Nature loves to trip me up. Last week we had glorious weather for February: sunny skies, mild temperatures. And I had the flu.

Not only did I have the flu, but my husband got it, too. Eight days later, I’m still coughing, still exhausted, still careful about what I even consider eating.

This season’s flu virus is no joke, folks. It’s ugly.

So, while I continue to slowly recuperate, I’m also dealing with more bad news which will mean a substantial cut to my income.

How do I cheer myself up?

Periodically, I hop on Author Central to check for book reviews. This typically isn’t a good method for cheering myself up. I call it my regular dose of humility because it keeps me humble.

Like every author, I’m a needy little soul who craves validation and praise, glowing, gushing praise. Like every author, I don’t necessarily get what I want. I did, however, see several new reviews, most for the Triune Brides Alliance series. One of the books received both a 5-star and a 2-star review … for the same reason. One reader disliked that harsh touch of reality; the other reader found it poignant.

I will say that, overall, reviews of that book show readers either love it or hate it. There is no in-between, no neutrality, no “meh” responses.

Actually, I think most of my books strike readers that way.

While I’ve been languishing in an influenza-induced stupor, I have not been writing. I’ve done quite a bit of reading, though. I’ve deleted more books from my Kindle than I’ve completed while languishing on the sofa. One of those books was simply atrocious from the first paragraph. By the end of the first page, I was ready to set fire to my Kindle and pummel the author who thought that horrible, terrible, no good, awful manuscript was worthy of public consumption.

I seldom have such a strong reaction to a book, but that book was truly a spectacular failure of the craft and a sterling example as to why editing matters.

I encounter a lot of hostility toward editors from authors demanding editors justify the cost of their service through ROI in book sales. Those authors do not understand that the value of editing manifests after the book is sold. Competent editing doesn’t sell books; it retains readers.

Cover design, an intriguing cover blurb, social media marketing, advertising: these are oriented toward selling the book. This is marketing. Marketing, by the way, does not guarantee book sales; it increases the likelihood that books will be sold. No one can guarantee book sales.

Editing is not marketing, although good marketing copy is well-edited. Editing contributes to the reader’s experience while he or she is reading the book. Absent or poor editing is glaring and makes content unpleasant to navigate; good editing is invisible and removes the obstacles to reading. Good editing shows the reader that the author cares about the reader and values his or her work.

Here’s another analogy.

Remember the old BASF commercial: “We don’t make the things you buy; we make the things you buy better.” That’s what editing does. It makes your content better.

If you’re writing a book and you care about your readers, then hire a professional editor.

Let’s talk.