Hi SEers! Denise here to talk about the last step before releasing a book—editing.
Authors put a lot of time, work, and love into their words. They go over their manuscripts several times, have beta readers, and critique groups to offer suggestions. Then, there’s another read-through catching those tiny mistakes. Is it ready to release? No!
Of all the steps to complete a book, editing is one you do not want to skip. This is where a final set of eyes makes sure it’s ready to be published. Use the wrong name, need a comma, or a sentence doesn’t make sense? Editors fix that. Use the word was instead of were, or misspelled or misused a word? They catch it! If published with these mistakes, it can pull a reader out of a story.
I’ve read books that were “edited” by the author, a family member, or a bad editor. These books were a mess, and I’m unlikely to read that author again. It’s very distracting to keep stopping to figure out what they meant to say or who was talking because they mislabeled it.
Editing is a very important part of writing, and there are many people who claim to be an editor just because they write or read. It takes a certain eye for detail, education, and patience.
I’ve had some unsatisfactory experiences with people who shouldn’t be editors. My first novel was “edited” by a person who claimed to be skilled at it and offered unbelievably cheap prices. Fortunately, when a reviewer read it over before it was published, they caught the mistakes and let me know. I had to pay a new editor to go over it.
Luckily, the editor I found is the person I still use today.
My worst experience was with a company that offered editing services. First, they went over some earlier already published work. Since I trusted them, I accepted their suggestions without question. Then, I submitted my latest book. There was a promise to complete it within a month. I’m a patient person and can accept excuses and things happening in life, but when three years go by, and it’s only half edited, I finally had to give up. I took the lesson offered that included getting what I needed in writing, and what would happen if the was deadline is missed.
So again, I paid for the book to be re-edited. These were awfully expensive learning experiences, especially if you trust the wrong person(s) as I did.
How do you find a quality editor? Here are some suggestions to help you avoid those expensive and stressful experiences I dealt with in the past.
- Make sure the person you want to hire has listed their qualifications for being an editor. Most will have degrees and years of experience doing it. Also, there are reputable sites that list editors.
- Check reviews and talk to other clients if available. A recommendation from someone trusted is invaluable.
- Get a sample of their work by sending in a part of what you need to be edited. Then, see if you are comfortable working with them.
- Make sure the prices are clear and upfront, and you know what you need to be done. For example, do you need line editing, copyediting, developmental editing, or just proofreading? I go with medium copyediting, which leaves it ready for publishing.
- Have a contract that clearly states what is expected. Do you want it polished for publishing or have a deadline? Make sure that is included. Never give the full amount upfront, but there is usually a deposit required.
Allow time for this process. Some editors can be booked out for months. Then when you get your book back, make sure you go over it one more time. Now, it’s time to prepare the book to publish!
What are your experiences with editing? Do poorly edited books stop you from reading them?