Do You Really Need an Edit?

The answer is, of course, a resounding YES. And I’m not just saying that because I’m an editor.

Let’s explore this a little bit.

Your book represents you. You want people to buy it, and subsequently, any future books you write. Would you present yourself at a book signing in wrinkled clothing with splotches of last night’s dinner down the front? Of course not. So why present your book that way?

Your book is your baby. You’ve labored over it for months, maybe years. (Okay, maybe weeks if you’re one of those super fast wordsmiths who spew words like volcanoes spew lava.) Would you show your baby off in public with an aromatic poopy diaper and baby spit all over his/her onesie? Of course not. So why present your book that way?

You hope your book will garner you lots of fans that will follow you over hill, over dale, thorough brush, thorough brier, over park, over pale, thorough flood, thorough fire… okay, maybe not that far (thanks, Shakespeare), but you want those fans to wait impatiently for your next book. NEWSFLASH: They won’t if your book is full of errors.

I can see you shaking your head over there. Not you, right? That only happens to other authors.

C’mon. Sit down. Have a cup of tea.

Errors happen. As the author, you can’t always see the errors because you’re too close to it. It’s true. I write, and I don’t edit my own writing. I hand it off to someone else because I’m too close. Sure, I can find some of them. Most of them, even. But my brain makes me see what I expect to see there, not those pesky little errors that a fresh pair of eyes will catch in a nanosecond. And it’s not just typos. Are you sure you paid attention to every detail? Is your timeline right through your entire book? Or did you miss a detail here and there? Did Anne leave her hometown a month ago in chapter one and two months ago in chapter 18? Are Brian’s eyes blue on page 25 and brown on page 231?

Before you jump in and say that readers won’t care… they will. Sure, not every one of them will do anything about it, but some will ask for refunds. Ouch! Right in the pocketbook. Worse, some will write reviews. Lack of editing seems to be fair game for reviewers on Amazon. Don’t give them the fodder. Isn’t it hard enough to compete with the zillions of books out there without giving them reasons not to buy your book?

Seriously, are you willing to put your first impression on the line? Are you willing to get bad reviews due to something that was preventable, like editing? Is it worth the risk? Ultimately, this is a decision only you can make, but is it really necessary? You’ve invested the time in your book. You’ve invested something in the cover. You’re not going to invest in the rest of the package?

I understand budgets and the need to cut costs. But was it worth cutting the cost of editing if you don’t sell any books because readers are returning them and complaining about the editing (or lack thereof) in the reviews? I guess that’s up to you. But don’t you want to put your best book forward?