Any good writer will tell you this little trick. Edit, edit, and edit some more.
But what's the big deal? You've read it, your friends have read it and Microsoft Word has spell checked it, right? So why do you need to hire and pay an expensive professional editor to check it again for you?
Because you do! Because you miss things! Because typos are the devils work! And because every book has mistakes, but the ones full of them get mocked and ridiculed and won't sell. And not only will they not sell, but when the reviews come in saying that your beautiful book is riddled with grammar and punctuation mistakes, well, you can kiss your career goodbye.
Put it this way, would you fix your own boiler? Or would you fix your own car? (The smart-ass that said yes because that's your job, hush please!)
My point is, that this is an editors job. They fix your work. they give it a good old spit and shine and make YOUR words sound better, more eloquent, more flowing, more smooth. They make your books shine. They make YOU look better. So why wouldn't you hire an editor?
You may wonder to yourself, when do you hire your editor? Let me hand it over to MY editor, and she can tell you a little about it.
Amy Jackson: Copy editing happens at the tail end of the process. You've gone over your manuscript yourself and sent it through beta readers (if you're using them) and you think that you're ready for publishing - this is when you send your book to be edited.
Claire: What's your process? How do you do your actual editing?
Amy Jackson: When I get the document, I print it out and go through it on actual paper so I can easily make notes, mark errors etc. Then I go back to the computer and electronically mark up the word file I received from you.
Claire: What if we don't agree with you, or want to change things?
Amy Jackson: Nothing I do is irreversible; you as the author obviously have the final say. I use 'track-changes' and 'comments' so that you can see exactly what has been done to your book.
There's much more information on her website regarding what other types of editing she does. For instance, for me she Americanizes my Odium series for me since I'm British. It's been a fun and unique process for both of us. I've learnt a lot more American words and she's learnt some interesting new British terms. She also does Silent Editing for me. Basically I don't want to see every single comma change that she does. I trust her to sort out that mess for me, and DO NOT need to see how badly I suck at it!
Go take a look at her website and get in touch with Amy. She's amazing at what she does and really easy to get along with, but best of all, my story stays my story. She never changes the voice of it, just helps to make it read clearer.
Amy Jackson (Website)
Amy Jackson (Facebook)
It's what I've tried to say all the way along, play to your strengths and don't be afraid or embarrassed to get help if you need it. All the best writers do. No one can do it all on their own, and you don't have to either.
I've also included an interview that the lovely Stephanie Lunsford did with another great editor Monique Happy Editorial Services, so that you know that I'm not just biased for my own amazing editor!
Stephanie Lunsford, Promotional Representative of Monique Happy Editorial Services, interviews Monique Happy.
Stephanie Lunsford: What does a good editor do?
Monique Happy: I start out by chatting with the author and learning about his/her book. I also read reviews on Amazon, if the book has already been self-published. I learn a lot from the poor reviews, as they point me in the right direction. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of Internet trolls out there that leave bad reviews just to be, well, trollish – however, there are some people that leave genuine, well thought-out reviews that the author can benefit from.
Then I go on to the actual editing process. I read the book for both content and context. I use Track Changes in Word, so the author can see exactly what I’ve changed/deleted/suggested. I check and correct grammar and spelling, punctuation such as hyphens, capitalization, apostrophes, etc., and ensure tenses are used consistently. I bring to the author’s attention any inconsistencies, discrepancies, or redundancies, and any unclear statements. I also offer suggestions so that their writing flows more smoothly. I’ll insert comments to bring issues to their attention, and suggest deletions and additions that I think might be beneficial to the story. (If they are not familiar with Track Changes in Word, I have several helpful tutorials I share with them.)
I’ll conduct basic fact checking; for example, product names will be vetted for correct spelling and capitalization; I’ll also bring to the author’s attention any discrepancies in facts that may need further research on their part.
I also maintain a detailed style sheet that lists each character, their descriptions, words used frequently in the book that are not commonly used, i.e. having to do with weaponry, vehicles, etc., and anything else that is necessary to maintain consistency in the book and in the series. If the author already has such a document prepared, then I will follow it and add to it as necessary and appropriate.
I carefully back up everything I do, both on my hard drive and my external hard drive.
Once I’m done editing, it's then up to the author to approve what changes they agree with. Then I do a final clean up.
SL: Why does an author need a book editor?
MH: It’s been said before, but bears repeating. Even the best writer can overlook their own errors. What is in your head may not come out clearly to the reader. I’ve heard some helpful tips, such as reading your work aloud, reading it backwards (which would give ME a headache), and of course, having those awesome beta readers on hand. Many authors then go on to self-publish their books without having them professionally edited, and subsequently receive poor reviews. Their readers point out errors in SPAG (spelling, punctuation and grammar), and even faults in the story-line. And some of them aren’t very nice about it.
I have edited and assisted in a book’s re-release after such a fiasco. I’m not being immodest here - I would say 95% of the time their reviews climb into the 5-star stratosphere after a good editing. And that’s not just MY editing. Any good editor worth their salt is going to turn your book around and make it the stellar product it deserves to be.
SL: What can they expect from a book edit?
MH: They can expect their book to be as close to perfect as possible. There are always errors that sneak through, especially when the book is going back and forth from editor to author. But that’s the nice thing about self-publishing an eBook. Your dedicated readers and fans will contact you and say hey, there’s an error on such-and-such a page. About a week after publishing, the author can fix those up quickly and republish the book. I always advise waiting that week or two before having the book formatted for print on demand publishing.
SL: Are book editors usually qualified across the board or do they specialize in specific areas?
MH: There are some that specialize in certain genres. I’m known by some as the Zombie Editor, because that’s the genre in which I got my start, and a majority of my clients write ZA fiction. But I have many authors who write in many different genres, and I find myself easily able to edit them all. As a reader, I don’t limit myself to one genre. Why should I have to in my editing job? I know what I like, as a reader. I know what others like to read. I can take any book, be it mystery, crime, fantasy, science fiction, romance, or horror, and edit it within an inch of its life and give it that special shine that’s needed before it’s sent out to the masses.
SL: How can I check to see if my book has been edited and proofread to perfection?
MH: As I said, I use Track Changes in Word so that my authors can see exactly what I’ve done. It’s always up to them to accept or reject any changes. I also recommend one or two read-through's after the final editing is complete.
SL: What else do you do for your authors?
MH: Well, I am active on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, and Pinterest, which I use to network with authors, editors, reviewers, and indie publishers, all dedicated to the genres of fantasy, mystery, romance, thrillers, horror, sci fi and the supernatural. I spread the word about my authors and their published books, as well as their upcoming releases. I set up interviews and podcasts with various bloggers and reviewers to increase interest in their work.
I create and maintain a separate author page for each of my clients on my website; said page showcases their published works, and is linked to enable purchase from Amazon and wherever else their books are sold.
I can also assist in composing and/or editing of their biographies, book blurbs and descriptions, proofreading/editing of blog posts and/or written interviews, etc., and Facebook Book Release Parties.
You can find Monique on:
MHES on Facebook
Monique Happy Editorial Services
As always I hope that was useful for you, anything else that you want to know, please get in touch with either me, Amy or Monique...
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