Dear Author, There is no way you can get around an editor, and there is no way you can trick a reader into thinking you can edit your manuscript yourself. Readers read—which means any mistake will be obvious to them, and you risk being thrown into the did not finish (DNF) pile if you overlook editing. Editing will likely be your most expensive cost, but with good reason:
Editing is an entirely separate entity and discipline.
Note: This blog post is for people who want to make a career of writing, have a plan for a series, and know they want to be serious. Some writers are writing for fun, or publishing their first series just to share it with the world. I think sharing your story is great, but I hope that if you see massive success, that you will one day contract an editor to make your work shine. I will take you seriously and will probably try reading your book, but I cannot vouch for others, and that is why this post exists.Your work is more likely to get picked up by review blogs if you have an editor listed.
As much as I want to publish all of the books I’ve written, I cannot bring myself to self-edit. I cannot hand over an unedited book for purchase. That is completely your decision.
One of my friends who is pursing traditional publishing wasn’t sure what to call my editor in self-publishing. This illustrates the stigma of indie-publishing. I told her an editor is still an editor. I do prefer the term Indie-publishing (as Joanna Penn does) because I’m actually not self-publishing when I’m paying people to make my manuscript professional. The biggest difference is that my book is not going to be sold in Walmart, and I will have to compensate for a few other missed opportunities. Maybe quite a few, but anything is possible, right?
I am assuming, that if you are going through all of these blog entries, that you are familiar with writing and have studied, read, and love everything that makes a great book. I’m under the impression that you are familiar with literary devices such as symbolism, and onomatopoeia, and that you use them in your work in a way that is understandable to the general public. I am not here to tell you how to write (not yet, but I would love to do an intro series for new writers!) DO NOT contract for work on editing until your manuscript is as perfect as you can get it, and other people have read it. I suggest a beta reader to give you feedback if you are unsure. Do not waste your time and money. I am not blogging about good writing vs. great writing at the moment, but be sure your writing is art, and that you are ready to commit before you spend the money. Where were we?
Reasons you can’t DIY editing:
Gestalt Psychology. It’s back. Your brain essentially fills in missing words or corrects typos as you read, and it’s really strange, but true. When you proof read you will miss things because you know what they are supposed to say.
Your editor is usually not an author. It most often looks shady when your editor is also writing books in your genre. Ask them what their certifications are and look into the quality and ratings on their books. Even with an English degree, I don’t have editing certifications and love to beta read, but not to edit.
Editors take sentences piece by piece. They spend so much time on your manuscript, and that is why you are paying a lot. When you get your first edits back, you will understand the pricing.
Making changes to your manuscript will make you a better writer. One plus of being independent, means it’s not just you handing over your manuscript and letting someone else have the final say. You will receive the corrections and make them yourself, which will make you a way better writer during stage one. You will grow so much with the opportunity. While you will miss things and have to correct your manuscript another time, you will learn how to avoid certain mistakes and strengthen your writing over all.
In summary: Get an editor who is worth the investment. Some authors even have two, which would be ideal, but is often something that happens later in a writer’s career.
If you can’t afford and editor or won’t budget for it, always stay open to eventually contracting one, and make it a goal. You can go back and edit later if your main focus us getting your story out into the world.
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