Photo courtesy of: Articulate.com.
Have you ever read a book where a scene drags on… and on… and on… and despite its potential for exciting back story and juicy character development, it only manages to dump a truckload of confusing info on you? By the time you’ve finished it all, you can’t seem to remember how you got here or what you did to deserve this muddled mess of exposition. It sort of feels like a punishment, doesn’t it? So you take a break from the wall of text, skip ahead a few pages, and then discover that you’ve missed enough information to get completely lost in the plot. Do you have to go back and force yourself through it all again? Will you have to resort to taking notes to ensure that you understand everything?
This, my friends, is what I call the share-a-mony. Like a ceremony. But with TMI. (There’s really no good way of writing it, so I’m sorry about the awkward hyphens.)
I see it all too often in hastily written and usually self-published novels, many of which were never edited, not even for grammar and spelling. Alternatively, they may have been edited by an inexperienced set of eyes–a family member or close friend, perhaps, who really doesn’t know much about word flow or plot structure, which obviously isn’t good. But even worse, they don’t want to hurt your feelings. So they make a few polite suggestions, smile, and hand back a manuscript that is totally unfit for publishing. Usually, independent authors resort to this because they don’t have the money to pay for a professional editor, and they want to pump out work as quickly as possible to try to generate some interest and income. It makes sense, of course.
As an independent author myself, I really do understand the desire to put your work out there for everyone to enjoy. I do understand what it’s like to work with a small budget. But I’m going to let you in on a secret:
If you think your work is strong enough that you don’t need a professional editor, you’re wrong. Everyone needs an editor.
Plain and simple.
I don’t mean to sound rude or abrasive. On the contrary, I am just trying to cut straight to the point. I will repeat it again: Everyone needs editors. Stephen King needs an editor. Anne Rice needs an editor. Insert your favorite author’s name here. He or she needs an editor.
Hell, I could use an editor on this blog post to tell me to stop saying editor so many times. But joking aside, I want you, independent author, to make a pact with me right here. Right now.
Promise me that you’ll tell your friends, family, teacher, or well-trained parrot what a share-a-mony is. And when they read your manuscript to give you feedback, tell them to write it in big, fat red letters across that page. Better yet, hire a professional editor and they’ll tear apart that share-a-mony for you. You don’t want to publish your novel and make people fall victim to that torture, do you? Of course you don’t. You want to win fans, support yourself, and feel proud of your work.
So in order to achieve that kind of success, invest in an editor, or at least brief your beta readers about the disaster that is the share-a-mony and tell them to let you know if they come across it. Trust me, you’ll be ahead the game if you do.