From Round File to Top of Pile: Who can benefit from editorial services?

by Julie Ricks.  In a word, EVERYONE.

In my previous incarnation as an office worker, I had many opportunities to review resumes, usually at the behest of my immediate supervisor. They would have me pare down the stack to eliminate those unqualified, or, in some cases, illiterate. I remember one resume that came on neon pink paper that was so bright it hurt the eyes to look at it, so I didn’t. Straight to the garbage. And the really bad ones? We passed them around and laughed at them. Really.

Clarity and quality still matter when submitting manuscripts or other written documents for possible publication even in the age of LOL, BTW, and TTYL.

And now, with the growth, no, explosion of e-books and the possibilities for self- or indie-publication, it is equally important that your novel or other book be professionally edited. Reviewers will note their unhappiness of the poor grammar, bad story structure, typos, or bad e-formatting in reviews of your book at e-tailers. They may not mention your book at all, which may, indeed, be quite a good story, but, instead, simply voice their opinion of how badly written the work is due to its overwhelming poor writing and other errors. And if you get too many of these? Buyers will be less inclined to buy your book.

Even if you know what you are doing, or are a writer, for example, it can’t hurt to hire a professional. Professional authors have editors; so do traditional publishers, magazines, newspapers and other publications. The editor’s job is to make sure that the author’s intent is coherent, clear, and correct. Whether you’re writing a sci-fi novel, a memoir, a how-to book, or even a resume or cover letter, a badly written work can keep you from getting the readers and buyers you want, need, and deserve. And in this Wild West of a changing publishing climate, everyone who has a story they’ve been thinking about is now writing a book they want to publish, and which they can self- or indie-publish easily; you can’t afford to be quickly dismissed. A free sample of your book, which most e-publishing e-tailers offer and is a great way to gain new readers—means your e-book or print book needs to be perfect and polished from beginning to end. You can’t miss a single opportunity to have your book considered, not overlooked because it is sloppy, typo-filled, badly formatted, the links don’t work, and so forth. It is too easy to simply press Delete.

I have been editing for years, both as an amateur and as a professional, and I always have my work reviewed by people I trust. Even my resume was reviewed by two friends, one with an MA and another with a PhD. The book I’ve been writing (of course I am!) will be edited by a professional at Lucky Bat Books. It’s worth it. The more time you spend with a document, the less obvious the problems become. Your brain will see them and think, “Oh, I’ve seen this before; I’m going to ignore it.” It’s similar to the way your nose will stop smelling something bad—like the dairy I lived near as a girl— within about two weeks, it recognizes the smell, and declines to inform your brain because it is overly familiar with the scent and files it away as previously handled.

Don’t let this happen to you: If your post-apocalyptic novel has its characters attaching sharp implements to “polls”; or you could feel the protagonist “stairing” at you; or “He said,” I would be delighted to come for diner; indeed, your readers will be laughing at you, not buying you[r works].

If you want that job, or lots of sales for your book or article, increase your chances of going to the top of the pile instead of the round file, and have your work edited. You’ll never regret it.

Oh, and this essay? It will be edited. You can count on it.

Julie Ricks is a Lucky Bat Books Project Manager, as well as a writer and editor with a passion for words; she’s a wrangler of book projects and nurturer of writers, and above all, a woman with a deep sense of humor and fun.