Most writers know the importance of being read for critique. That's why writer's groups exist - and there is nothing like the experience of having your peers peer over your shoulder and watch or help your process take shape. There is no doubt this is something beneficial, something every writer should do. Comes a time, though, when watching or experiencing the process is finished, when it is time to move on, time to take what you have written, claim it as your own, and go forth.

A good critique is not what I mean by authoring by committee. Good critiquing by peers is most valuable in the earliest stages of a work, especially a non-fiction work. Qualified critiquing, by which I mean fact checking and editing by a serious professional in those fields is the final step in book preparation. In between those two, it is you alone, the author singular.

I can't tell you how many times since I began publishing books in 1996 I have had a book release delayed by an author who is passing a book around to friends and family for "final edits". In every case I want to scream: Have you ever asked friends and family to do your hair? Fix your teeth? Solve your tax problems? For some reason we think that anyone who can read and has finished some upper level education is a qualified editor. Too many authors get to this stage and step back from the process, allowing themselves and their vision to become muddled in the advice of others.

The same holds true for authoring a web site, making any kind of public appearance, or introducing yourself and your ideas at a convention... The important middle step has to be taken alone. First and last steps reflect the advice of others: First those closest to what you want to project, and last those whose qualified advice can help you turn what you are making into a real success.

Treating yourself to a good editor and a qualified fact checker is an experience you will never forget. Standing up for the YOU in your book, or site, or speech is another such experience. I have been on both sides of the editing experience and, as a writer, I am always amused that every time I look at those red marks on a page of my priceless prose I balk. When I read the page again, with the changes made, I usually conclude that it is better.

This experience is something I bring to my own professional editing and publishing: I know that feeling of proprietary pride and I value it for my authors. You will find that same attitude at LadybugPress: Our site doesn't look like any other on the Internet. We know what we want to say to our visitors and we won't budge from that stand, even though we have evolved and changed over the years.

When I design other sites (or produce audio programs), I try to capture that same respect for the singular behind the image, and the personality and needs of both owner and visitors. The middle step, though, has to be taken by the site owner or the work of a professional is of no use. The core of what you offer is always the person or organization the site will represent.

It is important to distinguish between the I and the we of any effort. Both are necessary if we are to grow, but for a project that will carry the stamp of your personality it is essential to make a clear distinction.

Author's Bio: 

In 1995 Georgia Jones founded LadybugPress, a book publishing company that focuses on the needs and interests of women, and then in 2005 she created NewVoices, Inc. an arts and entertainment corporation. Georgia Jones is an author, instructor, and advocate for women’s rights.

Jones' published work includes the novel In Line at the Lost and Found and the non-fiction book The Real Dirt on the American Dream: Home Ownership and Democracy under the pseudonym Adrianna Long. She has authored a book on writing, Write What You Know, based on writing workshops she has developed and led since 1995. Write What You Know was described as "a book that can be used and enjoyed by the new writer looking for guidance, or is a book for the seasoned pro in search of a fresh outlook.” Her poetry has been compared to that of Alanis Morrisette, and to Hilda Doolittle and Canto.

There are multiple LadybugPress/NewVoices web sites: an online magazine and three Internet Radio sites. Jones’ interest in audio began in 1992 when two of her plays, A Stitch in Time and The Usual Suspects, were produced for radio through Shoestring Radio Theatre, distributed nationally to NPR affiliates through Radio Works and Audio Services for the Blind. Prior to that production, A Stitch in Time and a musical, The Porters, which she wrote with composer, Lewis MacAllister were produced.

Jones newest novel, Isabelle’s Appetite, will be available in the spring, but she emphasizes that most of her time right now is spent helping new writers. She has always believed in the importance of self expression and her recent workshops have been focused on journaling, something she believes to be vital to a creative maturity.