There are services offered from POD subsidy outfits for the editing of the books, but this is at the author’s option. Due to the extremely high prices for this service (typically the subsidy outfit has a pool of freelance editors they utilize for it–no doubt the subsidy outfit overcharges so they, too, make a profit on top of whatever the editor is making) most authors neglect this service. Some simply don’t understand the necessity for editing and others, as mentioned, just can’t afford it. A smart author recognizes that no matter how good of a job they’ve done on their book that that book still needs to have a set of eyes that are not theirs to go over it. Editors come in two varieties: the copyeditor (who checks everything from simple punctuation and spelling to the stuff of content–continuity, clichéd sentences, inconsistent character behavior–the deeper stuff) and the proofreader (who only checks for spelling and basic grammatical issues and leaves the deeper stuff alone). Most editors charge either by the word or by the page. For myself, I charge by the word as that method is more accurate in terms of the actual work needed to be done on a particular piece as precise word count does vary from page to page. I think most authors would go for an editor, one they’d have to hire, based on a) the editor’s experience/reputation, b) the price for the service of either copyediting or proofreading. And if one is putting out their own work, affordability is a huge factor. I would ill-advise an author to utilize an editor suggested by a subsidy outfit (if I could not convince them to steer clear of the subsidy/vanity outfit altogether) as I’ve heard horror stories how even the editors these places use are of the sub par variety.
As a point of interest, I maintain a weekly webblog (blog) at http://coscomentertainment.blogspot.com The first chunk of entries deal with self-publishing, the bigger issues. (After all, you can fill a whole book on the topic of self-publishing.) One of them discusses the importance of editing. Consider having Gerhard visit the site for you and print off the articles for your own reading. Perhaps we can get a dialogue going on those items.
Your reply to my question regarding where all this “gray stuff” may have come from is very true. The Civil Rights movement having been indirectly responsible is a good assessment. The summation of your point is applicable to how we as a people (on the whole) often address our mistakes. If we err one way, we tend to overcompensate in the other direction to ensure that we don’t mess up again “just in case.” Race is a good example. We treated blacks poorly so it wound us up in a lot of trouble. Thankfully, we’re past that (unfortunately there are still those out there who hold prejudices against a person’s skin tone–garbage, if you ask me), but so we don’t screw up again, we embrace all things “different” from us (whites and/or people) so as to not “screw up” again. As noble as that intention may have started out, it’s obviously gotten sidetracked and then we’re back on the subject of the absence of absolute black and absolute white in society and are instead stuck with a bunch of gray tones for fear of messing up again. Anyone who maintains a view of “absolutes” are then labeled as extremists or fundamentalists (i.e. like many Christians are labeled as) and then we get scolded for not being “open” or “tolerant.” As mentioned in my previous letter, tolerance and “letting anything go” has been historically proven to send society on a spiral downward. It’s only a matter of time but, like you said, a process we need to go through. I can only help but wonder when we’ll “wake up” and realize that how we’ve been doing things truly isn’t the way to go. How bad will it have to get before we slap ourselves on the forehead and go, “Duh! We’re idiots and we screwed up!”? Only the future will tell, I suppose.
Anyway, I’m enjoying our talks and look forward to further correspondence. Will you be releasing a Collected Letters 2005 or was the 2004 edition a one-off thing?