One of the most important things in the self-publishing and indie author world is editing. I don’t care who you are (I do actually. I didn’t mean it), if it isn’t a blog post and you’re selling it, pay an editor to edit it first. Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s more than worth it for you and your readers. While e publishing and self-publishing are changing the written world, we still want to fill it with competitive quality. We need to show readers that indie books are worth the price they’re paying for it, because no matter how good you are at writing, you’re always going to need another pair of eyes for editing.
Most indie authors are like me, they didn’t do much past high school English and required University courses, meaning their grammar and mechanics aren’t the best (refer to this article). You might be able to tell one hell of a story, but if your readers keep getting stopped, at too many commas, or notice more than two typos on a page, it’s going to effect their experience, (see what I did there? :D).
I’m a Game of Thrones fan and I purchased the graphic novel when it first came out. I love the GOT universe and while I was waiting for Martin’s next book (Please Goddess, don’t let him die) I wanted to immerse myself in the story in a different way. I cannot express how disappointed I was when I found typos and spelling errors in the word bubbles. THE WORD BUBBLES. I’ve held on to it with the full intention of selling it someday when people are looking for the rare
fuck up edition of the GOT graphic novel.
With my first publication of Detective Docherty and the Demon’s Tears I paid an editor that I found on Kijiji. I ended up paying over a thousand dollars to someone who did edit my manuscript, but missed a bunch of
shit things in the initial printing. I was pretty downtrodden when readers approached me at conventions and e mailed me to give me a list of errors they found throughout the book. When they contacted me I was hoping to hear how much they enjoyed the story or their thoughts on it, but I instead received critiques on my writing.
It was time for a reprint. Even before I decided to send my manuscript to another editor I had wanted to give Detective Docherty a full face-lift and create a new cover. I had noticed through promotion at conventions and bookstores that children were mostly drawn to the original cover art and I wanted to expand my audience. In truth, while children can enjoy my books, they are intended for adults and young adults. Despite my initial errors however, I was determined to polish up my art piece and put it back on the shelves. It’s never too late to make corrections to a manuscript or update a cover. There will always be new readers.
While I was working on the new cover art, I sent my manuscript to my friend and now editor, Amanda Papenfus . Having graduated university with a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Art, she chopped my story up, and thank the Goddess, that’s exactly what it needed. Amanda worked with my writing style and characters. She didn’t try to change it to what she would have written. I feel that’s important because that’s the whole reason most people start self-publishing in the first place. Not only did she allow me to feel like the story was still mine, but she cleaned it up.
Unfortunately there are always going to be one or two more typos. No matter how good your editor is, if you’re formatting or making a slight change here or there, something’s going to go amiss. Needless to say, we’re all human. Enter Beta Readers. Before placing an order for two hundred books and putting together the guest list for your debut party, order a small number of books (3-5 ) and then give them to beta readers. If you prefer not to spend money on hard copies, send your manuscript via e mail as a PDF. If you’re too paranoid for that, gift e book copies to your beta readers.
“I’m sorry, if I’ve paid an editor, why do I need beta readers again?”
Because I’ve reprinted my manuscript three times too many and have learned the lesson for the both of us. I was too impatient to send my manuscript to beta readers. Save yourself time and ego-bashing and have beta readers catch those last typos before you give your book to new readers and potentially ruin their experience. Let them get lost in the story, not spelling errors.
Before I let you go, a few notes on editors and beta readers:
– I found my first editor on Kijiji. She did the job for the most part, but she missed a lot and wanted to rewrite my story.
When I first began writing I read a lot of articles in Writer’s Digest and online that reinforced the importance of listening to your editor, so when my editor made suggestions I tried to listen to most of them, but there were areas I would not bend and I am glad I didn’t. My first editor wanted to write out Ares, one of my main characters, and I refused. Thankfully at that, because he continues to be a favorite amongst my readers. Her other advice was solid though and I am glad I followed it.
My point? Main stream articles are written by main stream publishers and editors. You most likely became an indie author because you wanted to write your story your way, good, but that doesn’t mean you might not need help with your sentence structure or developing your characters further. It’s a give and take, take some advice and don’t give a sh*t about the rest.
– Instead of doing a blind search on the internet for an editor like I did, network on the Indie Writer’s Network, Twitter, and Tumblr etc to find an editor that someone else has used and recommends. I got very lucky finding my friend Amanda, but she’s mine, so go to those other websites. Just kidding, she is taking on new clients.
– Too many beta readers are a bad thing. My first time around I wanted as many people as possible and as many point of views. It was a nightmare. I picked people I knew would love it and people I knew would hate it. Stick with your audience and only a handful at that.
I literally had people telling me it had too much detail, not enough detail, it’s too short, it’s too long. What good are those contradictions? It’s not constructive and leaves you feeling like you can’t make anyone happy. Instead, realize you can’t make everyone happy and stick to your audience.
– Figure out your audience (which really should have been done while writing it and if your editor didn’t catch that, get a new one). Is your story for grown men over fifty or teenage girls who want to fall in love? Once you have your audience, pick a few people you know will get back to you and can spot grammatical errors and typos.
It all takes time. A painful amount of time. Any author who’s been through this process knows why it takes people like George R.R. Martin two years to finish a book and why J.K. Rowling was rejected by so many publishers, but they got through it and they wrote some damn good books. You will too.
Good luck with your publication.