Veteran writer Stephen King couldn’t have captured the essence of editing more succinctly when he said, “To write is human, to edit is divine.” Yes, editing is that vital to writing. Writing and editing are opposite sides of one coin, or twin siblings if you would.

So, if you are the curious type, like me, I imagine you’re begging to know what the ‘unpardonable sin of book publishing’ is. Don’t worry, I won’t suffer you before saying it. And it’s simple.

Publishing your book without editing it is The Greatest and Unpardonable Sin of Book Publishing.

Don’t ever do it!

Never!

Let me tell you two stories to make my point clear.

Earlier this year, one of our authors called to request that we edit the work of one of his protégés. As expert editors, among other services, we obliged. But unlike most other jobs we get, this had a compassionate twist to it because of the story our client told us.

His protégé, a lady, after completing her manuscript draft proceeded to publish without getting it edited. I recall cringing when he mentioned this. But it got worse.

You know, there are some writers whose errors you can sometimes compel yourself to endure, but that wasn’t the case for this author. The manuscript was far from comprehensible. It needed much editing to bring it up to par. And unfortunately, at the book launch, her guests were unkind with their words as she got publicly mouth-lashed for the error. To help, our client in question advised that she rework the book and referred her to us.

By the time we completed the editing and reformatted the layout of the book, she called to say she almost didn’t believe it was her book, at first sight, until she started to read.

Simply, an editor saves you from making an embarrassing public show of yourself. Publishing a book is a laudable project, one to bring you respect and admiration, so do it right so you don’t get the opposite.

Second story. Mid this year we got a call from a self-publisher in Lagos, Nigeria whose client had a similar challenge as the author in the first story above – only of lesser magnitude, perhaps. She had written a beautiful fiction story set in a native Yoruba plot. However, the editor that handled the manuscript did a poor job of it and both she and her publisher somehow missed it until she secured audience at the Lagos State Education Board where she sought for the book to add to the state’s education curriculum. Upon review, her request was declined because of poor editing, which led to calling us. We obliged happily and today her book has been proudly published, even on Amazon Kindle to reach international audiences.

I like to liken editors to surgeons. That is, editors are to books what surgeons are to humans. If you’ve ever had a successful medical procedure you should readily understand this. Still, whether you have or not, you know that at certain medical thresholds, surgery is usually the last resort for remediation. Likewise, if your book must be of great content, enjoyed by readers, and have the desired impact, you must pass it through editorial surgery. In other words, you need an expert editor to finish up your book before you proceed to publish. Failing to do this is suicidal and could result in a publishing disaster. In fact, sometimes it is recommended to have more than one layer of editing, either by the same editor going over the manuscript more than once or by having two different editors engage it one after another. As the saying goes, better safe than sorry.

In addition, another mistake most authors make is sending their manuscript to an editor just before their publishing date. That is wrong. Editing is a meticulous act and takes time, if good work will be done. So, factor in ample time for editing into your book project schedule – at least one month. For example, at SageWorks, the minimum time we give for editing is 3 weeks, and we’ve had to turn down some clients who wanted shorter timelines because they didn’t fit into our schedule. Please pay keen attention to this.

In conclusion, if you’ve written a book before, you will agree that it is tedious work. If you’ve done that much work, why don’t you finish up well? Get an expert editor. Take your book for ‘surgery’.

If you want us to edit your book or other written document, we’ll be more than happy to work with you. Simply email us now: hello@sageworks.com