You are reading along, ready to enjoy your new book, and slowly—or with a bam!—you realize something is not right here. Your reading experience takes a nose dive. Then you either struggle to finish the book or you abandon it altogether. Too bad; this might have been a good read.
Guess what! Authors are not the only ones who genuinely care about readers like you and do everything they can to ensure you have the best reading experience possible. So do most editorial professionals, and here's how I know they have made a difference in the books you will read this year.
1. Editorial professionals don’t mind collectively spending months on a book readers consume in hours. It's kind of like I imagine it is for gourmet chefs when they spend hours preparing a gourmet meal that then disappears within the space of an hour. The chef is still pleased everyone enjoyed what he or she produced. For a book that releases in 2015, editorial professionals have probably been working with the author on the manuscript at least since early in 2014. Yes, sometimes a production schedule is expedited, but caring about editorial excellence means not skipping any part of the process, to help ensure the reader experience is worth the time.
2. Editorial professionals work just as hard for a few readers as for thousands. Even if a book with a great message is projected to have limited appeal, every reader benefits from the work of several editorial professionals on that book: acquisition and development editors, production editors, managing editors, line and copy editors, and proofreaders—and maybe more. Every writer needs an editor, and every editor needs a proofreader, and every book needs all these people!
3. Editorial professionals make recommendations and changes not for the author but for the reader. At each of several stages, editorial professionals ask questions like these on behalf of the reader: Is the structure helpful? Is the writing as strong as it could be? Does the book's message come across as clearly as possible? Will the final product be free of most if not all errors? For fiction, do the story, timeline, characterization, plot, and so on all work together to make a compelling read? If the answer to any of these questions is no, there is more work to do!
After I had worked a couple of years in a publishing house, my husband observed that I didn’t have to read a book to be entertained by it. In a bookstore, he would hear me say, “Hey, look at that lenticular image on the cover.” Or after opening a book, “Look at all that white space and big type.” Those are visual aspects of a printed book any reader can see, even if they don’t notice or care. But I doubt—as a prejudiced editorial professional, of course—those physical elements are quite as important as content (the author’s responsibility) and editorial excellence (the publisher’s responsibility . . . even the self-publisher).
Now that you know what editorial professionals will have brought to your experience, happy, excellent 2015 reading!
Do you know any editorial professionals who care about excellence for the reader? If you do, give one a shout out with a tag somewhere online today!