When I started this series I swore to myself I wasn’t going to talk about editing, because seriously how many forums, groups, and loops are you on where people ask for recommendations for editors? It’s the oldest, most repeated question in Indie land. So, I’m going to stick to at least part of my pledge, and I’m not going to talk about editors. Instead, I’m going to use a recent blog by Hugh Howie as a launching pad to a discussion about editing and writing and story.
First of all, here’s the link to Hugh’s post: http://amazonauthorinsights.com/post/161308225145/a-question-about-poorly-edited-books-by-hugh?ref=aai_ts_write
Now, to summarize, Howey says that while writers should strive to do things decently, readers are expecting too much and we should all work harder at reading. He ends with “Plot is king, prose is pawn.”
So here you are, you’re striving to be a professional Indie writer and you hear…well, stuff like that. The simple fact is, you’re Indie, and you can do what you want. You don’t have to worry about the writing if you don’t want to. You can use cheap, second or third rate editing so that you can check that off the list, and comfort yourself with the thought that “I paid for professional editing.”
And the ultimate justification always used for this approach is Fifty Shades of Grey. Seriously, how many times have you heard it? “If writing really mattered Fifty Shades wouldn’t be the phenomenon it is.” And if any of us dare say writing is more important than a mere vehicle to distribute story, then we’re snobs and don’t understand what readers really want.
So what I’ll say is this: If you’re going to be a professional, if you respect the art and business of books, and if you understand that markets and readers and trends change drastically from year to year, then you need to care about writing. That doesn’t mean story doesn’t matter–of course it does, otherwise you’re writing what? Random words? Grocery lists? Novels are stories, stories must engage readers, and one of the best ways to help with that? Decent writing.
Qualified editors can help make sure your writing is solid–no matter what your personal voice and style may be. Not every book needs the same types of edits, not every writer can afford Cadillac edits, but if you’re going to be a professional Indie author, do yourself and the rest of us a favor and give a damn about your writing. Will your book be perfect? Of course not, because no book ever is, but contrary to what Howie suggests, readers shouldn’t have to develop a whole new ability just to read your book. Your book’s not that special. No one’s is. Instead, be a professional, make sure the writing is every bit as good as the story. It’s part of the job, and if you ignore it you not only damage your own brand, you damage the reputation of the profession. If Plot is King, then Writing needs to be Queen. Cleaning the house can be pawn. Indie writers are allowed to have dirty houses. It’s a rule. Ask anyone.