Top 5 Ways Authors Sabotage Their Own Book

POSTED ON Oct 20, 2014

Joel Friedlander

Written by Joel Friedlander

Home > Blog > Editorial, Self-Publishing > Top 5 Ways Authors Sabotage Their Own Book

by Shayla Eaton (@CuriouserEdit)

Over the years The Book Designer has featured guest articles by authors, designers, marketing pros, and many others in the field of self-publishing. But more than any other people involved in publishing, we’ve featured editors.

The reason for this is that editing is crucial to self-publishers, and should be the number 1 priority on an author’s list when they start thinking about getting a book ready for publication. Nothing will prejudice readers against your book—except for a boring book, that is—than a sloppy presentation or worse, a completely unedited one.

Today Shayla Eaton looks at some of the attitudes that cause authors to hurt their own prospects by trying to avoid the editing process, or by rationalizing it away. Here’s her article.

Authors work hard—there’s no doubt about that. They get up early and stay up late. They drink copious amounts of caffeine to break out just one hundred more words. They dream about their characters and create marvelous worlds for their readers. Some dedicate their lives to writing their novels.

So why do so many authors work so hard only to sabotage their books by neglecting to hire a professional editor?

Here are some common answers:

  1. “Professional editors are expensive.”
  2. “An editor will butcher my unique voice.”
  3. “How will I know if my book is properly edited?”
  4. “I used an editor once, and my book had errors. I won’t do that again.”
  5. “I edited my book myself, so I don’t need an editor.”

These notions are all false. Whether you’ve decided to pursue self-publishing or if you’re gearing up to submit your manuscript to an agent or publisher, your book must be professionally edited. Without a polished manuscript, poor Amazon reviews will saturate your feed, publishers will toss your book in the “no” pile, and agents will groan just a little louder.

Let’s counter these misconceptions of hiring a professional editor, shall we?

1. “Professional editors are expensive.”

Have you ever attended a wedding for which the bride and groom opted to have their unskilled family member photograph their wedding, only to receive shoddy photos? Perhaps you’ve actually experienced this firsthand. Hiring a professional photographer can take your wedding scene from “pretty” to “jaw-dropping.”

And an editor can take your good book and turn it into a masterpiece. Just as in hiring a skilled photographer, contracting with a knowledgeable editor is an investment. You’re paying someone to help make your book the best that it can be.

2. “An editor will butcher my unique voice.”

A professionally trained editor knows how important it is to maintain the author’s unique voice. Any revisions three words or over will prompt the editor to make a comment for the author to address. A great editor cares about you as much as she cares about your book.

3. “How will I know if my book is properly edited?”

Check the editor’s references or read the testimonials on his website. See what other people are saying. Ask for a before-and-after. A successful editor will happily show you the results from the first draft to the last. Look at the editor’s own work. If you can spot errors, try broadening your search.

4. “I used an editor once, and my book has errors. I won’t do that again.”

For an editor to claim that he can edit a manuscript to perfection means that there are no errors, which is unfeasible. And for an author to assume his book should be error free is improbable. We are not perfect human beings, so to create a perfect (error-free) manuscript is impossible. Pick up any bestseller in your local bookstore, and I promise you’ll find errors.

5. “I edited the book myself, so I don’t need an editor.”

This is probably the most used excuse—as well as the most detrimental to an author’s book. We cannot be objective with our own writing. You could edit the same page over and over and still miss errors. Your brain will tell you a word is there that isn’t. Even editors need editors.

When authors use these excuses, they welcome sabotage to their own work. If you hired an editor, what would those Amazon reviews look like? What would your agent say? Would your book go from the “no” pile to the “yes” pile?

If you, as an author, spent all that time creating something that means so much to you, wouldn’t you want to give it the finishing touch it deserves?

Shayla Eaton headshotShayla Eaton is a connoisseur of the writing and editing process, having edited over 150 books and countless articles, blogs, social media posts, and marketing campaigns. She operates her own business at Curiouser Editing. Shayla loves coffee and is an admirer of all things artsy, creative, and bookish.


Joel Friedlander

Written by
Joel Friedlander

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