Saturday, May 16, 2020

We All Have Problems--What Irks Me About Editing by Connie Vines #RoundRobin RR#84

 All books go through multiple edits. What have you learned are your problems, and what irks you about editing?

While writing my first two novels (yes, I write 2 or 3 novels at the same time), I belonged to a critique group. Fortunately, the members caught the usual problems:  Leaving out key items after several revisions:  either the heroine has new contact lenses, or I forgot I changed her eye color. I removed too many details, leaving my scene too lean; I added some many details, and reader is going to say, "get the point, already!"  

What I discovered on my own (I should keep this to myself because everyone will watch for my personal 'quirk'.), is that I bless my characters will my habits, repeatedly.

I like coffee.   

My hero and heroine like coffee.I realized several chapter openings had my hero and heroine; heroine and her best friend; or shoot, two strangers (I'm exaggerating here) are drinking coffee.  

When I brought this up to another published author friend, she grinned and said, "Oh, I never..."

I grinned.  She gasped, "What? What did you notice?"

"I doubt anyone else has ever noticed--I'm hyper vigilant because of the 'coffee thing'.  
Ah, you like to open chapters with the a weather reports. Not, like a televised weather report, but you know--."

"Yeah. Weather reports."

So, we all have our personal little repeats.  The trick is to catch them before they make it into print.  

What irks me about editing?  I'll break this down into two categories: my personal editing, and a publisher's editing.

I don't mind the first or send go-round of edits.  I know when a scene is too long/too short.  I can have another author read a chapter and tell me 'why it doesn't work'.  I fact check, run a grammar-punctuation program, I highlight areas I believe need more detail, I blue-line what I think needs to be removed. I make my changes.

Then I read the entire novel, again, before sending it to the publisher.

I receive an edited draft from the publisher.  I will make revisions (If I agree) and leave as is, if I don't.  I will usually explain why I'm not changing the word/ sentence the comment area.

The book comes back as a ARC/PDF copy.  I read this and notate errors (spacing/typos, etc.).

So, when this goes back to the publisher, there are no errors (though I admit I'm not perfect).

Now, I've worked as a acquisitions editor. I know how difficult it is to copy-edit hour after hour; day-after-day.

However, (this hasn't occurred with every publisher, or with every book) but. . .the book goes to print and I receive my copies for a scheduled signing.  I thumb through a book, skim the pages, mostly looking for page breaks etc.  They I see it: a typo, or a missing word, or a missing paragraph.  

Heart palpitations increase and my ears ring like church bells, as I grope for the arm of a chair and sit down.

In one book it wasn't too bad.  Only two problems: a missing sentence, and the intro to the hero.  My heroine said: "Hell", instead of, "Hello."

Aunt Linda At Her Finest" Art Print by hadleybobadly | Redbubble

With a former (now defunct) publisher, I wanted to sit down and cry.  The final 1/3 of the novel was one problem after another-- typos, missing words, extra spaces. Missing paragraphs! 

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Once a book goes to print, or is uploaded to an e-book retailer, it's too late to correct a problem.

You can complain to the publisher, you can state you won't work with the editor again, you can demand to know what exactly happened.  However, you are still the one dealing with the problem. 

Readers blame the author.  Reviewers, if they are kind (or know this 'quirk' is the publisher's major fault), will make a reference to address the' typos', but will still give you 4 out of five star review..

Reader Reviews will state it was a wonderful story.  Too bad the book had so many typos, missing words (whatever) making the story difficult to follow.

The only consolation, if there is a consolation in this--every author I know has a similar story to tell.

Is there a solution?

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Yes, you can prepare for battle.  It's not practical, nor am I leading the charge!

I'm going sit down to begin my next novel.

When my contract is up for renewal, I'll negotiation the corrections/changes. Or, if the gods have smiled upon me, the publisher will mention in passing, "Since you are submitting the 2nd, 5th, or 80th book in this series, we should go back and polish-up that first book to prepare for the expected uptick in sales."

After all, it's all about the story.  The HEA (Happily Every After). 

That's what the readers want and it's the hook into the next book in your series.  Still, everyone (reader and writer) would appreciate a HEA without any typos!

Happy Reading and Happy Writing,

My cohorts have editing 'Irks' they'd love to share with you, too.

Skye Taylor
Diane Bator
Beverley Bateman
Dr. Bob Rich
Anne Stenhouse
Margaret Fieland
A.J. Maguire
Victoria Chatham
Rhobin L Courtright  My Books are 60% off  a discount for Stay-at-Home Readers.  Purchase via this site all vendors!  Barnes and Noble


  1. Hi Connie, Loving the new logo.
    Weather reports might make you eligible to become an Honorary Brit as, you know, we do weather all the time.

  2. I hate reading one of my books and finding errors. Unfortunately, it happens. Great post.

  3. Had to smile about your "coffee" habit. I never drink coffee - or almost never, saving it for a long drive when I get drowsy and the caffeine is hit is more potent for not being my usual. But I see so many mimes and jokes about writers existing on coffee, can't write without it, etc. that I've often asked if they means I'm not a real writer. But in the scheme of things America is a coffee drinking nation so I doubt anyone would question your heroes and heroines drinking coffee. I'm the odd man out....

  4. Interesting post - and I think many of us commented on the fact that no matter how hard or how many times it's edited - once printed - there's almost always an error.
    I also like the new logo. Thanks, Connie.

  5. Connie, thank you for an excellent post.
    Hiding within my computer is a long list of word pairs for each letter of the alphabet "Hell" and "hello" were already there, but thank you for providing me with a new one: "send" and "second." "S" confusions are by far the most numerous. (I am very tempted to write "numerate.")
    Mind you, I have discovered a great many of those pairs from my own finger stumbles, and re-reading my books, sometimes well after publication...

  6. I enjoyed your post, Connie. You make some good points and I'll remember the weather comment, too, as I often go overboard on a weather description. But then, I AM a Brit, so maybe it's inherent.


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