edited and revised it at least five times, and the publisher hired an editor to revise and edit it, and then she returned it to me for further proofing before going to press with it that one last time.
I almost lost my publishing contact because I not only proofed it but rewrote two chapters in their entirety and added several pages to it in certain chapters. I edited it to the best of my ability, and hoped that it would get one final proofing before going to press. Months later, both my personal and professional experience as a reader and writer sent shivers up my spine in the first chapter when typos started cropping up. Where did that come from? Why wasn't it corrected? Looking back over my last corrected proof, the corrections were made on this end but apparently, the editor and the publisher overlooked them when I sent in the final copy.
I am ashamed to admit this is partly my fault. I saw errors on the website of the publisher before submitting my manuscript. Red flags soared in my head. It was not only my duty to have a manuscript that was next to perfect but my responsibility to do research on the publisher as well. My book as a whole is very good (toot my horn!).
But the errors inside it made me take a second look as I was reading and made me want to put it down. The reaction of my readers will be: why wasn't this book edited before it went to print? Why didn't the author proof it
Having said that, what's worse is that it will be on the market for five years before rights revert to me. I can't fix it for five years.
Remember, "as is" is never good enough. Losing a contract is not as bad as discrediting your writing ability and qualifications.
A writer needs to have an editorial eye, or a sixth sense to detect writing errors on their manuscript. Editors may detect most of it but those working under deadline and sheer pressure may not have the time to do their job efficiently. That's why it is our duty – our responsibility to edit, rewrite and edit some more until the manuscript is next to perfect. "As is" is unacceptable!
I can tell you one simple fact if you want to be a writer: when you write, make sure you edit and rewrite before submitting. The old adage that you can write something to death may be true but the truth that errors can kill your manuscript is even more true. Don't accept "as is" quality – it is not professional and will label you as sloppy and unprofessional. That is the best piece of writing advice you may get all day.
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About the Author
Marcella has over 650 published credits nationwide in hundreds of small press publications and newspapers. She is the Editor/Publisher of Cahaba River Literary Journal at http://cahabariverliteraryjournal.com/.
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