Quite a few other indie authors and bloggers have written their fair share about the importance of editing. I guess I will add my piece to the pile. It is exceptionally important for any new author to understand how important it is to edit their book before releasing it to the world.
Indie authors have a stigma: Indie authors don’t edit their books.
This is not true of every indie out there, but yet there are some indies who don’t edit their books. Sure we can’t afford to have our books edited with six rounds of edits by book editors like James Rollins for example, but we still need our book edited by a professional editor.
There is so much an author can do on their own in editing. We are too close to our work. We need someone to double check us and point out our problems so we can work on them and grow as writers to perfect our craft. It’s not always fun, but it will only help, not kill us. We have to do most of the edits on our own and it takes skill, but we still can’t do all of it effectively.
We should have the goal to be error free, that’s the ideal. In reality it doesn’t always work out that way. There is always one or two that slip through. But, the fewer the better. It happens to traditionally published books as well. Traditionally published doesn’t equal error free either. I have seen/heard of badly edited traditionally published books as well.
Professional editors don’t include your friend with an English major, your local newspaper editor, your mom, or you English professor at college. Spellcheck is not the silver bullet either!
There is a misconception that publishing an ebook doesn’t require an edit. It is the books of today and more people are buying them. It is another format or form of your book. They should be treated with the same care as a print version!
It does take some searching, but as you grow your network, you will start to find editors.
However, you will probably want to save your workings with that professional editor for LAST! They will fix most of the nit-picky technical stuff or content problems that you and your critique partners missed and apply the final polish. Critique partners are essentially other authors who will read you work and give feedback and comments on content or other aspects of editing.
After you have done your own edits and rewrites, ask your author friends if they would like to “critique read” your book. They can help you with your content to find out if your book makes sense, lulls in the action, repetition, etc. There are also critique groups that you can find through social media or Google. Reach out! If you make friends with other authors, ask them who they work with and if you can work with them too.
After working with your critique partner(s), you will probably be doing some rewrites and more of your own edits. Only you can determine if/when you are ready to submit to the editor.
Tip: There is an automated program called Autocrit that can help with some of your edits. You can do it for free or pay $100 a year for the most advanced program. The free program only lets you do so many words per day. If you get the $100 program you can do your whole manuscript and download quite a few diagnostic tools. One of the best ones is repeated words and phrases. You can try it with the freebie program or if you know someone who uses it, then ask if they could do your whole manuscript for a tryout.
***Autocrit was recommended by a very good editor, and he uses the program in his services as an add-on.
Note: Autocrit and critique partners should never be used in place of the editor for the final edit! They should only be used BEFORE. This will make less work for the editor and save you money in editing costs in the long run.
There are a lot of good editors out there. I have a list on this blog and I am still discovering more. World Literary Cafe has a downloadable toolkit on their site filled with editors. Quite a few of them have editorial experience with traditional publishing and became freelance (free to work for hire). They offer great editing for a reasonable price.
What If I Can’t Find an Editor or Know Where to Look?
This was me not too long ago. I didn’t know where to search. I didn’t know how to use social media like I do today. I didn’t have anyone to talk with locally on anything. I didn’t know anyone. I was basically an island. I’ve had to learn just about everything “on the job”. I don’t want others to have to endure that–it’s not fun. I did get my book edited still, though.
Most reputable self publishing companies have editing programs available. If you haven’t been able to work with a critique partner or anything else at all, you will need more than a copyedit. I will go into more detail about types of editing later. You will need at least a content edit. I did this since I didn’t have the resources I have now. I got this level of editing at a pretty good rate–about middle of the road. You will pay more for editing going through a self publishing company than you will from a freelance literary editor, but it is better than no editing at all.
If you plan on going the DIY route and not work through a self publishing company, you will really need to do your homework. Editing is not the place to skimp on your budget! You only get one shot at making a good first impression!
Dishonest self publishing companies will charge more than what is even acceptable in self publishing. Sometimes they only offer a copyedit and do not do well even with that. Author Solutions’ companies are king at gypping people on their editing. I know because I dealt with them in the past.
How Will Lack of Editing Break Me?
Well, in a nutshell, it will send your writing career down the toilet before you can get started and faster than you can say “self publishing”. It will show up in your reviews. Readers will tell you if they leave a review. They won’t be as kind to you as your editor. The damage will be done and will last forever.
Having your book edited doesn’t mean everyone is going to love it. You will still have your haters. It is better to have a critical review saying that someone didn’t like your character’s personality or something about the plot rather than telling you that your prose stinks, you have a lot of misspelled words/wrong words, or you love your commas and run-ons! Having facts checked on things doesn’t hurt either! Ask someone who knows about that stuff to check your facts if it’s something you aren’t familiar with. Your editor may not be an expert on military tactics or codes, weapons, armor, explosives, and firearms, or an ancient culture. I have seen authors look bad in this area as well and the author get called on it on a review! Google may not have all the answers, but it may have most of them.
Let me put it to you this way. A glaring error to an avid reader is like a dissonant cord or a wrong note to a musician–or if the instrument is out of tune. Everyone knows what it sounds like if someone is singing a song off-key and the response thereof. An unedited book is like an Atari game to someone who is used to playing Xbox 360 or PS3.