To Edit or Not: At What Cost?


I have the pleasure of collaborating with a community of talented professionals serving independent authors. From editors to cover artists, legal advisors, and even indexers, they are committed to helping independent authors publish professional-quality books. For the most part, the clients I serve are focused on professional publication. There are exceptions. Some authors publish a personal project or have a unique end goal in mind. For those seeking professionalism, there are many roles to fill, and they each require resources: money, time, or knowledge.
I participate in several forums for self-publishing authors, and a common topic is editing. Like most steps in the self-publishing process, hiring and working with editors can be confusing, and the information available... conflicting.
I am not an editor, but I have worked with over 150 authors and dozens of editors throughout my career in Indie publishing. I’d like to share some of my observations and the best practices I have learned from some very well-respected colleagues.
Bad reviews can kill a book’s sales, not to mention how it might feel to the author. There are many reasons why you might receive a bad review. Receiving them for things that are within your control is the most frustrating. Editing is within your control.
For me, when I read reviews, there are things I take seriously and things I dismiss. “I didn’t like the mushy stuff, I don’t read romance”, might be a valid review, but if the book is Romance and that’s what I’m looking for, I’ll probably ignore it.
On the other hand, “I really wanted to love this one, but I couldn’t follow which fella the main character was pursuing” carries more weight. It sounds like the storyline isn’t well-developed. And, “There were typos everywhere” is a big red flag.
Traditional publishers have teams of editors who will review a book several times over before publication, but even with an entire team, you’re likely to find an error or two in the published book. How, as an independent author, do you achieve the same level of editing without the same resources?
There are several types of editing, not including alpha and beta readers, indexers, sensitivity readers, and fact-checkers, to name a few. The first thing to notate about editors, not all editors offer all types of editing services. The three primary types of editing that professional editors offer are: Developmental Editing, Line Editing, and Proofreading. Each of these considers your writing in a different light, and one doesn’t replace another, though you may find some ambiguity in how different editors define their services.

Read the entire article in the Dec/Jan 2022-23 issue of InD'Tale magazine.

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