It took me a while and some boneheaded publishing errors to realize that authors need editors like the shore needs the sea. Bottom line: it’s impossible to spot every mistake in your manuscript by yourself. And sure, you can get your roommate or mom or brother to go over your work, but unless they’re trained and have a ton of experience in the editing biz, chances are they won’t find all of the errors either. (although it’s a great idea to have any of the above check out the manuscript BEFORE it goes to your editor)
But most editors do much more than just find errors in your work. Some will beta read your raw manuscript and point out plot holes, flat dialogue and unconvincing characters before the real edit even begins. Good editors are also painstakingly detailed, going over your manuscript line by line. That’s right, not by paragraph or by page, but by line. That means they will take a look at every single sentence and make sure that sentence works before moving on to the next one.
So why are many writers so reluctant to make use of such a necessary service. The price, of course. Contrary to what some might think, the average writers isn’t exactly swimming in a vault of money Scrooge McDuck style.
It’s an investment to hire a good editor, and they definitely don’t offer their services for free. And why should they? As noted, it’s a great deal of work to focus one’s mind on page after page of letters, words, paragraphs, and chapters. Just the thought of editing a novel I didn’t write makes me wince. It’s a pain, and there is a price to cover that headache.
But it’s an investment that pays dividends back to the author. A good editor can knock a writer from amateur to pro with their fine tuning and surgical nip/tuck of your manuscript. It’s embarrassing to publish a novel only to have readers point out your errors in their reviews. You can actually destroy your potential readership by putting out an unprofessional manuscript, thinking that readers will give you a pass because you’re an ‘indie’ author.
Guess what? Indie doesn’t mean amateur. It doesn’t mean unprofessional. The goal of any independent writer should be to produce a product that is just as good or better than anything traditionally published. Any other goal is a waste of your and the reader’s time.
How do you find a good editor? It’s so easy a caveman can do it. Google is a good start. There are a lot of folks out there offering services to indie and pro writers. Services and prices vary, so be sure of what you need from an editor. But beware: don’t forget to do a little research. If you have any writing peers (as most writers do), getting a referral is highly recommended, since they might have worked with an editor or two that they can refer to you. If not, do the necessary checks to make sure you’re working with someone who’s professional and experienced. Check the books they’ve worked on, testimonials, etc.
The bottom line is, a writer has no excuse for not being able to find a good editor. And I know, you’re thinking that you don’t have the money lying around to hire a pro. But look at it as something to budget for. As you work on your novel, you can put away twenty bucks here and there, right? By the end of your writing journey you’ll probably have most of the money tucked away if you have a little discipline and look at editing the way that it’s supposed to -as a necessity, not an option.
I survived my first publishing efforts without an editor, but that was mainly due to kindly readers who pointed out the errors to me privately. Needless to say, I had to upload a new version of those works more times than I want to admit. That is severely embarrassing to anyone who considers themselves a professional. I won’t be doing that again. Once I had the pleasure to finally work with an editor, going back to doing without was a no-go.
If you’ve gone through the blood, sweat and tears of actually completing a novel from start to finish, that’s an accomplishment. So go ahead and take that last step and make it a professional manuscript. Your readers will appreciate it, and you will too in the long run.
*Disclaimer: any errors in this post are not to be held against me. This blog isn’t professionally edited 😉 *
So, any editors out there? Feel free to shout out your services in the comment section. As always, my name is Bard Constantine, and if you’re reading this you already know that Bard Writes Books.