Sunday, June 17, 2012

Tip of the week: editing services, spot the unprofessional

I'm really pissed off. Yes, you gathered, this is a half-rant, turning into a tip. I just read the opening of a book which apparently has been edited by an editing & proofreading service. Now, I've seen post of the person behind that editing service who regularly leaves out the commas before names when addressing another person, which lead me to conclude the person doesn't know that there belongs a comma. And promptly, in said book, there are no commas before names in dialogue. That book also has an overuse on italics, almost every paragraph contained one -- to emphasise words, which is not wrong, but unnecessary and an editor should know that. I also found an incident of  'Running down the stairs, she pulled on her jeans.' Other situation, same principle. An editor should pick up on that and correct it. In addition to that I came across a lower case letter in direct speech when it should have been upper case, etc. Not happy, I'm not happy at all. You know why?
Because people have their doubts about my being able to edit their ms because I'm not an English native, while that editor is an English native and does it wrongly! I don't offer copy editing and proofing for that reason, I'm still learning, but I'm a damn good editor when it comes to story line and characters. And I know all the things listed above! There! I said it.

As you know I've been criticising self-published authors/books for a while because of the poor quality. A good quality book has everything correct: the characterisation, the story line, the pace and the grammar -- and that with consistency. With all the complaints left, right and centre from readers, authors finally realised they have to work harder and get outside help. But what use is an outside help if they just can't do the job properly? It doesn't help the reputation of self-published book either. The problem is, that everyone can call themselves an editor or proofreader. I did it, too. Editor, that is. But I know my limits and will not go beyond them. Others do and will announce they're proofreaders when in fact, they only spot some typos, but are clueless regarding the real proofreader's job. It angers me that those people take advantage of authors who don't know better.

My advice: learn as much as you can yourself. Let someone knowledgeable check the editor/proofreader, if they have done a good job. Or even better: test them beforehand. They should be able to correct all the things I've listed in the first paragraph. I have a feeling that most authors are just too lazy to learn the tools themselves, shrug it off, saying, but that's why I hire an editor/proofreader. To me, that's not the right way to go about it. The problem is that if you don't know how it's done right, you'll walk into the trap of paying money to an unprofessional. Plus, the more you know, the less an editor/proofreader has to do. Especially the latter should mainly pick up on a few typos or other errors you've made. The basics should be learned by the author and come as naturally as breathing while writing.

Here are some post I did in the past for you to learn the basics every author should know. That would sort out half the complaints readers make:

A rant about the impossible, authors, editors...

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