On NOT Hiring an Editor … my interview with a vampire.

Introducing `Y` – a `successful` author.  vamp

Define successful author.

Y: My Amazon royalties pay the rent and buy the groceries.

What do you think the key ingredient is towards making huge sales?

Y: My fans love my books, they know how I write.

Why do they love them?

Y: *shrugs* Everybody has fantasies lol. I guess they like the ideas.

The sex you mean?

Y: Yes.

All of your books sell well yet they have many low scoring reviews, most of which complain about flat or dumb characters as well as puerile writing. Don’t you ever want to put that right?

Y: Puerile???

Childish.

Y: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the writing.

Perhaps you can’t see that but some of your readers obviously can. Are you a member of any writing groups where your peers might help you improve with the flat characterisation and the immature writing?

Y: I used to be a member of xxxxxxxxxx but don’t bother now.

Why not? The site you mentioned has a good review system in place. You could make your writing better.

Y: The writing is okay as it is.

Aren’t you interested in preventing those low scoring reviews?

Y: I really don’t have time. I’ve websites to look after and books to write. Fans are always demanding the next one.

I view the art of writing for the craft that it is. I can see its beguiling depths and love nothing more than to swim in its trenches of discovery, striving always to learn and improve, understanding that there is no perfection. Does the adventure of such discovery not twist your melons?

Y: You just said there is no perfection.

That was my point. The art of writing offers infinite possibilities and with a little effort on your behalf you could take your writing from puerile to great or even magnificent. Doesn’t that appeal?

Y: I don’t have time, like I just told you. My fans love my writing. They beg for more. I don’t need to improve anything.

What about pride?

Y: Of course I’m proud. I’m selling lots of books, something I’ve always wanted to do.

I’m talking about having pride in your writing.

Y: There’s nothing wrong with the writing. Those reviews are only opinions.

You don’t respect the opinions? If someone suggests the writing to be childish or the characters dumb and flat doesn’t it make you want to do something about that?

Y: Those reviews are only opinions.

So you have no pride in your writing?

Y: I’m very proud.

Of the many sales, yes, I get that, but you have no pride in your skills of the craft, would you agree?

Y: Maybe there are things that could be made better but I don’t have time.

That being the case we can break this down to a simple conclusion. You are like a vampire, leeching off the sexual needs of your clamouring readers, disinterested in improving their reading experience.

Y: Lol!

That wasn’t meant to be funny.

Y: I’m a successful author.

You are a successful salesman, but a mediocre writer.

Y: There’s nothing wrong with the writing.

Puerile?

Y: People shouldn’t be allowed to leave reviews like that.

Okay, let’s talk about the mistakes.

Y: Mistakes?

The typos, grammatical errors, continuity errors, punctuation errors.

Y: There may be the odd one just like any in any novel.

True, however, if we take your novel xxxxxxx as an example, there are glaring errors on every page.

Y: I think you’re exaggerating.

I can email you a doc with the errors highlighted.

Y: No thanks.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers who read this interview?

Y: You can’t use my name.

Why not? You have a great many sales with clamouring fans and many five star reviews, of which you say you are proud, surely our chat would garner more sales?

Y: I don’t need the publicity.

But your success is a perfect example of why writers should not hire an editor or a proof reader. Who needs such unnecessary expense when sales can be made without editorial aid. Isn’t that what you’re saying?

Y: I guess I am, but you can’t put my name to this.

I accept that your pride lies in making great sales, and I accept your conviction lies in churning out the next book, but shouldn’t you have the courage of your convictions?

Y: I don’t churn them out. I write for hours into the night, every day.

How long did xxxxxxxx take you to write?

Y: About eight weeks then another two editing.

You edited?

Y: of course.

Eight weeks for a full draft is mighty quick… I do think that could be classed as churning.

Y: Your opinion.

You didn’t answer my earlier question… What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Y: Just write and get your books out there.

What about employing an editor or a proof reader?

Y: That’s personal preference.

I’d suggest it’s down to whether or not you have pride in your skills as a writer. If you want your writing to stand out, want to keep those review scores high, want to hold your head high, then you should attempt to bring some quality to your work.

Y: I am proud.

But you won’t hold your head high?

Y: I do. My family are proud of my success.

If you are proud enough to hold your head high then I can assume it’s okay to use your real name?

Y: No, you may not use my name.

Then I guess I can’t link to your books?

Y: No.

Pick a letter.

Y: Why?

Thank you for your time.

………………………………………………………………

There it is, folks. You don’t necessarily need an editor.

Simply determine where your pride lies and go from there.

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36 Comments

  1. louisewise

     /  July 17, 2013

    Awesome post. My eyes bleed over the mistakes I see in indie books sometimes (trads aren’t so perfect, either!). What Gok Wan is to fashion, John Hudspith is to editing!

