Have you ever written an important email or an assignment and had either been too lazy or so pressed for time that you did not re-read it? I have. And then, as you re-read it after it’s sent or turned in, you see some pretty glaring and obvious typos and grammatical errors. There are few things more embarrassing than making easy mistakes doing a craft that you claim to be extremely well versed in. In our world of spell check, one error could completely throw away your credibility. It’s human nature to make mistakes, but that’s why we need to be both writer and editor in one.
As I’ve said before, I think it is crucial to the flow of your writing process to write drafts without stopping to re-think or edit. But once you have prepared something that will be read by others, you must put on your editing hat and put your best foot forward.
I probably need to take my own advice more than anyone. To me, it is almost painful to re-read my work. I become instantly critical of what I have written, and am always afraid I sound silly. Instead, I live in the fantasy that I just created the perfect piece, and that there could possibly be nothing wrong with it. Arrogant, I know. And obviously, I am human and make a bunch of mistakes. So really, I am just shooting myself in the foot by thinking this way.
I am divulging this embarrassing truth about my poor editing process only because I want you to learn from it. I have made enough mistakes that I should learn from it too. We all are striving to be the best writers we can be, so why not take the extra time to read over what we have written. It might be uncomfortable, but it will save you a world full of hurt after you realize that you would have just sent that text on to a reader without fixing the six errors you just caught after reading it again.
Also, take some time in between when you put the pen down and when you take the time to edit. It is so important to come to a piece with fresh eyes and a new attitude. You will see your writing differently from if you just finished it eleven seconds ago and immediately go back to read it. You will still be in writing mode. Allow your brain to switch to editing mode so that you can focus on reading it word for word, rather than just reading what you know should be there.
If we all take a little more time to edit, we will be able to put forth our best writing possible. No matter what the context of your writing is, I think we can agree that accuracy and mastery of the craft shows just as much talent and dedication as the content of the piece. Do yourself a favor and take the time to edit, you’ll thank yourself for it!
Beginning a career in the publishing industry can be difficult because there seems to be a thousand different paths to go down. But that is really what makes the publishing industry so awesomely unique. In my last semester at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, about to have a degree in English Literature, I had a tough decision to make. I had no idea how to break into the industry. Where would I even start? So, I researched entry points.
I had to decide if I wanted to find an unpaid internship or attend a summer course to earn a publishing certificate. Publishing certificate programs are different than earning a master's degree in publishing. One of the most well known programs is NYU’s Summer Publishing Institute. It is a six-week program held over the summer. The goal of this program is to teach the students about all the different aspects of publishing as well as give many opportunities for networking with other publishing professionals. The NYU website states that in their program, “Students create actual launch plans for new magazine brands and imprints for book publishing houses, and learn from having their projects judged by a panel of senior publishing executives.” The program costs a little over $5,000. Other similar programs exist at Columbia University and the Denver Publishing Institute. The point of these programs is to give you the experience you would need to succeed in a full time job in the publishing industry as well as the networking opportunities to meet the people who can help you get the job. This experience seems ideal; I just lacked the money and time to go and do it.
The other option is to take on an internship for a publishing house or journal where you learn about the industry in a real life setting. Most of these positions are paid little to no money. Some offer academic credit for college students, but what you are really gaining from these positions is experience. Most full time job openings ask that the candidates they are considering have at least one year of experience in a professional publishing environment. Getting hands on, real life experience is one of the best ways to learn. Many of these internships can also lead to full time jobs depending on the situation. And even if it doesn’t, it is still a great way to meet other publishing professionals and network. You can also do multiple part time internships in different positions. You can work on an academic journal, literary journal, trade publisher, or educational publisher. I have had the opportunity to be a part of a few different publications and feel that the internships have given me a well-rounded education in the publishing industry.
Publishing programs and internships are both great ways to gain valuable experience in publishing. They are also things that employers look for on a résumé that would put you above other candidates. Either route you take, you can still end up where you want to be if you are determined.
One of the many freedoms that come with finishing school is that no one forces you to read anymore. Some unfortunate people decide that this will be the last time they ever pick up a book, but for the rest of us, this means that we finally have a say in what we invest our time in. Reading can now be purely for enjoyment! A fantastic concept! Now, there can be no doubt that some of the texts that were forced upon us as students were good, solid literature that could be used to teach lessons or even just to instill a passion for literature. For some it succeeded and some it failed. On the other hand, I think every single person who has gone through a high school English class can think of a book or two that they wanted to throw out the window and never look at again. It is because of these books that some people never want to read again.
Obviously, individuals have different things that they do and do not want to read about. I do not envy teachers for having to pick a reading list, especially when there is bound to be at least one unenthusiastic student out there somewhere. Literature lovers are either made or destroyed because of mandatory reading requirements. No one likes to be told what to do.
Thankfully, we can put that dark time behind us, and forge into territory where we can choose which literary path we take. There are so many books and different types of literature out there that someone who seeks it can never be at a loss for something good, something they like. And, when you find a bad one, toss it! Life is too short to read things we don’t want to. We all got our fair share in high school; it is time to take the reins!
With this newfound freedom, it is important to try many different genres. Stick your toe into different pools and see which ones are the perfect temperatures. Just how different people can handle different levels of spice in their foods, different people are attracted to certain genres and not to others; your brother’s favorite book in the whole world might be extremely dull or distasteful to you, just as yours may be just as boring for him. There is beauty in owning your choice of literature and being proud of it! I personally love both science fiction as well as classic British literature. I am not afraid to try other books, but I know that there are very few in those genres that will disappoint me. I am aware of my interests.
I once promised myself that if I picked up a book, I would make sure I finished it. After slogging through a couple of clunkers, I realized that rather than drawing me in, these books were pushing me away from wanting to read. Everyone loves when they have a book where they can’t wait for the next available moment to crack it open again, and you are excited when you have more than ten minutes to devote to it. Though it is unrealistic to think that every single book you ever read is going to keep you on the edge of your seat, it is worth trying, because the exhilaration of knowing that the story is going to captivate you is something unique and should never be passed up, just because a silly promise you made to yourself (probably while in the middle of some great book that you didn’t want to end).
With jobs, family, and a countless number of responsibilities and things that pull on our time, the book that we choose to stay up an extra half hour at night for (though we may regret it in the morning) should be exhilarating and stimulating, rather than just another drain on our energy. We should look forward to reading before bed to relax, and even the thought of a whole afternoon of reading should be a great thing, rather than a chore. I’ve had this experience as well. I look at the book I am reading and say “oh, great”. Where is the joy in that?
I say that now is the time to take our freedom and use it. I say that you owe it to yourself to find the literature that you can engage in, and read like it is the last book you will ever see! Only you know what you will like, not your 11th grade teacher, so now that you can all make your own choices, it is time to be selfish and read to your heart’s content, because that’s what literature should do: make your heart content.
Keep U.P. Alive
Unsolicited Press is a beast that runs on good energy and dedicated editors and staff. Your donation helps pay these folks when books don't sell or we just break even. You see, our staff doesn't get paid until the bills and the authors are paid -- and sometimes that means we make pennies...we don't mind it, but your support really helps keep us afloat.
Order a Book, Save AN Author
You can buy our books through our website or from any major retailer in the nation. Some retailers take longer than others to acquire our books.
Subscribe or Die
Listen to Literature
Most of our editors cherish our subscription with Audible. Right now they are offering free trials and a free audiobook. This is a great place to listen to Baxter's "The Art of Subtext." Think about it.