Friday, October 02, 2009

A quick note about my co-editor...

Hello, dear readers,

I just wanted to respond to one thing I read in the comments over at Teleread about Brian's perceptive and honest post here on self-published ebooks and the possible disappearance of editorial work in the process of making said ebooks.

1) Brian is not a "disgruntled editor." If anyone here at SofB is, it's definitely me.

To be honest, I think Brian didn't go far enough. Let's be honest...when was the last time that you bought a self-published book? I haven't. I don't know if Brian has or not but I seriously doubt it. Writing, like baseball, is hard. If it were easy, everyone would do it. As Noel Griese wrote in those Teleread comments:
There’s a simple reason why most self-published books are bad. As Malcolm Gladwell points out in the Outliers, it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at anything – playing a violin, playing professional sports, writing a book. Most of the amateurs who self-publish have come nowhere close to paying their dues as authors.
Those who succeed at it have always-ALWAYS-had a professional editor at their side. Period.

As for copyeditors? I agree with what Shakespeare initially wrote in Henry VI before he changed it to lawyers: "First thing we do, let's kill all the copyeditors."

Who says blogs can't generate excitement?

- Christopher


Jon said...

What makes self-publishing and working with a good editor mutually exclusive?

Christopher said...


It seems we just simply disagree here. I appreciate the notion that one can find a great editor in the self-publishing world, but the preponderance of the evidence just doesn't support your position. Sorry. This can't be a shock to you? There is such a thing as a institutional, professional class...and that doesn't make one an elitist.

Brian said...

I would say that a book can be edited by a freelance developmental editor and self-published, but whose vision is that editor true to? Where is the editor's loyalty? To the book, sure, but ultimately to the author. That's a pretty tight circle. If that editor has larger interests in mind - say, the interests of a publishing house - it is my guess that s/he will do better editing. I believe a freelance/self-published pairing can work, but it's rare. And it's also worth noting that chances are, the author picked the editor rather than vice versa, and that too impacts the quality of the product. The editor is for hire.

And I would like to point out that I don't believe we should get rid of copyeditors. They have saved my hide and the hides of my authors many times!

Jon said...

Hey, I never said anything about elitism. And sure, the majority of really good editors probably do work for big publishing companies. But I think the ideas that ALL of them do, and that this can never change, are just not true.

For example, offers editing services. I have no idea how good they are, or what percentage of Lulu's self-publishers use them. But the editors COULD be very good, and self-publishers COULD use them. If this isn't the case, it's really Lulu's failure, not the failure of the concept of a professionally edited self-published novel.