Allow me to get in my feels a lil bit today. Like anyone with half a nerve or any bundle of human emotions, I feel that have to defend my honor and my reputation here, so I’m placing my editor’s hat on right now, and I want to speak specifically to readers (which is a very broad term):
CUT THE EDITOR SOME SLACK! Some…
I think one of the main expectations that a reader has when they start a new book is that it be perfection from beginning to end. This means not a single spelling error, not one grammatical mistake, no misplaced commas, and the storyline itself better on point. And this is without an editor! So when a reader sees Eva Editor listed in the credits, that book better be a literary masterpiece from the front matter to the acknowledgments at the end. Judgment is quick, and it is fierce. And you know what? As a reader myself, I get it. I really do.
So what does an editor exactly do, and why don’t they always do it right? Well, that last part is subjective, but I hope I can shed some light, so let’s go!
In my personal experience as an editor so far, there are two main types of editors when it comes to fictional writing on a small scale (I’m speaking indie): copy editor and developmental editor.
Well, what’s the difference? In the indie world, at least, much! Time and budget often dictate the level of service needed.
- Copy editing is basically proofreading and checking for spelling, grammar, and punctuation, along with making sure the words used actually make sense and mean what they’re supposed to mean. Ya know, making sure the author doesn’t use proceed when she meant to say precede, and that he’s not using your when he meant to use you’re. This is the most basic of editing if you will, and has nothing to do with plot and how the story itself plays out.
- Developmental editing, on the other hand, includes copy editing and actual plot, characterization, and/or story structure. It is the most rigorous of the editing process, and it is often the reason why we wait months and months for our favorite author to release that book we’re so anxious to get our hands on. Often times, when an editor receives the initial draft, it’s in it’s rawest, purist form (or at least that’s how my mind works.)Developmental editing can be a very time-consuming process that can go through many rounds of revisions and is the more expensive option of the two. Editor and author may not always agree so there may be some push and pull. Research may be involved to validate or verify things the author has written. I like to compare this kind of editing to thesis writing because it ain’t no joke!
So this is essentially what an editor is hired to do. When you see Eva Editor listed behind the author’s name, you won’t see Eva Editor, Copy Editor, or Eva Editor, Developmental Editor. You will only see Eva Editor, Editor. Eva could be hired simply to spell and grammar check without regards to plot or characterization.
This is what an editor is not hired to do:
- Rewrite the author’s story to fit their vision of how they think the story should be. (That’s kinda like ghost-writing which is a whole ‘nother ball of wax.)
- Add or remove anything that we feel readers would like or not like.It’s not our story to tell, plain and simple. We’re only advisers, if you will. We can make the most helpful suggestions in the world, but it is ultimately up to the author whether or not they choose to accept them. The bad news for the editor is, if they’re listed as an editor, they’ll take the fall regardless. I’m learning that, and it goes with the territory. I don’t like it, lol, but I get it.
Lastly, when reading a story that appears to be riddled with spelling and/or grammar errors, ask yourself this: Who is doing the talking here? Is it the character or the narrator? Is the character a billionaire mogul or a cowboy?
If Tony is a country boy who loves the ladies, he might say something like “Y’all lookin’ mighty fine in them jeans, ladies…” Don’t be so quick to assume the author is using bad grammar. Vernacular and characterization (and sometimes a bit of common sense) must be considered. While “Good evening, ladies. May I say you all look lovely tonight…” is also perfectly fine, and probably the kind of grammar and chivalry we may prefer, I’m also thinking Pass the Grey Poupon…
On the flipside, if Spencer is Harvard-educated, pompous and arrogant as hell with a virtual stick up his ass, I expect him to say something like “You’re a complete vision of loveliness. May I take you to dinner soon so that we may get better acquainted?” not “Hey ma, what you doin next week cause a brotha tryna holla…” Now, I am in no way saying the latter is bad (though some may disagree), but given that we were previously painted this picture of Spencer as a man who is intelligent and stately and pronounces every syllable in a word, if he speaks like a bunch of rap lyrics instead of a legal brief, then yeah, there’s some cause for concern.
If the narration itself is full of misspellings and bad grammar, then yes, wave the RED FLAG! And I’m not talking about a character narrating the story, but the author is doing the narrating. Now I get why an author sometimes includes a “how-to read this book” in the beginning. It used to irk the hell out of me because I was one of those chicks who were quick to say “Who the hell does she think she is trying to me how to read a damn book….?”
As I continue to wear these multiple hats, my perspective on so many things is ever evolving. I am a little less scrutinizing over there vs. their (although my eagle eye won’t let me not see it), and I won’t rush to judgment when I don’t like a book because I feel the editor didn’t do their job. Maybe they did, and the author just pulled an Usher or a Frank Sinatra and did it their way…I’m just sayin…