Hypothetical question about editing a friend's writing.
Let's say a friend of yours is self publishing their book and they are one more step away from a final product. You know they are going to publish it, and yet they ask you to read it in the hopes of finding some last minute quick fixes. As you read it, however, you discover that their book is nowhere near completion. It's overwhelmed with spelling, grammatical and story errors that are unforgivable for a book this far along. Do you risk the friendship and tell them the truth to spare them embarrassment, or do you go easy on it to spare their feelings?
If you are a professional editor, or even professional enough to know the difference, then tell your friend before it's too late. In fact, spelling errors, mistakes in grammar and punctuation and typos represent only half of potential problems. The rest is in context errors. Just one suggestion by my publisher's editor made a huge difference in sales. It was about content, not typos.
Anyone interested in being published (especially in being self-published) must hire the most competent, talented and experienced editor possible. I cannot overestimate the criticality of this.
Recently I asked a friend to edit a novelette for me. He did not find much errors in it but he did make a few (3 to be exact) minor story changes. If he had found many mistakes and story errors I would have loved for him to tell me right there and then.
As a friend it is our responsibility to tell the truth. A true friend will understand that you are only doing what's best for them. Wouldn't it be better if you tell them than someone reviewing the book? Imagine an Amazon review that reads:
"This author needs to go back to school because he cannot spell. I could hardly read through the first four chapters as the story was rife with spelling and grammatical mistakes......etc"
I think you should tell them let them fix it and publish a book that people will want to read. Soften the blow by offering to help them polish the story.
Go easy and you do risk a squabble! If they've got something between their ears they'll see your point - and maybe thank you for putting them right in time. From the friend's point of view, there's nothing worse than somebody telling you they've done the editing on your work and you get laughed out of the publisher's office. The upshot of that is you never try it again. Not many get it right first time.
if your friend asked you to read their work for corrections,... then do so,.... they have entrusted you, their friend to a huge task,... don’t let them down. they’ve trusted YOU,.. live up to that trust.
help them fix spelling and grammatical errors, and rather than pointing out story line problems, instead you might ask questions,.. questions that might come to the mind of the average reader,.. and the answer to those questions will fix the story line issues,
don’t let your friend self publish something that is less than they should,.. don’t let your friend spend hard earned $$ on an unfinished product,.... however,..... if the story in and of itself is awful,... help with spelling and grammar and time line problems,... but keep the OPINION to yourself,.. its your job to fix spelling, grammar, and time line,... don’t explore characters, or ask existential questions.
hope i helped
Friends tell friends the truth (unless the friend is say under 17). Any stranger can fib, avoid the issue, or otherwise not care enough to be helpfully candid.
If someone is going into a business meeting with their fly unzipped, their bra showing or their blouse improperly buttoned, and you point it out -- are you hurting their feelings or helping them? Same thing here....
I would be angry with a friend who would let me put out a book that gets Amazon reviews like "This would have been a great book if it didn't look like it was written and edited by a third grader." If you're a friend worth having, you'll be honest. But you know creatives are often insecure about our work, so break it gently.
It's a difficult situation- that's precisely why one should never give a friend a book to edit. It's very likely that a friend will hold back on potentially hurful truths...the reality is that yes, you may lose this friendship, if you tell the truth. On other hand, how can you say nothing? Diplomacy helps- but a friend will always paint a better picture, because they don't want to hurt you.
M.T. What would you want ?
As difficult as it may be you need to be honest with your friend. You don't have to beat him over the head with his errors but as a friend you should point out that the book is not ready and the reasons why.
I would tell them, it will help them more than hurt them. The writing world can be harsh, you could go over the mistakes with them and explain to them how to make the proper corrections.
Be gentle, but since they asked I would discuss with the how much "opinion" they want.
Find something good about the novel and start with that; I love your characters but I have to let you know there are some errors. Should I tell you what they are?
Only because the friends asked. If she didn't ask, mum's the word.
Certainly I will tell her. For her own good as well as my reputation, but as someone mentioned I would be gentle. Also, if my friend ever found out that I lied to her just to spare her feelings it could mean the end of our friendship.
It's not much of a friendship if you can't give them the advice they need in order to be successful, especially since they asked for feedback. Be honest, but be kind. Be truthful, but try to help. Honesty is almost always the best policy. They will thank you in the end.
Absolutely, this is a no brainer. Don't even hesitate to speak truth here, it wont make it anywhere without your opinion anyways. In the same way unreadable hubs will not succeed, just not as embarrasing as a book
I would assume that if a friend asks you to read their work, it is because your advice matters. So, what kind of friend would you be if you weren't telling the truth about it right now ? Of course, put kid gloves on and break it gently. In other words, you can pay now, or pay later if the book is published with all kinds of errors in it and you get blamed for it because your advice was asked.
Be polite but be completely honest.
There is little I hate more than friends or family telling me they just LOVE something that I know has a lot of flaws.
I want to know before its too late, you only get 1 first impression,,, it better be good!
What a tough question to answer...I was once told to "Keep my friends close and my enemies closer." So what does that mean? Well, one way to interpret it is that your enemies just could be more honest than friends. Think about it. Friends may put your feelings first and so avoid any attempt to hurt you, whereas your enemies have no qualms about telling you just how much they hate your guts. With that said, yes, your enemies are more honest than your friends [sic].
I guess that all of this depends on what kind of person you are and who you decide to befriend in this world. If it were that my fly was open or that I had a booger hanging out of my nose, I'd count on my friends around me to tell me that it's so to stave off the criticism, disdain, and mockery that is soon to follow from the other people around me. These are the friends I want to have around me and want to surround myself with. So on the same token, if I screw up a plot line, punchline, or a storyline, then by golly, I want to know about it. I want to know if my hair piece is lopsided, or that my skinny jeans are just too damn skinny, dammit. In my opinion, it's my friends' duty to let me know these things. I mean for christ, what do I pay them for?
Your friend has devoted many hours to their project. If I spent that much time on a piece I would want my editor friend to tell me what needs work. You won't spare them embarrassment if something they spent so much time on comes out sub par. They asked you to edit to save them from potential embarrassment. With honesty, you will be a good friend and a diligent editor.
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