Westercon 69 and My Resulting “To Do” Items


I’m currently attending Westercon 69 in Portland and enjoying both the company of friends old and new, and the panels. I’ve attended quite a few panels on writing and getting published, with many of these geared toward indie and small press authors. As a result of listening to the audience questions, I now have the following items on my list to add to this site.

  • Tips for Hiring an Editor
  • Tips for Working with Editors
  • Signs You Need a New Editor
  • What are General Editing Categories
  • Editing Contracts
  • What is a Style Guide and Why Do You Care?
  • How to Be a Good Beta Reader

Those are just the topics off the top of my head. If you are particularly interested in one or more of these, let me know in comments or on Facebook, and I’ll move them up in the queue. Otherwise I’ll tackle them in some random order.

For those people I have met at Westercon – pleased to meet you! Hope you are having a great convention.

Bad editing is not “handcrafting”

I happened to see this statement attached to a bit of promo from a self-published author this week. The quote was included in an announcement that the author’s newest book was now available on Smashwords and it was so absolutely bizarre to see, I had to reread it several times to see if the author had, indeed, said what I thought I read.

The statement was:

Oh sure, there’s bound to be something we missed in the editing process but flaws are what sets handmade art apart from the manufactured items, right? Perfection is so overrated.



First, I disagree with the implication that well-edited works are “manufactured items”. That’s a borderline offensive statement to authors who work very hard to make their work as error-free as possible. If an author hires me as an editor to help perfect their work, is their work somehow diminished by this? They are not artists any longer? The work they toiled over, sweated over and invested in is somehow lessened by careful editing?

Second, this sort of statement, to me, says the author is taking such a casual attitude toward the work that I shouldn’t bother to buy it. It’s not taken professionally. The author is making excuses instead of trying to ensure the work is as error-free as possible. Excuses are being made, in advance, for why there are errors and trying to make it somehow cute. Maybe the author is saying that we, as readers, shouldn’t expect work to be well-edited because it should be “art”.

My issues with this are independent of whether the author is self-published or not, but most publishers do make at least a cursory attempt at editing a manuscript before they publish it. This kind of statement can be part of what gives self-published works a bad rap, though.

In this case, the author’s own words and excuses have caused this author to be on my personal Never Buy list and I don’t consider this statement one that would be made by someone who wants to be taken at all seriously.

Thanks for the warning.