Thursday, July 29, 2010

Editing and Marketing: Are they related?

Years ago, a popular song compared love and marriage to a horse and carriage. Needless to say, editing and marketing were not then—nor are they now—similarly compared. Why?

Love, marriage; horse, carriage: They all have a positive connotation . . . or, at least, a romantic one. Author and editor, however, have never been part of either equation. Why? “Editor” seems to conjure up thoughts of red pens and resistance rather than feelings of warmth and fuzziness. Yet a book without an editor is like a year without springtime. Furthermore, an author without an editor is going to limp through the marketing maze with little hope of even nearing the peak of the sales mountain.

Does that sound a bit dramatic? Consider this: Hundreds of thousands of books are available through brick and mortar stores and online outlets. A significant number of those are vying for the same buyers—the same readers—we are. And we are not Nicholas Sparks, James Patterson, Nora Roberts, Tess Gerritsen, Danielle Steel, J. K. Rowling, Stephen King, John Grisham . . . you get the idea. It’s an uphill battle. Realistically, the odds are against us. However, we can reduce those odds by making one simple alliance. We need an editor—the right editor—to give us a marketing edge.

We all know that word of mouth is our best advertising. It’s also our worst. How so? We can have the highest powered promotion in the world. Our cover may grab every eye that passes over it. But if our content doesn’t measure up, all the rest of this means nothing. We offer a product. If our product is of poor quality, it will brand us as not worthy of a reader’s time or money. This is not the kind of branding that will make our books consistent sellers. You can’t tell a book by its cover, so the saying goes. But if we have a great cover, we’d better have great content. Our readers need to know that they can tell our books by their covers. They’re always going to be a fantastic read.

Love, marriage; horse, carriage; author, editor: What do you think?


Linda Lane is a writer/editor/publisher who specializes in helping other writers to develop their full potential. Learning to write well is a lifelong process, but the rewards of seeing it through are among the greatest of a lifetime. Word art stimulates the reader's imagination and takes her to places she's never been. It influences thought and feeling and can move mountains of metalities when used to the max. This lays an awesome responsibility on the shoulders of a writer.


  1. As I reread this post, I realized the marketing/editing connection may not be as clearly linked to the author/editor connection as I had intended. I apologize for failing to clarify that they go hand in hand. Without a positive and effective author/editor relationship, no amount of marketing is likely to make a book a bestseller.

    Perhaps the last paragraph might better read like this: love, marriage; horse, carriage; author, editor; editing, marketing. It's a stepwise progression to the book sales we all want.

  2. There's also the satisfaction of honing the craft and delivering the reader the best possible experience. Never perfect, never merely product--but the best we can do.

    Scott Nicholson

  3. You're quite right, Scott, it must always be the best we can do. But on the shelves at Borders, BN, etc., and even on Amazon, our books are product, inventory, and they need to sell. This in no way demeans or negates the process of honing the craft to give our readers a fantastic experience. Sometimes our books take them as far as they ever get to go in their lives. We need to make those trips memorable.

  4. I always have someone look over the free stories and sections that I post to my website. I just posted one of my short stories on Smashwords as a marketing tool. I hired a copy editor to go through it.

    What shocked me was how many people asked "why." I ask, why would I not? I don't always have the best grammar skills. I miss words. I think a sentence makes sense, but it doesn't. An entire plot line might be off.

    The free things - especially the free things - are meant to entice people to purchase my work. It would be a poor reflection on me, as an author, if I didn't put my absolute best foot forward.

    I 100% agree that the editing process is vital to being about to survive the word of mouth marketing out there.

  5. Having an editor is so important! An editor not only catches those blunders that we can't see anymore because we as writers are too close to the text (and we are not perfect) but a good editor can really help you make your story work. I'm an Indie author and I have been reading a lot of new independent authors lately. Most of them are very talented but few of them seemed to have their work edited. And that's a pity. There are gems of genius in their stories, but the writers often lack some basic skills. A good editor could help them make their work shine. You learn from your mistakes, but if nobody points them out to you, you tend to repeat them over and over again and you never get to that next step. And the reader feels: "Gee, this could be a really good book, if only . . ."


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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