    Reply
  2. Wow. Great post! My soul bleeds for the writing profession.

    Reply
  3. Janet Eve Josselyn

     /  July 17, 2013

    Loved this post, especially since my eBook has some errors that I haven’t fixed yet! I was slammed in a couple of reviews for those errors and I really should take it down and fix them . . . . someday! Certainly the Indie authors out there hesitate to pay for editing when they have no idea if they will ever make that money back from sales! It’s a tough call!

    Reply
    • Agreed, Janet. But sometimes it can be not about making the money back but making your work of art the best it can be. Hiring an editor is nothing more than asking a fellow writer to help hone your work. Taking such pride in your productions before throwing them to the world is not important to many, it seems.

      Reply
    • The problem with not bothering to edit is you risk turning readers off permanently. If I buy a book by an author who didn’t bother to edit and I see glaring mistakes on every page, bad grammar, flat characters, etc. I’m not likely to ever buy another book by that person. Even if they employ an editor for every book after that. First impressions matter. The quality you put out there matters. You’ll still get some readers, this is true. But in the end, you’re shooting yourself in the foot, AND you’re putting something out there that isn’t your best work. Money isn’t the most important thing out there.

      Reply
      • He said he edited. And there are plenty of flat characters and glaring typos in books published with traditional publishers and have been for years. I’m the sort of writer who considers every comma, but what I find personally true is that STORY RULES. People compulsively read – for story. And if the story is strong, really if errors occur, that’s not a problem. If the errors bother anyone it’s because the story is not strong enough. That said, I edit like crazy.

  4. That was fun to read. Shame on Y for not using an editor. Quality is important, but having said that if Y is doing well without quality control, then more power to them. Not my style, but everybody’s entitled to their own thing.

    As for bad reviews – we all get them and we should all know to ignore them, as long as there’s proof contrary opinions exist (aka good reviews). I’ve had books blasted out of best selling lists by jealous competition writing bad reviews and needed to have Amazon step in and resolve some of the attacks.

    Now to churning out books. 8 weeks? Why so long, if there’s no real editing. I’ve been going for a year and a half now with a novel a month – but I also send it to third party professional editors. So start to finish I do rough draft inside 4 weeks typically, then hit my pre-scheduled slot with my editor in the next few weeks and send the rough draft to beta readers. At the same time my cover artist creates something. As soon as everything is finished and I go over it a final time and send it off. The day after I finish a rough draft I’m already starting the next book.

    Is it churning if you love what you do and you’ve found a way to do it efficiently?

    Reply
  5. This was priceless! Too funny.

    Reply
  6. Holy smokes! I can’t decide if this interview is sad or frightening. Everyone needs an editor. Everyone! I’m a decent writer, but I learn new things every day. My advice for new writers is always never stop learning. Y is a fool. The bubble will burst and then what happens?

    Reply
    • I’ve found that the editor I hired was not a help but a hindrance. The really sharp people are passionate readers. I got such great on point suggestions from them! True, you have to find readers who will tell you the truth. I chose writers, and actors, who are trained to read for every nuance. I found them most helpful. And won’t waste my money on an editor. I learn from reading great books, from rereading my books over and over, and most from the comments of my readers. In my opinion, and experience, The Reader Knows Best.

      Reply
      • I used to think that way too, but I’ve learned so much about writing since I started working with an editor. I’m lucky because she’s a great teacher. Don’t let one bad editor scare you away.

  7. This has got to be a joke. It is, right? And Y is a fictional character? Why would any writer not take enough pride in their work to interview with their name and links intact? Whether indie, self published or traditional, every writer should have someone else edit their work. That’s just common sense.

    Reply
  8. Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter

     /  July 17, 2013

    ROFL. It is rather funny, because there was a discussion on LindedIN about First Drafts. Most of the people there wouldn’t show anyone their First Drafts, because they were ashamed of them.

    I’ve sold First Drafts. You know John Manning. He’s bought several of my first drafts. One he requested no edits for. None. Not one issue with spelling or grammar (though I’ll admit when I get tricky I provide editors with glossaries – I use stuff that is somewhat odd including Native themes and words – and how many editors know Cree).

    Now I may have a bit of an advantage with polishing stuff, because I also do editing. But I think that most of it comes down to being careful about what you are doing.

    Wayne

    Reply
    • I agree. All writers do not need editors and the perceptive will recognize good writing in a first draft when they see it. I also, as a writer, have some advantage in that I have done professional proof reading and copy editing. And am detail oriented.Wayne, if you like scroll up to see what I wrote re the importance of story over rules and the typos that occur in any case in professionally edited books coming out of traditional publishers.

