So, here’s the thing. I’m a content editor as well as a writer. I’ve wanted to be an editor since I read my favorite trilogy about a dozen or so times in high school and found content errors in it. I thought, hey, I’m good at this… I can help people make their books amazing. Because of this, I take editing on my books extremely hard when I mess something up. I dread edits on my own books even though I know that a writer is blind to their own mistakes because they’re close to a project and their eyes can (and will) play tricks on them. Because of this, I’m slowly going insane when no matter how many editors I hire, fresh eyes I have on the project, it never seems to be enough. Someone reviews it and tells me it’s “covered” in minor errors and if I hire an editor, they’ll fix it.
An editor… Will fix it.
Let me tell you the tale of Wicked Satyr Nights, my first full length novel, and how I can no longer stand the sight of the pages in it because of how editors “fixed” it.
This book was revised in full two times before submission to a small publisher in 2012, partial revisions of the first half more times than I remember. I had three beta readers after that look it over and I fixed things they pointed out. None of them noticed I spelled the heroine’s name wrong multiple times. I didn’t notice either. It received three rounds content edits that were…very sparse. This editor marked very little, and in fact, on the first round I made a lot of edits myself as a good number of months passed between looking at it and I found a slew of errors that weren’t touched. Apparently, this was the beginning of what I like to call, “The massive fuck-up” because this book only got worse instead of better from here on own. This editor also didn’t notice the spelling of the character name was wrong several times. And she also didn’t read over changes before accepting them in.
I now had a huge amount of revision errors added to my book and didn’t know it. Because I was now blind to them as I had to read quickly to make my short editing deadlines.
Line edits were behind schedule when I finally got them. I expected these to be a breeze, so put off opening the file by about a day and then BAM. Every paragraph, I kid you not, every single paragraph, was covered in marks and highlights. It looked the way a first round of edits honestly should. The line editor noticed the content editor’s oversights and I got a good heap of both when I had literally one week to turn this book in. They even got snippy with me for changing things in mythology to fit my **fictional** story (because I gave Adonis a twin I was told to “please consult the original myth to correct”) Afterward, the content editor looked over the changes and accepted everything in. “The massive fuck-up” leveled up because what editing errors I had just fixed, now were changed to new ones.
You may be wondering: did the misspelled name get fixed by the line editor that noticed how every paragraph apparently sucked?
No. No it did not.
There was also an Indiana Jones reference that was spelled, “Indian Jones.” That too made it into the first publication. I’m not sure if it got changed to it or was like that the whole time, but it made it right on through edits and to publication. Indian. Jones.
A reader emailed me a month into it’s being available to tell me about the name being spelled three different ways. I was able to get that corrected by the publisher. But as reports came in of it having even more wrong with it, I was left unable to do anything about it. I doubted myself and my abilities as a writer and as an editor. I managed to get the second book written and had a new editor. Before we moved into edits for that book, she convinced the publisher to let her re-edit book 1 for the print run and we fixed a LOT of issues.
The problem was it didn’t get a new line edit and we only had a couple weeks between the two of us to do ONE pass of edits.
Rushing + editing DOES NOT HELP. A lot got fixed, but a lot was either added back in or unnoticed. Book 2 had errors, but not to the extent of Wicked Satyr Nights. The whole process with that book has made me extremely over critical of myself and the editing process on my own books. I am honestly a pain in the ass to work with now, because I’m still traumatized. The more I try to fix this book, the more mistakes I make. It’s a never ending cycle where I can never find relief because I can’t seem to get it right.
It didn’t stop there.
In 2015 my publisher closed its doors. I had the rights to my books again and the first thing I did was get them re-edited and had a line editor work on them after. Then I hurried to get book 3 edited out of pocket (which is NOT cheap and this was the longest book I’ve written at 109,000 words). I released it soon after the first two went back on sale. I rushed to make a deadline I didn’t actually need, and so book 3 was riddled with missing/extra words and a number of homonym typos.
Wicked Satyr Nights still had typos. Under the Satyr Moon still had typos.
The more I had them worked on, the more typos remained. They never went away, but appeared somewhere else.
I fixed a number of issues on WSN that I was informed about, but it wasn’t until before The Satyr Prince came out in 2017 that I did full self-edits on any of them again. I had bought a plug-in for Word called Text Aloud, (and now there’s a version included in the program). This program reads the book in a digital voice back to you as you read the text. It helped locate any extra repetition, typos, incorrect words, missing/extra words…which were the extent of the editing errors in these books readers would complain about. I used it on The Satyr Prince after it completed content edits and had multiple proofreads. For the first time, the first reviews on one my books weren’t focused on errors. So I ran it over Satyr from the Shadows and fixed that one. I haven’t had editing error reviews on that book since I did this, so I assumed it had fixed the issue.
Because these books are SO long, I wasn’t able to get to WSN and UTSM until this year when I was working on the series bundle. I ran the program over both books and any time I changed anything, I made it read it back to me to make sure I didn’t do anything else to it.
I’ve gotten the first reviews back on the bundle and guess what. I’ve had it suggested to me that I should hire an editor to fix minor editing errors in the books. 798 pages in print…and I’ve had 4 different content editors across the set, 5 different line editors, countless beta reads before AND after edits, and I personally have read over each of these books again and again and again trying my best to eradicate any lingering mistakes.
Apparently there still are some there. How many, is unclear. Which book(s)…also unclear. It’s not because an editor hasn’t looked at it. Too many have at this point. If there are still errors, I’m deeply sorry. It honestly was not for lack of trying. I can’t even look at the first few chapters of Wicked Satyr Nights without feeling physically ill because of all the trouble I’ve had getting that book fixed. There can’t possibly be many, unless an earlier file from one of them accidentally got uploaded into the bundle, which I will be checking after this post goes live but I doubt that happened since I have everything labeled.
The point of blogging all of this is this: editors don’t catch every mistake, but they catch a lot of them. Authors can make mistakes in a book after an editor is completely done working on it. Spell checkers and other editing software cannot find every problem. Human eyes can miss the simplest of errors, even trained eyes. Traditional and indie published books both have typos in them at publication, and no one will accuse a traditionally published book of having not had edits. It’s unfortunate, but definitely not deliberate. However, you can’t assume typos means no editing was done to the book.
Wicked Satyr Nights was first published in 2012 and has undergone 4 extensive edits and several minor ones. It’s 2019. At this point, I have to give up. I cannot keep pushing the newer books aside to re-edit older works. I hope to improve as I progress, but instead I feel like I can’t let go of a problem that almost ended my writing career before it started. Something that can still be said, as I’ve had only one book sell somewhat well in 2 years, and that isn’t up to the standard of most writer’s ideas of “well.”
I’m done. The books WERE edited. I’m going insane trying to make them perfect, and like humans in general…they never will be. There honestly cannot be many mistakes left, but when I get reviews mentioning that all I see in my mind is the mistakes the first edited copy of WSN had. It’s nowhere near that anymore, but it’s like…I can’t ever escape from it. I’m trying my best to do better on new books. I’ve tried my best to fix the old ones. I’ve tried, you guys. I’ve tried, and I’m tired. I don’t know what else to do but to move on.
1 thought on ““All you need is an editor””
All I can say is wow! As a narrator, I often ask (as I’ve learned to) has the book been professionally edited? I get a yes…and in reading the manuscript it seems pretty good. But when I actually record and speak it aloud, I find mistakes and try to correct them as I go with the authors permission of course. It is frustrating and I empathize with you completely! Keep doing what you are doing and maybe find a good narrator to partner with! Good luck