I haven’t been able to read as much lately as I normally do–my editing and writing time has seriously cut into my reading time. In fact, I haven’t written a book review in over a month. I do miss the long hours I used to spend reading, but lately I am lucky to read two or three pages before fall asleep. Thus I have been reading poetry and short fiction.
This is not because the books I intend to read are boring–they aren’t! It’s just that when I am editing for a client, I can’t disengage my mind from that mindset. This means I have a terrible time reading for pleasure. When I am in editing mode I notice things a casual reader might not, and I can’t just enjoy the book. And I am not talking indies here–I am talking books published by the Big 5 traditional publishers.
Sometimes the errors and flaws are hilarious though.
The thing is, errors do creep into even the most carefully examined texts and manuscripts. Usually, no one dies over it, however, in the case of the infamous Wicked Bible, the publishers paid a hefty price: Robert Barker and Martin Lucas, the royal printers in London, were called to the Star Chamber and fined £300 (£43,586 as of 2015) and deprived of their printing license. The Star Chamber, which held court from the late 15th century to the mid-17th century, was a branch of the English court of law and was established to ensure the fair enforcement of laws against socially and politically prominent people so powerful that ordinary courts would likely hesitate to convict them of their crimes.
Typos and editing mistakes are pretty much taken for granted when left in mass-market paperbacks by the Big 5 Publishers, but woe to the indie who neglects to notice a repeated ‘and’ or any other editing error.
Indies are held to a far more rigid code by most readers than the traditional publishers are because the internet is rife with disparaging rhetoric pointing the finger at indies. And while the Big 5 traditional publishers are just as guilty of rushing-to-publish crap, the truth is, many new self-published authors haven’t yet gotten the hang of the publishing business, and often their books are rife with things they will later wish they hadn’t rushed-to-publish.
Having learned my own lessons the hard way, besides working closely with a professional editor, I now have a reliable group of friends who comb my completed manuscripts for errors and gross cut-and-paste errors, and we can only hope we have caught them all. When you are an indie, it takes a village to help you get your book fit for the public to read.
Anyway–my editor’s hat is firmly on my head these days, and that means I can’t enjoy casual reading for a while more. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy my clients’ books–I love them. I’ve made it clear that I only accept work I feel a strong attachment to, but editing is a different mindset from casual reading, and I can’t just fall out of it at the end of the day. Yes, this greatly slows my own writing, because I am stupidly self-editing instead of just letting the words flow. When I am editing I am looking for all varieties of mistakes–not just structural, grammatical, and obvious punctuation errors. I am also looking for things that will interfere with formatting the final ms for upload to Kindle or Smashwords and I hope I find them all for my client, but it makes writing my own work difficult.
As an editor I do my best. But, nothing is ever sure, and I won’t see the ms after I send her the final suggested corrections. Mistakes can be made right up to the last minute while she is making those adjustments, so someone else will have to proof-read her work. The indie author has the responsibility for the final eye on his/her work. So when my client has finished her revisions, she will have her posse check the ms over for the slings and arrows of publishing fate.
I will be finished with my current editing project soon, and I plan to take a break from editing for a short while, when that happens. Then I will let my mindset slide back into the joy-of-reading mode.
I really do love to read–getting lost in a great book is the best thing I can think of, as comforting as a cute kitty purring, or my sister’s homemade chocolate truffles. I look forward to resting my editorial mind and over-indulging in the work of my many favorite authors.