Sep 25, 2022
Written By J David Baxter
A note or two on Grammar At least one or two reviews on every one of my books has mentioned grammar mistakes as an issue. I hate to see this, but I accept it. I'm not happy about it, but I have had to make a choice.
“In the end, I have to weigh the ROI (Return on Investment) of whether or not it is worth it to spend thousands per book trying to get them as clean as a multi-million dollar publishing house could. Just know that I am giving you the cleanest product I can afford to give, and I do care about it not going to print with mistakes. I do the best I can afford to do.”
Here are some of the things factoring into my process and decisions:
I am writing and publishing at a pace much faster than any traditional publishing company. They typically release new books in a series every one to two years. There is a trade-off between speed and perfection. I am releasing books two or three times per year at the moment. I hope to increase that pace even further in the future. Please consider this before giving a negative review. I could give you a 'perfect' book, but then you'd get them four times slower, and far more readers would be unhappy with the pace than are unhappy with a few small grammar issues.
I used "professional editing services" on book one. That was in addition to my own editing process, and I still received complaints. In fact, some comments suggest that my later books are better edited than book one. Go figure!
I have worked as a professional editor. I have an English degree, and I have taught English and Journalism.
On my last professional editing job I had a 5 stage process for editing, as well as 12 sets of eyes, besides mine, reviewing every line of the manuscript.
However, the day I got the 'final' copy into my hands I spotted a blatantly obvious mistake 3 paragraphs into the first page! How the heck did that make it past 5 editing passes, plus 12 readers combing through it specifically looking for mistakes? Unexplainable!
Even traditional publishers put out works with mistakes. They are unavoidable. The difference is they have far fewer mistakes because they have large editing staffs who do nothing but edit all day, every day. Of course, they will be cleaner.
If you care about grammar so deeply that you feel the need to leave a negative review, consider instead emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with a list of mistakes so that they can be corrected in future editions of the books. Or contribute to my Patreon (once I have one set up), so that I can afford to add additional editors to the process. It is unlikely that I will ever be able to afford the same level of staffing that a company like Tor has, but if the opportunity arises I would be happy to have more help.
A little bit about my current process:
I go through a 4 stage process with each book,
Edit pass #1 - As soon as I finish writing, I feed the manuscript through Grammarly or ProWritingAid to knock out as many typos and errors as it can catch. (I don't trust them, so it takes 1 to 2 weeks to complete this review). There are usually about 100 suggested corrections per chapter, about half of which are bad suggestions. Some of those suggestions would completely reverse the meaning of a sentence. Beware these tools! Still, they are good for catching simple things and making me aware of places where I am becoming too wordy.
Edit Pass #2 - I share the manuscript with my editor who then does a line edit/developmental edit. I then review all suggested changes.
Edit Pass #3 - I turn beta readers loose on the manuscript to tear it apart. After which I review all suggested changes.
Edit Pass #4 - I feed the manuscript into the formatting software that I use to generate the final files. I then do one last cover-to-cover read-through to spot anything that may have been missed in the previous three stages.
What's left 'should' be as clean as possible without spending multiple thousands of dollars or going through a big-name publishing house.
If you have never heard of the magic triangle, let me introduce you. At the three points of the triangle you have "Quality", "Speed", and "Cost". You can have any two of those things, but they will come at the expense of the third. I can give you extreme quality while not spend thousands on editing, but I will sacrifice speed of delivery. Or I could give you quality and speed, but it will come at a big cost which will make publishing these stories impossible for me. In the end, I have to weigh the ROI (Return on Investment) of whether or not it is worth it to spend thousands per book trying to get them as clean as a multi-million dollar publishing house could. Just know that I am giving you the cleanest product I can afford to give, and I do care about it not going to print with mistakes. I do the best I can afford to do. Please be gentle with your reviews. I am an independent author/publisher who does not have a team of editing professionals. I always strive to do better. I hope you will continue to enjoy my future books.