(This post is primarily for self-publishers. Editing for unpublished authors will be discussed in the next post.)
Two undeniable facts in writing and publishing:
- Every book needs a professional edit.
- No one can edit their own writing.
Even the cleanest writer needs someone who is new to the material to give the book a final read-through before going to press. A professional edit can make the difference between a book that’s difficult to sell and a hot-off-the-presses blockbuster.
As a distributor of self-published books, unedited works break my heart. I absolutely hate it when someone submits a self-published book that hasn’t been professionally edited. Most of the time, it’s a classic case of being “penny-wise, but pound-foolish.” Self-publishing is expensive and too many authors try to save a little by not paying for a professional edit.
I’ve had to reject many books for distribution due to poor editing–books that I would have happily accepted if they’d been edited properly. What is really unfortunate is that by the time I get involved, the author often has 5,000 copies (or more) sitting in their garage. They can’t afford to reprint until they sell the old ones, but the old ones aren’t selling–or they can’t find a distributor–because they weren’t edited well.
Every manuscript requires a professional edit. A professional editor is someone who has edited for pay and who has happy, repeat customers–not a friend or relative who majored in, or even teaches, English. (It’s a different skill set.) A good editor is familiar with current publishing and grammar trends (yes , grammar rules change over time). A professional editor is more than a proofreader. A proofreader finds grammar mistakes, misspellings, and typographical errors. A professional editor helps polish your writing, finds plot holes, catches inconsistencies, finds flat characters, and does so much more. A good editor is worth every penny of their fee.
Editing is a necessary process in creating a great end product. Like having a baby, it can be painful, but it must be done. If your baby needed surgery, you’d want an experienced surgeon. When it comes to editing your manuscript, you should want no less.
Please, don’t anyone send this back to me with all my mistakes circled. Remember, no one (not even me) can edit their own work.