Even Good Writers Need Editors

Thousands of free books are offered each day on Amazon.  Ever since I uploaded my two novels on Kindle, I, too have offered my books gratis on selected days.  What’s more, I’ve taken advantage of other free books to download and read on my Kindle.

Here’s what I’ve discovered.  There are many good writers who are self-publishing.  Often, their books are free on Amazon and other sites every day.  They give away their books because they hope to gain an audience.  When they establish a following for their “indie” (i.e. self-published) book, they hope to be offered a contract by a traditional publisher, and/or to gain enough of a following to enable them to sell future books.  Some authors accomplish these goals.  Many do not, and I think I know why.

There are too many self-published authors who have not had independent editing of their books.  They may be good writers, and have probably been told they’re good writers, but the problems in their books are manifold.  They are inconsistent with verb tenses; they have poor transitions; they meander; their books are too long; they have characters or events that do not advance the story; their characters all have names so similar that it’s a task to keep them straight.

I recently read a book that started off well enough, but then devolved.  There were sections that involved travel by the main character, but the travel was more a sight-seeing check list than a plot device.  My impression was that the author wanted to go to exotic vacation spots and write off the trips as a business expense on her tax returns. Boy, did she need editing!  I couldn’t wait for the book to finally end.  It was at least 75 pages too long.

If you’ve read my previous blog entries, you know that my books were initially published in hard cover by Little, Brown, then in paper by Warner.  My editor at Little, Brown said she loved my books, and I was offered a two-book hard/paper contract.  Despite that, when she returned my manuscripts to me for re-writes, there were notes on at least a quarter of the books’ pages.  I had to cut length, I had to explain the presence of certain characters, and I had to re-write many scenes.  After my editor approved the changes, my books went to a copy editor, who checked grammar, word usage, and sentence structure.

My advice to indie authors:  pay someone to edit your book.  As for me, I’ve pretty much stopped reading many free books after just a few pages.  So far, too many of them make me cringe.  Even good writers need good editors; bad writers need them even more.

To purchase my books http://www.amazon.com/Nicole-McGehee/e/B001KDDEG8










6 thoughts on “Even Good Writers Need Editors

  1. nicolemcgehee Post author

    Both the novice indie and the sought-after bestseller seem to often overlook editing. Donna Tartt, #1 with Goldfinch, could’ve been 100 pages shorter. Seems like best-selling authors know they can say, “take it or I’ll go elsewhere.”

  2. Julie Cunningham

    How do you know who is a reputable Editor … just as there are good and bad writers it would follow there are good and bad Editors. For new writers trying to be heard how do they know who/where to go and trust?

  3. nicolemcgehee Post author

    I don’t know because I was edited at the publisher Little, Brown. If it were me, I’d find one who worked for a major publisher editing my genre.

  4. nicolemcgehee Post author

    Way to go! So often I see writers declare that by self-publishing they don’t have to “subject” themselves to cuts or any other compromises.

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