3 Reasons You Should Edit Your Book Before You e-Publish It

One of my superpowers is spotting errors in grammar, spelling and word usage (and you know that means I'll make a mistake in this post by saying that). I'm really irked by misspelled words in printed books. I find even less excuse for such errors in electronic books, because of the ease with which the author can use spelling/grammar checking and upload a new version. One of my dearest friends is an editor by profession; I truly believe a molecule of her soul is ripped from her when she sees errors in printed or electronic documents (if, indeed, “molecule” is a unit making up the soul).

But, you know, I've worked in academia all my working career, and have a library degree. So maybe (I hear you saying, as apparently I have phenomenal hearing) I'm just a tad too picky. In my defense, I suggest these reasons why you should edit (or have someone else edit) your book before you post it to your e-platform of choice.

  1. Respect for the reader. The person who purchases your e-book and reads it is carving time out of her busy life to share the world you've created. If you don't care enough about your book to shape it into the best narrative you possibly can, why should she care about reading it?
  2. Courtesy toward the reader. Ever have that sensation where you're reading smoothly along, enjoying the action, terrified for the hero, caught up in the romance and passion–and suddenly your eye lurches? You mentally say, “Huh?” (I often say it out loud.) A phrasing struck you wrong, you encounter a misspelled word. That error takes the reader out of the moment just as surely as if the phone rang. Help the reader stay in the experience you crafted for her.
  3. Pride in your craft. Writing is a learning experience. It's highly unlikely you'll write a best seller the first time you put quill to parchment–er, dark pixels to white pixels. You hone your craft through practice, reading websites, discussing with other writers. Show your growth by taking care of the basics first. The Indie Author Group on Facebook has a wonderful list of basic things to look out for in your writing.

Invest the time in your craft. You'll be glad you did.

Let me know your take on editing, in the comments below.


  1. Janica Carter says

    Amen, sister! Ok, so I MIGHT just be the editor you reference, but you succinctly list some key points as to why I consider my job important. I’m passionate about editing because good editing provides a seamless entrance into a writer’s content. An editor’s job is to be invisible–leave no jarring errors to disrupt the reader’s absorption of the message presented.

    We’re not perfect, but we strive for perfection in our work. (Even one of the middle Harry Potter novels I own has a misspelled character’s name in it. Imagine the editorial effort that was put into that project, and still an error made it to the mass market!) Forgive us our minor sins, but if you are repeatedly bombarded with errors, consult your editor (or hire one!)

  2. Thanks, Janica! I like your definition of an editor’s job.

  3. A tip I Iearned along the way writing college papers, speeches, emails, newsletter articles and news reports along with beta reading for authors; when in doubt read it out loud or para-phrase it out loud to see if there’s a better way to help the scene flow more smoothly.

  4. As an avid reader–especially on my Kindle (one of the best Christmas gifts ever!), beginning blogger, & possibly, someday, an aspiring fiction writer, I agree wholeheartedly, Donna. Points #1 & #2 are spot-on from my point of view–that of the reader. I keep finding errors in some of the eBooks I’ve read &, while I don’t allow that type of thing to ruin the story for me, I do find it odd that as I’m fretting over every little thing I type in my blog or even a comment, here is a published author–the equivalent of a hero(ine) or a god(dess) in the eyes of a beginning writer–making blatantly obvious mistakes. However, I’ve seen tweets from authors related to formatting their eBooks for certain specific devices so, most often, I simply write off those errors as being something in the format code (something I have yet to learn about) having not transferred properly.

    We’re all human, we all make errors, & nobody’s perfect, but many word processing programs (I prefer an older version of MS Word, myself) help point out spelling & grammatical errors. I am most definitely not perfect when it comes to grammar or punctuation, but I’m relatively decent with spelling so it’s the spelling errors that seem to jump off the page or screen at me the most. As long as the storyline & characters are wonderful, though, I can thoroughly enjoy a book without any of those errors having much of an impact on my opinion of it or of the author.


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