So, here's the thing! I just had a 2* review stating that one of my books contained 'poor grammar and sloppy editing'! I mean, who says things like that to an author with an ego as thin as tissue paper? I'm devastated, jaw-droppingly broken beyond repair - now I know how Humpty-Dumpty felt. Oh, it's not the first time such barbs have been thrown in my direction, but usually I comfort myself with the overwhelming messages of support. However, the cries for me to get an editor are a growing concern. Like most authors, I like to think I've given readers my best work, and when they say it's shoddy, and the mistakes detract from the reading experience... Well, one has to sit up and take notice - Is that a cliche? I hate cliches.
Traditionally published authors have the proofreading, editing, etc thrown in as part of the publishing deal. However, independent authors must pay for it themselves, and this is where the nub resides. Proofreading usually costs in the region of between £500 - £1,000 per 80,000-word book, and editing between £600 - £1,200. Now, we'll do a little math here: I have 14 novels, and if I had sent each one of them to a proofreader (let's ignore editing services - you can do the math yerselves for them) it would have cost me in the region of £10,500 (@ £750/book). Now, don't forget, I have to spend this money up front before I start raking in the trillion of £'s.
So, of course, I had this £10,500 lying around in a drawer just waiting for me to give it to a proofreader. Okay, so the book's ready, no mistakes - it's been proofread and cost me £750, so there'd better not be - but there are! (I kill the proofreader and get life imprisonment for murder!) Anyway, I upload my book and put an extortionate price on it of 75p (86p with VAT). Some simple math again: £750 divided by 0.75p = 1,000. I would have to sell 1,000 books before I actually started making any money on my magnus opus. Now, you're thinking, put a higher price on it! Yeah, I could do that, then no one would buy it, because in comparison to the other books it's too damned pricey - and don't forget - I'm not traditionally published therefore not a 'real author', so people expect to get indie books real cheap.
I'm getting bitter and twisted writing this, Toady! I mean, a reader pays 75p for an 80,000-word book, enjoys the story, but there are a few errors - we won't even talk about the errors in trad-pubbed books, which have been edited and proofread into the bargain - and then they say nasty things like, 'the sloppy editing spoiled my reading experience, I won't buy any more of this author's books!' I'm gutted. I mean, I spent 4 months writing a damned good novel, I then self-edited and self proofread because I object to paying £750+ (even if I had it) in the hope that I'm going to get it back in the distant future. All I can say is, I'll miss your 75p. If you're not magnanimous enough to think: 'Hey, that was a really good story. There were a few typos, the lady in black changed to the lady in red half way through, one of the characters got up and walked away after you'd killed him, and a few threads were left dangling - but can't wait for the sequel BTW', then really, your 75p would just turn my two other 75p's putrid and disgusting, so it's probably mutually agreeable that you don't buy any more of my books... Well, not if you don't want to anyway... Care for a cup of tea, Sir/Madam? A nice cream scone? Some strawberries...? Stop grovelling, Toady!
Not only that, I have people chewing their fingernails to the elbows waiting for the next installment of my roller-coaster of a series - How long does proofreading take? A couple of days, weeks, months? Now, I'm not saying proofreaders or editors wouldn't be a desirable addition to my writer's toolbox (Do writers have toolboxes? Maybe we're talking about a metaphorical toolbox! Or, it could be a spiritual or philosophical toolbox! I remember, when I left school, my second job (let's not talk about the first job) was building ambulances at Herbert Lomas & Sons on Wilmslow Road in Handforth - I was an Apprentice Vehicle Bodybuilder. I only mention this because I built myself a toolbox, and I fell in love with a girl who worked in the administration with blonde hair and freckles called Joyce. You're thinking, not another girl! Yeah, as I said in a previous blog, I was a serial faller-in-lover. So yeah, it'd be the bees knees to have an editor, coz then I could say things like, 'My editor just called...' or 'I've sent the MS to my editor...' People think you're a real writer when you have your own editor... All I've got is a red pen!
Many people (and I'm extremely humbled and grateful to those people) have been thrilled with my stories and have obviously forgiven the minor transgressions in terms of grammar, punctuation, and editing - I wonder if people say 'editing' when they really mean 'proofreading'? Anyway, don't think it doesn't concern me, but I'm not paying £750 per book for a professional to proofread my magnus opi (is opi the plural of opus? No, I don't know either! Except, could it be that a magnus opus will always be in the singular?) That's one thing about blogs, you can get away with murder! Maybe I should be writing my books as blogs, and then no one would care about the sloppy editing. But saying that - have you seen some of the lousy reviews free books get? I mean, what's that about? Have people got no morals? All this hassle! Retirement is meant to be quiet and peaceful isn't it? Maybe I should try knitting, or cross stitch - I'd probably need an editor then to check my 'one purl, two purl, over, up and unders' - Yeah - like writing - you've probably noticed that I know nothing about knitting either! Although, did I ever tell you about when my mum...
Hi, I'm Tim Ellis - I write a lot and I hope you enjoy what I write.