My Random Thoughts on the Mystery of Unedited Books and Questions about Self-Publishing

As you probably know by now, I’m preparing for NaNoWriMo next month.  Since I’m not used to this whole “prep” thing, I’m turning to even more books to help me out.

(Note to Planners:  planning out a novel beforehand sucks.  Simply having a general blurb and then sitting down to write it all out is much more fun.  I now have an even deeper respect for those who actually do this prepping thing as a general rule and not just once a year.  Any suggestions from you are greatly appreciated!)  

In one of my recent posts I asked about the current editing standards.  Some others agreed that self-published books seem to be better edited in recent years than the books the big publishing houses are putting out.

I know this has been driving you all crazy too…  Well, I have found the explanation, my friends!

(It wasn’t bothering you at all?  Huh.  I guess I’ll keep typing anyway.)

So, what are the books I’ve chosen to guide me through this process of writing a book in 30 days? KIMG0170

I’m so glad you asked!

In addition to the library sized writing books I already have (yeah, it’s more like 8-10 books, but you already knew I was exaggerating… don’t be so literal all the time, geesh), I’m using a couple of books written by Donald Maass – Writing the Breakout Novel and the Workbook that goes along with it, as well as Writing 21st Century Fiction.  (All three are available on Kindle Unlimited, which is why I linked them to the Amazon site)

So this is all a very long way of getting to the point…  I started reading Writing the Breakout Novel today.  The first chapter addresses the editing issue that I previously referenced.

Some examples of what Maass has to say on the subject:

… have you recently read a novel you would swear never received a blue pencil mark?…

Best-selling authors are not immune; indeed, they may be especially prone to this problem…

…they work a lot harder than they did twenty years ago.  A typical editor at a hardcover imprint may be responsible for twenty-four titles a year.  Paperback editors can be given much heavier loads; three a month is not uncommon.  One editor I know is responsible for one hundred titles annually!

Today’s workloads mean that editors tend to be oriented toward the completed manuscript.  Few are heavily involved with the author at early stages of development, such as in the outline stage… At late stages, fundamental problems with plot design, point of view or cast composition can be difficult to address.  ~ Donald Maass (excerpts from Writing the Breakout Novel)

There you have it folks!  It’s not that the editors don’t care about their work, it’s that they have too much work and not enough time.

Honestly, this wasn’t a big surprise to me…  It was more a confirmation of a hypothesis I’ve had.  (I love being right.)

Anyways…  I was already planning on hiring an editor to edit my first novel before I send it out to an agent.   And if I self-publish, readers will be less likely to put my book down because of failed editing.  (Self-promoting side note:  Shop my Avon online store to help me save for the costly editor I want.)

Which all begs the question…  is it better to just self-publish?

I could pay to have my book edited, then send it off to an agent, who in turn ships it off to multiple potential publishers.  It’s accepted by one, who then (potentially) wants to make changes and it gets edited by their editors…

Now, I could be wrong.  I’m still learning all this craziness…  so I’d love to hear from anyone who has already been published in any medium.  What were your experiences?

I’d also like to make it clear that I am in no way saying the editors at publishing houses are bad.  If they weren’t the best, I doubt they’d have a job.  I am just of the opinion that they are overworked and impossible demands are currently placed upon them.

Since I am in no way an expert or insider in the publishing world, this is all just my experience as a reader.  (Any of you who have been reading this blog also know that I am far from mistake free myself!)

I can’t even read a James Patterson book without cringing at all the typos.  Granted, it’s not usually bad enough to take me out of the story… but sometimes, it is.  There are a couple of Patterson’s books on my shelves right now that I put down for weeks because I couldn’t stay in the imaginary land he had painted for me.

This has led to an ever increasing shift in the books I read to more and more being from self-published authors.  Am I the only reader who is preferring these books lately?  If I’m not, are publishing houses in danger of becoming irrelevant?

Okay, I’m done rambling.  It’s your turn to ramble back at me…

6 thoughts on “My Random Thoughts on the Mystery of Unedited Books and Questions about Self-Publishing

  1. A note on the planning thing; I feel like a wasted a lot of years trying to find the One True Way to prep a book. Eventually I figured out that I do best with a low level of preparation, much like you say is your habit. In particular, detailed plot outlines always sink me. I get excited about scenes A, D and F, then realize B, C and E are going to be no fun to write but I’m stuck with them because I can’t figure out another way to get to the good ones.

    On the other hand, I think experimenting with outlining helped me figure out what level of pre-writing works best for me. I find that I need to have a beginning and an ending already in mind, but I do best if my details on the middle are deliberately vague. I do need characters pretty well fleshed out, but settings can be tweaked along the way. For other writers, it’s totally different. So yeah, play around, try stuff you haven’t done and discard what doesn’t work for you. That’s the only advice I have.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m going to try to not get too detailed in my outline. Just a vague “this might happen” kind of thing so I don’t feel like I can’t change it. I’m worried that if I do a too detailed outline, I’ll do exactly what you said, and not want to write the scenes I don’t find particularly fun. Thanks! 🙂

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  2. I’m with you. I have some kind of plan when I start a new book, but not a lot of detail. When I wrote “Confessions of a Redneck Romeo,” I knew the beginning and the end and a vague idea of the progression of wives. So I made a list of expectations for each one and figured out which progression worked for me. I made a not of each concept, then pretty well fly by the seat of my pant with the help of a fantastic writer’s critique group. But like you say, to each their own way of doing it. You’re going to be spending a lot of time with this project and you need to feel comfortable with your own pathway.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I consider myself a planner, but my planning is just so that I don’t forget important plots, twists that I want to add to the story. Usually, I write it down on my notebook and refer to it whenever I am writing my novel.
    By the way, I am doing NaNo too…what is your username? Would love to add you to my buddy list!

    Liked by 1 person

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