Guest post by ML Gammella
November is such a great time.
Then… December happens, which makes me want to scream and shout, so instead I’ll rant *cough* express my opinion here.
I love NaNoWriMo and think it is an absolutely great program. It brings so many novice and experienced writers together for one common goal. There is so much love and support to get the sometimes elusive 50,000 words. We all write together during word sprints, write-ins, Skype calls, whatever works to get to the finish line, all while helping and encouraging one another.
For some, NaNo is just something fun to do to see if he or she can actually write 50,000 words in a month. For others, this is a step toward a writing career or a continuation of a writing career. My rant is geared at those people, like myself, who hope and dream of seeing the words they create released to the masses as published authors.
We all know that what we write during NaNo isn’t ready, not by far, for public dissemination. It is hastily written with grammar rules thrown to the wayside, all in an effort to drill away to 50,000 words. It is the time after NaNo that we are supposed to go through and heavily prune those hastily written words to mine the gold that lies within.
That time starts in December, and for most, last for many months (even years!) afterward. We madly delve into our stories, crying over awesome scenes that need to be cut to keep the integrity of the story or to eliminate unnecessary plot holes. Slowly, the story begins to take shape, and yet, still, our stories aren’t perfect.
Yet, around this time of mid-December to January, I start to see announcements by my fellow Nano writers that their self-published novels are available for purchase on Amazon, Smashwords, Createspace, Barnes & Noble, etc.
Wait, what? So quickly?
I have nothing against self-publishing, but I have read MANY a self-published novel and wished I hadn’t. The author was in such a rush to publish that he or she didn’t take their time to make sure it was edited properly. Now, I’m not just talking about grammar issues, but content ones as well. I can overlook a few grammar mistakes, but content or continuity errors create problems. You can get lost in plot holes big enough for my truck-driving husband to drive his 53’ tractor trailer through. No joke.
There are some really great stories out there, written by some really talented writers, but those stories are lost due to lack of editing (or lack of good editing), whether it be strictly grammar/structure or also content.
I cannot comprehend why anyone who wants to be a serious published author would even remotely consider releasing a book without proper editing.
Proper editing is just not having your friend read it and mark it up (even if your friend is an editor by trade or is a teacher or someone that is ‘in the business’). Proper editing is not just having a trusted beta reader (or readers) look through it and mark it up. Those are steps to proper editing but should not, should NEVER, be the last step before a book is published. Your friend will not be as honest with you as he or she should be, even if they swear that he or she will be brutally honest. It just doesn’t work that way. Beta readers are awesome resources, but they tend to catch the content issues, not the structure or grammar problems.
Proper editing involves hiring a third party, a professional editor, to thoroughly read through your book. Yes, professional editors can be expensive. So can cars. Shop around. You don’t buy the first car you see, do you? Treat editors the same way. Talk to them, find out their prices, their turnaround time. Develop a rapport. A great editor is worth his or her weight in gold.
I can’t say this enough. If you are a writer and you want to be taken seriously, if you want your books to be enjoyed, and if you want to make a career out of writing…
HIRE AN EDITOR.
I was amazed to see fellow Nano writers proudly proclaim that their book was published and ready for purchase. Wait – the book you just banged out in 30 days with no concern on grammar or editing, you only took a few weeks or a month to edit and you think it’s ready?
It’s practices like this that make readers hesitant to buy self-published books. I’m a reader and a writer, and I will no longer buy self-published books unless they are referred to me by someone else besides the author. I have bought or read too many and have been horrified over the lack of care taken. If you won’t take your work seriously, why should I waste my time reading it?
Have respect for yourself and your writing and have your work professionally edited. Your readers will appreciate it.
M L Gammella has been writing on and off since high school, where she was often found scribbling in her notebook instead of following along in class. She finally made the leap to make writing a paying career and began freelancing after being laid off. M L Gammella lives in Ohio with her husband and their three pets. She is currently working on her first novel, a paranormal suspense based in Maine. You can follow her on Twitter@MLGammella.