Thursday, March 1, 2018

Editing a Self-Published Book

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If you are thinking of self-publishing your book, you will need to get your manuscript edited before you put it on the market.

Every writer needs a second pair of eyes (and frequently a third), because there are always mistakes. These can range from simple grammar and spelling errors, to internal logic (your character is drinking coffee, and two lines later is sipping tea), to structural problems.

Editing can catch all these errors. But unless you know an editor who is willing to work for free, you will have to pay for this essential service.

(If the thought of shelling out money for an editor makes you squirm, consider the fact that Amazon is now allowing readers to report errors in self-published books, and is penalizing authors accordingly.)

Tip: You will shorten the editing process if you edit your book carefully before you send it to a professional. Here are some editing tips that will help you save time and money: How to Edit Your Own Manuscript

What kind of editor do you need?

There are basically three types of editors:

Developmental editors look at your manuscript as a whole. They are concerned with plot, pacing, character development, voice, motivation and other large components of your book. If you feel as if your manuscript is still rough around the edges, then you will need a developmental editor.

Copy editors make sure a manuscript is free of errors in the text. They check for grammar, spelling, and internal logic errors, word choice, repetitions, consistency, clarification, ambiguity in sentence structure, dialogue, and other aspects of your manuscript that require a narrow focus. (Note: Some editors make a distinction between copy editing for simple errors and line editing for sense, logic, and style.) If your book is finished, has been soundly critiqued, and you are fully confident that your concept, plot, and character development are tight, then you will need a copy or line edit.

Proof readers do a final check for errors in spelling, punctuation, formatting, typos and other small errors. This is the last step before printing or epublishing. Do not skip this step! There are always typos.

Here is a helpful article that explains the different types of editing in greater depth4 Levels of Editing Explained: Which Service Does Your Book Need?

A word to the wise

Before you consider hiring an editor, read his or her site carefully. If sample edits are available, read those as well. I have noticed errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling (!) on some editing sites. If you spot an error, or even a typo, run away, run away!

Make sure your editor is experienced. What other books has he edited? (Read the testimonials, then look up the authors and their books on Amazon. Use "Look Inside" to read the first few pages. Do you notice any errors?) What credentials does she have? Does the editor have experience in your genre? (This is very important!) Does the editor offer a clear contract? And finally, do you like her (or him)? You are going to be doing some painstaking, often difficult, work together, so it's best if you get along.

How much does editing cost?

The cost of editing depends on the length of your book, the editor, and the type of edit. This cost can vary quite a bit from editor to editor. To get an initial idea of how much a professional edit should cost, as well as how to find an editor,  the Editorial Freelance Association is the best place to start.

The Association's member directory includes bios of the members. You can look up a member by name, or you can search by skills (such as proofreading, line editing, etc.), nonfiction specialty or fiction genre, and by language. Click on the names in search results to read details about the editor, including years of experience and background.

You can post a job for free on this site. Interested freelancers will then contact you with their credentials and pay rate. There is a handy table of editing rates on the site that should give you a good idea of what editors normally charge. (One of the questions on the job listing form concerns how much you can pay, so consult this table before you post your job.)

More resources for finding an editor

Here are more resources for finding editors. (These are not personal recommendations, as I have not used any of these services):

Professional Editors To Help With Your Book - Joanna Penn's list is extensive. She includes prices, interviews (when available), types of services offered, and editors she has personally worked with.

The Northwest Independent Editors Guild connects clients with professional editors of the written word in the Pacific Northwest. You search for an editor on this site, or post a job. Their "For Clients" section has good information on how to choose an editor, different types of editing, how to work with an editor, sample contract, and more. Even if you do not live in the Northwest, this site is worth checking out.

New York Book Editors actually match you to an editor. First you tell them about your book, and then they find an editor for you. You get a chance to evaluate your working relationship through a trial edit. (This is important!) The editors in this outfit are former editors who have worked for major publishing houses, so they know what they're doing. (My editor at St. Martin's is one of them.)

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