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What you need to know about editing your book?

Elvis Elvis

Considering the stigma still surrounding self publishing a novel, if you are looking to do more than hobby publish, there are several important facets of the book that can’t be ignored. Editing is one of the most important.

While a bad cover will also quickly mark you as an amateur, few things will sully you in the minds of readers more quickly than a poorly edited book. After all, there is a growing portion of readers willing to forgive an ugly cover, but the contents are all you, baby.

And editing your book is not something you can do alone. No matter how good you are, or even how well you self-edit, no human being can catch every problem in a piece of writing, especially the original author of said writing.

The editing process is a vital and important part of bringing a book to market, and too often, the self publishing author ignores this component or just lets a few family and friends read it before publication.

Unless your family and friends are professional editors who can look at your work with a totally unbiased eye, getting their opinion is not the same as going through a true editing process. Family and friends don’t want to hurt your feelings and they want to like your work.

Self publishing still has a reputation as “the last resort,” or what people who can’t write do. Even if you’re a good writer, if you publish your work to sell to others before making absolutely sure it’s been solidly edited, then you reinforce this stereotype. And not only that, you betray the trust of the readers you do get.

These readers will not be coming back for more, and they will not be telling their friends. The only word of mouth advertising you’ll get will be the bad kind and you’ll have wasted a lot of time, possibly a lot of money, and walk away with a bruised ego.

What you need to know about editing your book?

There is no race here. Publishing is incredibly competitive and it likely won’t get any more or less competitive in the time it takes for you to produce your very best work. So then, let’s talk about editing and how to get this feat accomplished.

Types of editing

When you say the word “editing,” most people believe that you’re talking about copyediting: grammar, spelling, and punctuation. While this is one type of editing, it’s certainly not the only kind that’s important.

Generally when a reader complains about a poorly edited book, they’re talking about typos and grammatical errors, but some readers are talking about story flow and continuity, organization, or fact-checking. It’s important that all of these types of editing are considered in the process, and not just the obvious typographical errors.

While it won’t be your only step or your last step, your first step should be self-editing. Why? Because a writer who is good at editing their own work, even if they can’t catch everything, improves the chances that the finished product will be as clean as possible. Since editing is an organic process, some things need to be fixed before others. And many beta and critique readers’ eyes start to glaze over if they’re overwhelmed with too many problems at once.

Seeking outside help too early before you’ve done enough self-editing, makes it more likely that the people helping you will catch problems you could have caught yourself, while missing those that you needed their help for in the first place.

Once you’ve self-edited and gotten your manuscript as clean as possible, you’ll need to move on to outside help. Not everyone can afford to hire an editor, but if you can, it can be a good investment. However it should be the last step, after getting help from others who won’t charge you money.

If you find an editor that charges by the hour rather than by the page, and you’ve done most of the work up front, and gotten help from others, you’ll lower your editing bill considerably, while still ending up with a quality manuscript to take to press.

Even if you don’t end up hiring a professional editor, you’ll need to employ the help of peer editors and beta readers to help you clean up your writing.

I also recommend using editing software. While editing software can’t catch everything a human eye can catch, it’s also true that the human eye can’t always catch everything that software can catch. So I employ both the help of human eyeballs (mine and others), as well as computer software to be sure I catch as many problems as possible.

I personally use and recommend a software called: Editor by: Serenity Software.

No piece of writing, fiction or non-fiction, will be totally free of error. This becomes more true, the longer the work in question is. But with a solid approach to editing, you can significantly reduce the number of errors that make it into the final work, as well as raise your credibility in the eyes of readers to help ensure they come back for more and tell their friends.