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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Confessions of An Editor and Her Favorite Editing Booboo Story

I am thrilled to have Kristine M. Smith guest blog today because it always helps to have someone besides me remind you that even great writers can boo-boo, especially with their own copy. That way you, my dear blog subscribers, don't think I'm just trying to sell you services. And really I'm not. Somehow I do stay busy, which is why I wrote The Frugal Editor--a much thriftier way to get help with your writing.  

Read on! I think you'll be entertained--and informed--and might feel better about getting some editing done another Frugal Way--Kristine's way! 
Confessions of a Former Lone Ranger
By Kristine M Smith
As writers, some of us have achieved a measurable degree of success. We even have pro-active readers who will ascend nearby (and faraway) hilltops and skyscrapers with bullhorns and/or banners to announce our newest titles. Other “sneezers” attack their keyboards to spread their praises “virally” to Facebook friends and Twitter peeps with such ferocity that you’d swear they’re earning a percentage of the royalties!

One fun thing I’ve learned about these folks is that my readers ADORE being among the first to read my newest manuscript, when I’m finally ready to share it with someone. Probably the best thing about this is that they’re so crazy about the way I write and the things I write about that they want my next offering to be a masterpiece even more than I do.  Talk about someone “having your back’!  These people are ruthless—and priceless!  I’ve had to apologize for some of their heart-stopping responses when an Amazon reviewer, God forbid, didn’t give one of my books a 5-star rating!  You think the political season just past was rough? My fans can make the DEM-GOP rivalry look like a love-in!

So what I did with my last two books SERVAL SON: Spots and Stripes Forever and SETTLE FOR BEST: Satisfy the Winner You Were Born to Be (Futureword Publishing) is this: I asked various well-read, well-spoken, English-savvy fans of my earlier books to volunteer to serve as eagle-eyed proofreaders and hard-nosed critics when I was ready to have the manuscripts looked over.  It’s AMAZING what you find out when you turn your fans loose to help you be the best you can be!  They spot things you would never spot—and I can’t swear a professional editor would spot them, either.  These people know you; they read, absorb and inhabit your mind and sentences the way some people ponder Shakespeare!

And there have been more than a few funny, funny things that have come from my fans’ painstaking perusals. I wish I could remember them all … but here’s a comparable one from decades ago:

While reading one of my pieces, my dear mother (now departed)—a voracious reader who seemed to know everything—remarked to me with a decidedly straight face and a voice to match, “Now, here’s something I’ve never heard or read before [drum roll, please…]:  I didn’t know that ‘snakes go bling when they shed.”

I laughed so hard I cried.  “Uh…that would be ‘blind’, Mom.” 

Ever since that long-gone moment, I have imagined snakes going bling when they shed!  They should be darned easy to locate, with all that blinging going on!

That was the LAST time I ever proofread my own copy without having a back-up editor!

So before you relinquish your beloved manuscript to a professional editor, surrender it to some of the people who most want to read it: your trust-worthiest fans!  They’re not going to let you get away with anything; they’re going to savor every precious moment, knowing they’re previewing the manuscript you’re unveiling next. If they catch you looking foolish or ‘blinging’ snakes, they’ll let you know. They’ll save your bacon.

There’s just one precaution when you do this: Make sure they’ll give it to you straight. (Some won’t because they won’t want to hurt your feelings.) And make sure they’re voracious readers with decent grades in English.  

When you can get your manuscript past each of them with two thumbs up, only then should you pass it along to a professional editor who can catch the too many (or too few) commas (my particular bugaboo) and other literary liabilities.


Kristine M Smith is a professional copywriter and the author of seven books. Six of her titles are available at Amazon and other online bookstores. Find out more about them and Kris at  You can hear Kris’s Authors Show interview about SERVAL SON from her blog site at


Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits, consults. and speaks on issues of publishing. Find her The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success (How To Do It Frugally series of book for writers). Learn more about her other authors' aids at , where writers will find lists and other helps including Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips on the Resources for Writers page. She blogs on all things publishing (not just editing!) at her Sharing with Writers blog. She tweets writers' resources at . Please tweet this post to your followers. We all need a little help with editing. (-:

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