Ask the Editor Series, Q10
Q: Should authors worry about editing their blog posts?
A1: I mean, you get what you pay for . . .
A2: There seem to be two sides to this one, and I’m not sure why it’s even a question because it shouldn’t be that complicated.
I can’t begin to list how often I’ve seen this question pop up in writers’ groups, and since I recently had a . . . spirited discussion . . . with a stranger about it, I thought this would be the appropriate place to
vent look into it further.
The above-mentioned exchange happened in an online group. An author mentioned that she’d recently hired an editor to polish her blog posts. She said she was very happy with the editor and wished she’d made the move sooner.
Most people in the group were encouraging and positive. I was one of them, of course, because not only do I offer that service myself, but as an editor, I believe everyone should have a second set of eyeballs on any work that is meant for the public. In fact, I send this column and my regular blog posts to at least one or two writer friends so they can read for content, clarity, and typos before I publish. Every dang time.
But there’s always someone in every crowd, right? And in this particular crowd, that man was the lone voice of negativity. If I recall correctly, he not only disagreed, but ridiculed the OP, saying it sounded like a “serious waste of money” to hire someone to “fix” blog posts. The author responded that anything she put in the public eye should be the best it can be, and I completely agree with her.
When you write, you want to tell a story that reaches your reader in such a way that they remember your story AND you. If the primary goal is for the reader to see and enjoy your work, then the follow-up goal should be for them to come back for more, whether that means buying your second book, rereading and recommending your first one, generating blog traffic, or growing your author platform.
You write what you love, but the bottom line is that you write for the reader.
“But,” you may argue, “I’m not making any money from my blog posts, so people need to understand that they get what they pay for. My books are edited.”
Yes and no.
Your readers will forgive a typo or two, even in a 500-word blog post. But if your posts are consistently showing typos, grammar issues, incorrect punctuation and other oopses, you may end up losing readers who don’t trust you to put out a whole book that’s free of those problems.
In the editing world, we’re careful to not call out a typo in a private group’s Facebook discussion, because we understand all about fat-finger syndrome and fast phone typing just like anyone else, and we can all see and groan when we make those mistakes. But if another editor has errors on their website or other professional copy, we have no qualms about contacting that person privately to make them aware. This is our bread and butter, after all, and if we can’t get it right on our own pages, no one will trust us with theirs.
The same should apply to writers. The reader-writer relationship is all about trust. They trust that you will not kill off their favorite character for no good reason, and you trust that they will love your work and give it a five-star review. They also trust that you’re going to write an excellent story that’s readable because it’s as error-free as a human can make it.
That trust is broken if they don’t see consistently good writing on your blog posts and social media. You can shout all you want about how your books are great, but if your blog posts don’t reflect that same great writing, then there’s no reason for the reader to invest in your book(s).
It doesn’t have to cost a lot, either. Editors do this type of thing for a low cost, often with a package that includes a certain number of words or hours per piece, per month, or similar. Writing friends may do it for free, and you might find that it’s a good way to trade services.
No matter how you manage it, take the extra moment to have someone else read through your posts. The long-term investment is worth it.
Happy writing! And feel free to submit your questions here so I can answer them in a future post.
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