      Reply
  9. Armchair Designer

     /  July 18, 2013

    I must ask : is that piece fiction, or an actual interview ?
    In the first hypothesis, that’s quite brilliant, and if the latter, it’s giving a new meaning to the word ‘interview’.

    Reply
  10. Lisa Bilbrey

     /  July 18, 2013

    Oh, this interview made me cringe and feel sorry for the author. It’s not about how good a writer one is, but about putting out the best possible work. As author’s we’re too emotionally tied to our books to be able to see them with a clear and fresh pair of eyes, which is why we need editors and proofreaders.

    Reply
  11. I like making money selling books, and I do so just fine with even my first books that weren’t that wonderful. However, I continue to improve myself and want to put a quality product out there for my readers. Whoever this writer is, they won’t last long if they never improve. Better quality stories with sexual content at the same price will win out in the end, and this writer will no longer be “successful” writer (in that she can pay her bills and buy groceries). But hey, that’s her own damn fault.

    Reply
  12. I think we’d all agree that proper grammar and editing assistance are good things, but we can’t force them on anyone. Isn’t calling “Y” a vampire somewhat hyperbolic? It sounds like the readers are properly forewarned if they check her reviews.

    Reply
  13. Debbii

     /  July 18, 2013

    Speechless.

    Reply
  14. It had me laugh and think on a certain author I came across and sent a mail on how and what to improve in the book I should have reviewed but didn’t because I just couldn’t.
    It really happens people! Yes, there are authors out there who think they do not need an editor, or who think they hired an editor but were ripped off. Which sadly happens too, a lot even.

    Reply
  15. Hysterical…and not a little sad at the same time. Unfortunately, there are authors who think this way. Nothing can take the place of a good editing team.

    Reply
  16. “Y: I think you’re exaggerating.
    I can email you a doc with the errors highlighted.
    Y: No thanks.”
    Oh man, so much ridiculousness. I’m in awe.

    Reply
  17. Great post and a valuable lesson.

    Reply
  18. Wow. This is why it is so disheartening to be an indie author, sometimes. There are many authors just like the one you interviewed who churn out awful books but continue to rake in sales. I just don’t understand it.

    And I mean…if you’re not going to hire an editor then you better be spending more than 2 weeks in edits!

    Reply
  19. I’m about a week away self-publishing my first novel. I did hire an editor. I found her by contacting a best-selling indie published author that I like and asking her who edited her book. She charged me about $800. I’d say the budget was stretched, especially since I had two other quotes, one for about $300, and the other for almost $500. To be honest, though, at this moment, my book is being formatted for print and ebook, but I’m a nervous wreck because I know there’s still got to be a typo in there. A misplaced comma, a repeated word, the wrong form of their, or something. At some point it just has to be done. My brother told me that a few small errors makes the book seem like it’s written by a human. A whole bunch of errors makes it distracting to read. That helps me sleep at night 🙂

    Reply
  20. This has to be fake. This is fake right? Come on… please tell me it’s fake…

    Reply
  21. I wasn’t scared away from editors by one who proved rather useless as an editor – a well known professional, many years in the field. I’ve just not decided not to use them for now. There is one editor who works for Random House who I met at an event at the Center for Fiction in NYC. I’d be honored to show my work to her but she only works for them unfortunately.

    Reply
  22. ash bateson

     /  July 22, 2013

    first comes the comment that many reviews mention the writing is purile but the very next question asks if the author is wanting to improve on this and learn to write better…..since when did a few reviews stating the work was purile mean its accepted that it is, what about the good reviews,
    This interviewer is simply adding their personal opinion as a fact and getting upset that the author doesn’t agree , the interviewer continues the entire time asserting their opinion of the work their own critique as an accepted fact and calls the author out on being a poor technician due to this ‘fact’ the whole ‘interview’ is nothing short of continued insults, this interviewer would never be given an interview again if they worked for any publication i controlled what poor journalism. They seem rude beyond belief asking the same questions again and again simply because the answer is not what they wanted. In future try listening to the answers given and not ask the same question again when its clearly only being asked as a way for the interviewer to show their opinion on the authors skill

    Reply
  23. I agree. And further believe the “interview” was set up to push the notion that authors must have editors. I believe in readers. Those who I know are professional people at all levels (in other fields or writing related) whose input I consider priceless. jacquelinestigman.com

    Reply
  24. I would have liked to see the author expand on his/her thoughts and really engage in the conversation. With no name, it’s bad PR for indie authors everywhere.

    Reply
  25. It’s about time I tweeted this. High-five, Mr Crowman.

    Reply
  1. On NOT Hiring an Editor … my interview with a vampire. | Louisewise's Blog
  2. ‘Y’ she didn’t hire an editor… | R.J. Keith
  3. On NOT Hiring an Editor … my interview with a vampire. | The Blonde Mark

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