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Print on Demand Demands Editing

by Faith Brynie

Finally, your book is finished. You punch the "SAVE" button for what you hope will be the last time and settle back with a sigh of relief. You've completed that work of fiction or nonfiction that's been on your mind for months, perhaps years. It's an idea that demanded release, a story that had to be told. And now you have told it--from preface to epilogue.

Now, nothing stands between you and your reading audience. Technology has opened the door for direct, instantaneous delivery of your book to all who choose to read it. The technology is called Print on Demand (POD), and it's a writer's dream come true. Gone are the days when authors wasted months drafting query letters, wooing agents, getting past first readers, and filing rejection slips.

POD lets you, the writer, communicate immediately and person-to-person with your reader. No picky editor stands in the way. You can gleefully skip the editing step, happy to save the time, money, and effort that good editing requires. Or can you? Take our one-minute, self-test to find out:

Agree or disagree:

  1. I know how to use affect and effect correctly as both nouns and verbs, and I would never confuse an emigrant with an immigrant.
  2. I am absolutely sure I know the difference between an ordinary appositive and one with a restrictive function.
  3. I have never in my entire life misplaced a modifier or dangled a participle.
  4. I would never leave a comma out of a compound sentence or put one into a compound predicate.
  5. I know exactly how to handle adverbial phrases, verb tenses, foreign phrases, plural possessives, semi-colons, and hyphenated adjectives.

Give yourself one point for each "Agree." If you score less than five, think about these ten reasons why a professional edit before POD may be right for you:

  1. POD goes out "as-is." What you write is what the consumer reads—word for word, line for line, page for page. Whatever mistakes you make in the original are there for the entire world to see.
  2. Selective sight. All writers make mistakes—even the bestselling, big names. In re-reading and double-checking, the human brain sees what was intended, not necessarily what is actually there. It takes a fresh eye to spot problems the author missed. That's what editors are for.
  3. Time. Let your manuscript sit for a year and then return to it. You'll see problems that you never realized were there. If you don't want to wait a year, contract for a professional edit.
  4. Competitive edge. Readers know good writing from bad. A smooth, well-edited book will sell, while a choppy, error-laden one won't.
  5. People talk. Friends tell friends what to buy through POD. Errors of grammar, punctuation, style, or construction will keep even the best story out of a POD shopping cart.
  6. POD costs money. You'll pay just as much to have a mistake-heavy book published as one that is clean, correct, and readable.
  7. Pride. If the world is going to see your book with your name on it, shouldn't it be the best work you are capable of?
  8. Reputation. Beginning authors can establish a reputation through POD. A bad POD book ruins a career before it ever starts.
  9. Opportunities.  A clean, readable POD book can open doors to the broader (and potentially more lucrative) world of mass market publishing.
  10. Profit. Quality sells. Enough said?

From dedication to postscript, your story demanded to be told. Now it demands a top-quality edit. Then—and only then—can you breathe that final sigh of relief, knowing that your Print-on-Demand book will be as good as you and your professional editor can make it.