I finally started to read “Writing the Breakout Novel” by Donald Maass and was a little surprised by something he said. He was debunking myths about the business of writing and how to become successful, when he mentioned editors won’t necessarily make your novel shine anymore. What? If we can’t count on our editor to make our novel the best it can be, who can we count on?
Before you fall off your seat, if you haven’t already, Maass does state that there are editors out there who will help you fix the problems in your book. However, there are many who are overworked and simply don’t have the time. Have you ever read a best-seller and wondered how those obvious grammar errors were not caught? Or what about the fact that the heroine had blue eyes in chapter one, but by chapter ten her eyes were brown? I've noticed flaws in best-selling novels quite often and thought the editors were simply afraid to touch the author’s masterpiece. Granted, that does happen, but the problem tends to stem more from too much work than anything else. Maass goes on to state that paperback editors can be responsible for three novels a month and one editor he knows has a hundred titles annually. Could you imagine?
What are authors doing to help solve this problem? They’re submitting work that is as near polished as possible. Sometimes they use a critique group to help them get to that point and other times they hire an outside editor.
It's disappointing to see the publishing industry has changed so much. Gone are the days of promoting each and every author, and now editing is not even guaranteed. Wow. That was a shocker for me. Such a shame. But, let me be clear, I'm not blaming the editors or even the industry. Publishers are doing what they have to do in order to survive. Editors simply can't do more than what's humanly possible. Unfortunately, this affects all of us. When an unedited book is printed with flaws/errors/mistakes (whatever you'd like to call them), this reflects upon the author, the editor, and the publishing house. None of which is good for sales.
Have you read novels that obviously hadn’t been edited? As a writer, how does that make you feel?