A Complete Guide to Self-Publishing Your Book – Blog #5
Blog Series – Step #5
Editing, or as authors call it, “How the hell did I miss that?!”
Editing is not our favorite task. In fact, we’d probably be safe to say that few authors truly enjoy it.
We might even say that we’ve been putting off this blog about editing because we dislike it that much.
Think of it this way: You’ve had all this fun writing your novel, and by the time it’s done, you’re probably pretty proud of it! Tears were shed; perhaps some sweat, too. If you’re a real hardcore author, there may have even been some blood (but hopefully not – paper cuts are painful!).
Yet, no matter how much time and effort you’ve dedicated to your sci-fi series, mystery novel, or even a memoir, there are bound to be a few – in fact, probably more than a few – errors throughout.
It’s amazing to read back what you’ve written days, weeks, or even months ago, only to find extra or missing words, typos, and other errors you’ve missed. Even though you’ve probably been re-reading your work as you’ve gone along, there are always new findings that pop up upon a closer look.
It’s certainly frustrating to perform a very detailed analysis of your work, but it always proves to be worthwhile. In fact, one of the best things about editing is that you might just come up with the perfect word that you were looking for the first time around, but couldn’t find then. It might even help convey the true meaning of a sentence and wind up being one of the most poignant passages in your novel.
And yet… it’s impossible for you to catch every mistake. Plus, there are also the sections you might think sound perfectly clear when reading them back, but the average reader – who, of course, doesn’t live inside your head – could be a bit confused. And that, friends, is where editing services come in.
Depending on your budget, there are a few avenues you can take to seek out editing services. Upwork, Guru, and Freelancer have their share of professional editors, but the level of skill varies tremendously on those platforms. There are other professionals you can find with a quick Google search – but they can be costly. If you have the cash, great! If not, you may be better off choosing a middle-of-the-road option. (Unless, of course, you do think your manuscript needs heavy editing and you have big plans with it! If you’re pretty confident in your work and are satisfied with being an indie author, then you’ll likely do just fine with moderately-priced editing services.)
However, there’s a third option, and it’s the one we used. This is also the best option for: a. authors on tight budgets, and b. authors who are writing purely for the sake of enjoyment. The option is using the resources you have available to you for editing services.
We’ve been fortunate to have a crew of meticulous editors at our disposal, and therefore didn’t have to hire any professionals to edit our sci-fi series. If you have any English majors, PR people, grammar experts, or extremely detail-oriented individuals in your network of family or friends, kindly ask them if they’d lend you their expertise! By relying on these individuals, you can save a significant amount of money. In fact, all it will cost you is a bit of ink and paper, and perhaps an “I owe you” to a few friends. (A “thank you” in the acknowledgements and a gifted print copy of your book certainly never hurts!)
If you can’t think of any friends or family members who could edit your book, you can always find out if there are creative writing workshops in your area, or search for online groups offering peer-editing.
Of course, if you do decide to go with one of these options, then you must realize that each person who reads your book will have their own individual thoughts and personalities. As such, not everyone will be in agreement when it comes to things you could change – or things that work really well – in your manuscript. And that’s okay! Remember: it’s your book. You can take some of the best or most common suggestions and incorporate them, leave some, or do whatever you please. However, keep in mind that you did ask for input, so keeping an open mind here is essential. The goal of working with editors is only to enhance your novel… but it still is and always will be your novel.
As for us, we were truly lucky to have a relative who was previously employed as a copy editor, family members who simply wanted to read our story, and two other individuals we singled out intentionally as our toughest reviewers. As authors, we’re obligated to acknowledge the fact that others’ input simply results in a better novel. Thick skin is certainly required here – and you must certainly prepare yourself for some circumstances that will test your resolve! One of the individuals we knew would be hardest on us actually tore apart our opening for the second novel in our sci-fi series, Computer Love Inc: Gestation. The criticism was painful at the time, but we went back to the start and rewrote it. Through gritted teeth, we admit: the beginning is much, much better now. (Did we repeat a word there? Editing matters.)
Editing makes you a better author. You’ll learn a lot, so take it all in. Yes, you’ll still misuse words, repeat them, and even on occasion, omit them by mistake. And yes, editing will probably always be painful. But after writing 80,000 words or so, you can do anything.
Even if it sucks.