If you are looking to self-publish your work, you may be tempted to cut costs by skipping on professional editing. Here’s our advice to you – DON’T! The thrill of having written the closing chapter makes it very tempting to just publish it right away. We understand that thrill. But a professional writer knows that no first (or even second) draft is ready to be published yet.
So, you’ve spent the last year developing your story, sitting at your desk every day typing away at your masterpiece one chapter at a time. Now, your manuscript sits printed and stacked on clean, crisp white paper and you breathe a sigh of relief. Not so fast. It’s not over yet. Sure, take a day or two to celebrate; the work you put in deserves reward. However, every book needs to be edited. In fact, it’s helpful to have an editor at every stage of the process, from beginning to end. Publishing houses employ quality editors for a reason, because they are an essential piece of the publishing puzzle. Don’t think that because you are self-publishing, that an editor is unnecessary or a luxury you can’t afford.
The truth is, most writers treat their manuscript like a newborn baby, and for good reason. You have sat there stewing over character plots, back story, dialogue and grammar from day one. Chances are you have read the same sentences a dozen times or more. The truth is the natural process of writing lends itself to a few errors. Writers simply skip over misspellings and mistakes because they are reading what they think they see. When an editor gets their hands on your book, they are reading those words for the first time. They have a fresh perspective that no one else does. They are trained like word detectives to find even the smallest errors, and they aren’t afraid to make the changes necessary for the sentences to appeal to the reader.
Some writers, particularly first time authors, have a hard time with the editing process. They say, “I don’t need an editor”, but really this is their pride talking. It’s hard to hand over your beautiful piece of art, and think somebody might steamroll over it with a giant red pen. People become intimidated. They think their work must be perfect or it is otherwise unworthy. If an editor finds something wrong, it feels like a blow to their self-esteem as a writer. While this is understandable, allowing this emotion to take precedence is not the way to find ultimate success with your finished book. If there are errors in your manuscript (and there are) would it not be better to have an editor discover your problems before your audience does?
A common misconception is that all editors do is find misspelled words, and some writers think doing this job themselves is an easy, cheap option. However, editors do much more than that. In fact, there are four different kinds of editors.
Copyeditors – Copyediting involves fixing problems with formatting, accuracy of text and style. They are supposed to make sure the book is clear, concise, correct, consistent and comprehensible. This involves much more than just checking your spelling. They make sure that when your audience is reading your story; the words are making sense to them and taking them along the intended journey of the author.
Proofreaders – This is where the red pen comes in. Proofreaders are usually the last stop before production. They find the grammatical errors, misspellings and typographical errors that can happen during typing and printing.
Substantive Editors – Substantive editors help you with restructuring sentences, changing chapter names, headlines and sub-headlines to be more attractive to readers or to make more sense with the book’s theme and makes sure there are no gaps in the storyline or missing information that will confuse the reader.
Developmental Editor – They help develop the ideas and structure of your story. Developmental editing is particularly important for fiction writing, because they can help give you a different perspective about your characters and plot while you are developing them. They help you see into your story differently, and having these insights at the beginning will keep you from having to rewrite chapters later on in the process.
Some service providers specialize in one category and others can provide all four. Finding a good editor that you use throughout your writing process for all of your books is a sure bet to succeeding in the publishing business. How many times while writing your book have you debated back and forth with a story element, with a plot twist, with developing a character and wished you had a best friend with a degree in English with hours of free time to help you. Your editor is that friend. They can be your permanent literary soundboard, deflecting bad ideas and nurturing good ones. They will tell you when the something is going awry in the plot. They point out things that friends, spouses and even yourself might look over, like how your protagonist’s cousin Mary is introduced with red hair in the third chapter but suddenly becomes a blond in Chapter 7. They’ll let you know when the dialogue doesn’t match the character, when you ramble on for too long and even when your title leaves something to be desired. Remember, it was an editor that saved Of Mice and Men from becoming Something That Happened and The Great Gatsby from the name Trimalchio’s Banquet. Having an editor will ensure that embarrassing tid-bits don’t make their way into your final paperback. Paying an editor now will ensure book sales in the future instead of refunds.
Besides, after all that work and effort, it doesn’t make sense to sabotage your masterpiece right before it goes out into the world. Let your editor find the mistakes, and your readers enjoy your words for years to come.
Tips for Hiring a Professional Editor
1) Ask for referrals. Ask your writing friends, make enquiries from publishers, look within your literary network first.
2) Look at the editor’s credentials. Has she worked on books that have been published in your genre? Do they have testimonials from satisfied clients? Can you see evidence of her experience and know-how? How many of her clients have published books?
3) Is the editor asking you the right questions about your work? A good editor will want to make sure that the work is a good fit for them too. They look for projects where they know they can make a difference, and feel like they can work with a writer in a meaningful way.
(c) Accomplish Press
Are you planning to self-publish your book? Many writers who are new to self-publishing, get into it with the wrong ideas, or they listen to the wrong advice. That’s why I’ve written this FREE ebook: “15 Common Mistakes Self-Publishing Authors Make (And How To Avoid Them)”. It’s full of practical advice for new writers who want to self-publish their work. Click here to download this FREE ebook now!