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Over the last month or so, I have been too unfocused to do any real writing. To clear my mind and focus my thoughts, I turned to reading. Between beta reading for fellow writers and reading a few self published novels, one thing became blatantly clear. A little editing can go a long way.
In a 2009 article entitled “The Importance of Editing Your Writing” the author explains why editing is so critical. Any author that wants to get published via traditional means, should already know that publishers look for work that is polished and well written. If you want a publishing company to take your work seriously, you need to not only captivate them with your story, but show them that you are serious about your work. Misspelled words and poor grammar send publishers a message that you are unprofessional.
Don’t think that editing is any less important if you intend to self publish your work. Although you may not be trying to woo a publisher, you still need to keep your readers in mind. Some readers are extremely adroit and will notice every mistake you make. This can lead to a frustrating reading experience that may cause the reader to stop reading and perhaps even be turned off from any of your future work based on this poor experience.
For those readers that are not as easily swayed by typos, it can still lead to a poor reading experience. Some readers use books to escape to far away worlds or to take a journey with the characters, focusing more on the entertainment factor. But if an author makes poor word choices or words are missing or misspelled, it can break the spell of the story as the reader tries to make sense of what is written. Even if the reader makes it through the story, they may be turned off from reading any more of your work.
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During my own recent experiences, I’ve been tripped up due to poor editing or a complete lack of editing. I could see the potential of some of the authors, but their rush to get their work published led to poor execution of their visions. Initially, although I knew I would need to edit my work, I thought that it would be something I could do myself. After seeing the short comings of not having work edited by an expert, I can now truly understand the value of paying for the service. Beta readers are great for giving feedback on plot points and character or world development, but for a truly polished novel, it is worth spending the money to have someone go over your work with a fine toothed comb.