Editing – a luxury?

February 7, 2016 at 7:04 pm

editingThis week is my final blog on the meme ‘What every reader needs to know’. This week I’m looking at the meme’s final point:

  • Not every self-pubbed author has an editor. Most of us aren’t rich and can’t afford $500 to edit a book, so be kind.

This is the only point the meme raises that I disagree with. I think it is essential to make sure you find a decent editor before you publish, and I’m not just saying this because I’m a professional editor.

I have read so many books that are, in all honesty, difficult to read simply because the book hasn’t received a professional edit, or even a professional proofread. I know there are people out there who don’t think it matters if books have spelling mistakes, but while a few here or there are understandable, some on every page is distracting. It certainly doesn’t help the reader stay engaged in the story.

There are also the other problems that can creep in when you don’t have an editor. Plot problems. Problems with inconsistent characterisations. Too much description. Insufficient explanation. The list is endless.

I know editing can cost a lot (I’d like to point out here that I only charge one cent per word and cover all the things I’ve mentioned). But no matter the cost, every writer needs an editor. Doing it yourself will help, especially if you’re good at English, but you’ll never spot all the problems. You’re too close to the story for that. You need someone with objectivity.

I know it’s difficult to afford a lot of these things. But in my mind, if you can afford a typesetter to lay out your book, someone to design the cover, and especially if you’re getting paperback copies and paying from them to be printed, you need to put aside money for editing as well. Because if you skip the editing phase and go straight to design and publication, you will be throwing away every cent you spend because it’s likely your book will not be anywhere near as good as it could be. It will result in fewer sales for you, probably more bad reviews than you would have otherwise received, and could give you a bad reputation as an author. This will not help you if you want to continue in this industry.

Why hamstring yourself from the start? Give yourself the best chance at success. Find a professional editor before you do anything else.

Are you a reader? Have you ever read a book that needed a good edit to such an extent that you couldn’t read it? Are you an author? In what ways have you benefitted from a professional edit? Let me know in the comments.

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