Michelle Isenhoff

Indie Endeavors, part 3 – A Word About Editing

So you’re thinking of self-publishing?  Jump into my how-to series…

In my first post, I shared the path that led to my own decision to self-publish.  In my second, I briefly compared traditional and self publishing.  Now it’s time to get to the nitty-gritty.  How do you get your story out there for the rest of the world to read?
Okay, you have a polished manuscript that’s seen suggestions and revisions.  You’re ready to publish, right?  Don’t even think about it until your manuscript has been thoroughly edited.  I know, I know, even professionally prepared books sometimes contain errors.  But indie books have gathered a notoriously bad reputation in this department, and for good reason.  Many of the ones I’ve read have been so poorly edited that I hesitate to purchase them without previewing first.  And this coming from a self-published author!
It’s a good idea to hire a professional editor.  They’re simple enough to find through a Google search, but with fees charged per word, it can get costly in a hurry.  (Self-published author and blogger Lindsay Buroker recently posted a nice summary of three degrees of professional editing and their price tags.)  So I chose a non-professional option:
After the completion of my manuscript, I set it aside for a few weeks to let some of the details sift from my memory.  Then I read it again, twice, purely to search for errors.  After that, I sent it off to three fellow writers.  None of us proofread for a living, but we all have spell check and an excellent grasp of grammar.  I couldn’t believe how many errors I missed!  After making corrections, I went ahead and published my books…only to find they still weren’t ready!  My first few reviewers picked up on another ten or twelve typos and homophones (ie. sees/seas) in each book.
You’ll recall that my first several titles were published about the same time, so this process overlapped in a three-book mess.  One of my early titles, because it is the second in a series, didn’t receive quite the same amount of proofreading given to the others.  (Everyone wanted to read the first one.)  To my utter embarrassment, when I reread it several months after publication, I found dozens of errors.  I was horrified!  It has since received the attention that should have been lavished on it immediately.  Fortunately, digital publishing makes the correction of errors a fairly simple matter.  It cannot, however, erase the impression readers received when they purchased my unprofessional book.
So what have I learned?  Editing requires time and meticulous care.  And more eyes is definitely better.  A dozen typos isn’t horrible in a 50,000-word novel, but that’s still way more than I want.  (Dozens is unacceptable.)  For my next novel, I will repeat all the steps I mentioned above.  Then I’ll label my book as an ARC (advanced readers copy) and send it out to a much wider group of proofreaders, including some of the reviewers I’ve been fortunate to meet this past year.  Only after these come back and additional corrections are made will I launch my book.
I made a mess of my first attempts, and I do NOT want to repeat those mistakes.  Readers deserve a quality product immedietly (not to mention your reputation).  Take the time to give it to them.
**I’ll be without my laptop for a few days, so bear with me when I don’t reply to comments immediately.  🙂
Go to Part 4: Cover Images

Indie Endeavors, part 3 – A Word About Editing

6 thoughts on “Indie Endeavors, part 3 – A Word About Editing

  1. Thanks for mentioning my post, Michelle! Yeah, it’s definitely tough to find all of the typos. Even paying for an experienced (and usually pricy) editor isn’t a guarantee. Some always slip through! I have to admit I like it when I see them in traditionally published books now. Makes me feel better since they slip through for those guys too. 😉

  2. Thanks for the great advice Mrs. Isenhoff! 🙂 I didn’t know that you (as in anyone) had to edit that much (well, I [am] edited/ing my story a lot). Also, it is good if other people check a book you are writing for mistakes. 😉 (THANKS!)

    1. Yup, every writer needs a lot of editing. It’s great to have several friends willing to proofread. In return, your readers get a free (and hopefully enjoyable!) read. A good exchange!

    Edit! Then edit again! (and I don’t use exclamation points lightly). Grammar and punctuation rules can be broken, but they must be known first (and it’s obvious when a writer is breaking a rule versus just not knowing it… or just plain missing something, as we are still human).
    I would also recommend beta readers for content. Someone you don’t know. Again, it gets into cost, but a professional editor is worth their weight in gold. They don’t have any obligation to be nice to you.
    Paul D. Dail
    http://www.pauldail.com- A horror writer’s not necessarily horrific blog

    1. A hard lesson learned for me. I was amazed how many silly little things I overlooked, and how very many people it took to spot them all (I hope). I’ve met so, so, so many wonderful bloggers and readers this year; I’ve got a whole list I’ll ask to beta next time. In my case, I’ve had very few who didn’t include the bad with the good, if not outright in the review, then at least in a private note. That’s valuable!

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