Monday 29 May 2023

A Little Advice On Self-Editing For Authors – Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Occasionally I find myself with a little extra time on my hands, generally between when a valued client I have blocked out a whole fortnight for tells me they’re running late with their manuscript, and my letting other, perhaps a little newer, clients know that they’re going to be able to jump the queue if they’re quick. Recently, since a few clients have had me go over their back catalogues and tidy up the mistakes their previous editors had missed, I’ve been using those extra bits of time to go back through my own books and give them a quick once-over – just in case.

 There are a lot more of my books than I'd realised

Now, as I always tell my clients, you can’t really edit or proofread your own work. You’re much too close to it and you’ll always miss stuff. Of course, I’ve always assumed that, as an author, I am an exception to that rule, since I am a fully-trained and accredited proofreader and copyeditor, with testimonials and a full-time career to prove it. (I’m not the only one out there, there’s a few of us cocky twats.) After all, I did originally do all that training to save me money on having to pay out for editors. It was an investment and the career was an accidental by-product of that, a bit like all the tools I bought to change out bits of my old Mickey Mouse watch. I have, however, yet to become a professional battery and strap changer for vintage Disney watches, but I’m open to offers.

Picture of my Mickey Mouse watch with my dog as the background

Here's my Mickey Mouse watch (and yes, that's Sky's back)

Of course, I wrote some of those books before I’d done all that training, a fact I had forgotten until I started going through them, and completely proving my point. Now, from a distance of many years, it’s like reading somebody else’s work, and while I can no longer mess about with the plot – it’s canon now – I can fix all those misplaced speech indicators, comma splices and than/then fingerslips: the ones I was sure I’d got first time round, and there were a lot more of them than I was prepared for.

Ironically, the worst culprit for this abhorrent abuse of grammar was the book which I finished between finishing my proofreading training and embarking on the copyediting courses. Clearly the cocky teenage kid who thought he knew better than anybody else because he got good GCSE results is still living in my head rent free and making me do things badly: the twat. It’s the very same book whose entire plot, premise and ending I would dearly love to completely change back to my first-draft version, which was better, but cannot, as it leads onto another book which relies on that ending. However, having gone over it and fixed all those nasty little bits, even the big picture feels better now. I’m not going to tell you which one it was though.

It was also a nice chance to tighten up a few of the jokes, and get rid of some things that I did not realise were offensive at the time, but do now. You never stop learning right? While it’s still true that all art is merely abandoned rather than finished, at least I no longer have to worry that potential new clients might read it and wonder what on earth gives me the right to correct their writing. Although I suspect they might, since I’ve still gone against my own advice and done it all myself. At least it stands as proof that my day job remains a necessary and valued thing. Do go and buy my books, go through them, find the mistakes and prove me right.

If you had no idea I wrote books, or did, but just worried they hadn’t been edited properly then there are a lot worse things you could do than get hold of a copy of Weekend Rockstars, my first, and arguably best, book.

cover of Weekend Rockstars book
Or, if you don’t like paying for stuff, then you can get two free novellas if you sign up to my mailing list. One from the Wicker Dogs Folk Horror series, and one from the Weekend Rockstars Universe.

Equally, if you're a writer in need of editing and proofreading services, my website has a transparent per-thousand-word price list. Do get in touch with me for a quote.

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