It is never a good idea to edit oneself. Trust me.
I’ve been editing for a long time. I began with a bit of proof-reading, and moved on from there. I edit everything that comes out of the husband’s office, and lots more besides.
You would think, wouldn’t you, that this would qualify me to proofread and edit just about anything? And, the truth is, it does... Just about.
Self-publishing is a thing now. I’m perfectly at ease with that. Anything that keeps rubbish off the slushpile (see my snarky rant: Bloody Amateurs) has got to be a good thing.
There’s a debate about the benefits of self-publishing, and ‘bestselling’ writers are being born on the web every day, it seems. I’ve heard enough about “50 Shades of Grey” to know that I won’t be reading it, though.
Self-publishing, like the old vanity publishing, is OK, I suppose, if you want your friends and family to be able to get their hands on your great opus, but it isn’t playing with the big boys, and, in my opinion, it isn’t smart.
Here’s the thing. Nobody reads my blog before it’s posted, except for me, and, as diligent as I am, and I am at least careful enough to read back what I’ve written before I post it, my sister found two typos in the last post that she read.
I know this because she told me. My sister has come to visit, which is lovely. She and I and our other sister are going out for breakfast this morning; it’ll be fab. I’m the only one of us not to be a grandmother (they are both a lot older than I am, obviously), so you see, we have long and enduring relationships with one another, which is why my sister was perfectly at liberty to point out my errors.
My sister is not much of a reader, her job doesn’t involve words or reading, and she doesn’t have any higher or further qualifications in English.
It is impossible to edit oneself for the simple reason that, having written the thing in the first instance, one knows what is supposed to be on the page, and, as a consequence one is, essentially blind to any errors that might have crept in. (I use ‘one’ because, although I’m talking about me, I am also talking about you!).
If this is true of writing and editing, and it clearly is, I can’t help thinking that there are a great many other filters between the writer and his audience that keeps him safe from most forms of ridicule. Laying out books, choosing fonts and covers, editing and proof-reading (and I’m only scraping the surface of what a publisher actually does) are skilled jobs, done by skilled people, who are paid to specialise.
If you’re a writer, and let’s assume that you are, because everyone seems to be these days... If you’re a writer, do yourself a favour and don’t think that you are also a publisher. If you honestly believe that you can do the job of at least half-a-dozen people, and do it as effectively as they can, you’re clearly delusional. Think about it, you might just be delusional about being a writer, too.