OK, blog readers, I swear I don’t mean to sound like Little Miss Crabby Pants today, but I have to admit, I have a pet peeve. It’s when people criticize books with errant commas and other grammatical sticky points for being poorly edited. Browse a few Amazon customer reviews (especially for mass market fiction books) and you’ll probably spot the sort of criticisms I mean. But why do such critiques annoy me? It’s because … wait for it … Good Editing Is Invisible!
Editing isn’t something you can see in the form of grammatically flawless sentences. If the commas in a book are perfectly placed, more often than not, that’s thanks to a good proofreader. Good proofreading is visible. Editing, on the other hand, entails things like reorganizing manuscripts to give the information in them maximum impact. It entails tweaking sentences so that they build on one another in an aesthetically pleasing way. These are things that, if we do them right, you won’t ever know we did. Instead, all you’ll see is a well-written final product. A narrative that’s emotionally moving. An author’s vision presented in its best possible light. If you can’t tell that we’ve touched a book, it means we’ve done our job!
Photos from here (Little Miss boxed set) and yours truly (edited manuscript)