Don’t Let Poor Editing Ruin Your Novel

The other week on Facebook, an author posed this question to her friends: ‘While I know both are very important, if you could only choose one which would it be—a professional editor or a graphic designer?’

For some this could be a challenging question, but her friends got it right.  While the importance of an attractive and eye-catching cover cannot be dismissed editing can really ‘make or break’ you as an author.

Think of this way, whose name is on the book?  That’s right.  Your product, your book, has your name—and your reputation—riding on it.  Notice that I termed your book as a product? That is the first key to success.  Writing is a business.

When you start out in the publishing world, everything can seem overwhelming.  By this point you should have established a following online via Twitter, Facebook, a blog, and possibly on other media sites such as Google+ and PinIt.

These networks afford you excellent opportunities and before you publish, you should make sure to take advantage of the resources it offers.  One is editors.

Maybe you’re of the thought process, ‘I’ve been through this book so many times, I know it’s perfect’, or ‘friends who have a keen eye have read it’?  Dangerous thinking.

It’s a fact the mind can take jumbled words and read a sentence as if it makes perfect sense.  This is a good comparison to what your manuscript starts looking like after you’ve read it numerous times.  You can’t detect errors right in front of you.

Now, if you think that’s scary, what about things you don’t even know about?  Unless you’re an expert in grammar, you can be certain you’re overlooking key changes.

What about punctuation?  Again, unless, you’re perfect (and an expert) you’re playing a high risk poker game.

The above are just a few reasons why every author needs an editor.  Here are a few more: repeated use of certain words or phrases, wordiness, plot holes, inconsistencies, and the list goes on.

So in answer to that author’s question, I agree with her friends’ comments.  If you can only afford one or the other—an editor or cover designer—first go with the editor.  (Or, if you’re able to stretch the budget a bit, my husband George Arnold of WGA Designs offers affordable pricing to my author friends.)

While the reader will rarely (if ever) criticize your book cover, bad reviews about editing will follow you.  Trust me; I learned this lesson the hard way.  Yes, and I’m admitting it so you can learn from me.  But I know I’m not alone in this area.  Like many others, I did go back and get all of my previously published books professionally edited, and I promise this: I will NEVER again release a book without it going through the professional editing gamut.

Even the traditional giants have errors in their books—and their work has passed through the hands of many editors.  Since there is no way we could ever afford that sort of attention to our work, is that an excuse not to worry about an editor?  Absolutely not! 

For one, the self-publishing community falls under enough criticism.  It’s rumor that ‘most authors don’t care’.  Let’s change that mentality around!  Take pride in your hard work and let it shine when you deliver it to the world.

Maybe you’re disheartened, because even after working arduously to ensure that your book is perfect, you’re reading it for the twelfth time (or more) and are still finding things.  Well, take heart. 

Here is one thing to remember: No one is perfect.  That doesn’t mean we stop trying.


If you noticed editing errors in this post, I apologize as I should have had at least two cups of coffee before starting. ;)  Please know I take great care with my books.  Happy writing, and happy reading.


  1. I read you all the way from Nigeria. Thank you very much for sharing your experience with me. Your comments were noted. God bless you.

    1. Wow, excellent. Thank you for your readership, Femi.


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