Saturday, January 21, 2012

Are Edits Really Worse Than a Root Canal?

Here's my latest observation.

If reviewers use "poor editing" as a criteria for marking down a book rating, why do they think they're the exception to that same standard?

Answer: They’re not. We’re not. I am not.

Bear in mind that I am making reference to those reviewers who contribute to organized review sites, not personal bloggers. Although they might find value in this, who knows?

How closely do reviewers follow their favorite authors? How much do they pay attention to the words the writer uses that touch base on what they do? You know, when they talk about not just their characters but the behind-the-scenes goings on?

If readers follow authors on Facebook or Twitter or any of the Yahoo Groups they’re a part of, or the authors’ own blogs, they'll notice discussions about galleys, edits and other components that make up their day beyond the initial creative process. It’s not glorious or fun – it’s hard work, time consuming and exacting. The payoff for readers is a finished product that will inspire imagination and enjoyment.

A review is a cousin of that process. Sure, some might say it’s a distant cousin but it’s related through the written word. We share our opinions of that final product; how it affected us, what worked or didn’t work and what our favorite parts were, or least favorite.  We even point out the things that got missed, like editing.

Reviewers are writers too. We use words to explain and share our opinions and, like authors, we also make mistakes. We know what we want to say but sometimes our fingers just don’t make the connection. From our head to our fingers or pen, weird things can happen. The brain is amazing. It can take words that should be there and insert them for us to see when we are reading it back to ourselves. But those words are actually missing! Therefore, we think it’s perfect and submit it. We never notice, we never question our perfection. Imagine the shock of being told to fix errors!

We know what we want to say but perhaps don’t know the right word, or, perhaps it’s a word not used often and we mess up the spelling. We are fallible. We are human.

I have to ask:

Why don't they use the many and varied tools that writers have access to? Such as: a spell checker, a thesaurus, even the humble dictionary. Why do they resist using them? Why do reviewers get their panties in a twist when their review comes back for edits? Why are they taking it personally when told that their review needs to be tweaked? Why do they think they’re above the process that authors are expected to deal with every day?

Does anyone have some answers for me?
Don't they want their reviews to be respected?

And please don’t respond with, “Well, I am not an writer/author. I‘m just a reviewer.” That is a cop out. You ARE a writer – you’re not reading this because you are singing or a tap dancing. You. Are. Writing! Ergo: a writer.

Edits - a necessary component for anyone who takes what they write seriously. You can even call it a necessary evil. Embrace them – they’re actually good for you.

Taking it a step further – if a reviewer wants to review for multiple sites, realize they can’t take the cookie-cutter approach. Nor can they expect one format to be accepted by all of the sites they belong to. Not only that, but they can’t re-use the same review because of intellectual property rights.

Did you know that?

In addition, some sites have an attitude of laissez faire while others require a level of professionalism and are more proactive. Most are willing to work with their reviewers and help them grow, and others don’t put in that kind of investment. Ask yourself – What kind of site do I review for?

If you don’t want to put in much effort - the thrill is just getting to share your opinion, then go with the sites that aren’t picky- they’ll be a good fit.

However, if that is your modus operandi and you start to review for a site that requires attention to detail, with the burden  falling on the reviewer for submitting a decent review the first time, then it might not be a good match at all. A reviewer will be faced with their lack and their review will come back for edits. For some it’s a hard pill to swallow. For some reviewers, it’s so insulting that they just up and quit.


That kind of reaction isn’t very professional. And even if you don’t review for an organized site, certainly it comes across as very high school-ish and thin-skinned. You can’t tell me that a job in the corporate world doesn’t have moments of criticism, correction and instruction. If a person can survive that, then certainly a little editing request shouldn’t be the end of the world. Suck it up and do what you do with pride and honor.

You are worth it. Your opinion is worth it. The story is worth it. Edits help you learn, grow and create a better final product. What can a reviewer possibly find objectionable about that?

Someone, please tell me.
Because I think edits are much better than a root canal. Any day.


Shari said...

Bravo Xeranthemum! I really liked this article and agree with you!

Xeranthemum said...

Wow, thank you, Shari!
I appreciate your taking the time to comment and to let me know that what I said had merit.
Gives me the warm and fuzzies.
And a warm glow because you read my post.
Thank YOU!