I am giving away ten paperback copies of my book Saving Money on Editing & Choosing the Best Editor on Goodreads.
The self-publishing industry is booming, and if you’re a self-published author, so is the competition. Having your book professionally edited is an essential step in getting your story to stand out from the crowd. But who knew that editing services were such a pricey proposition?
Janell E. Robisch, a professional editor with over two decades of experience, will show you how to save money on professional editing by
This book was inspired by and adapted from several earlier posts on this blog and is now available in paperback and on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Scribd, and other formats.* It is not simply a compilation of the blog posts. It has been completely edited and integrated. I’ve added updated information.
It’s a handy little resource to have around during the revision phase of writing your book, and it’s a great guide to help you get your manuscript in the best shape possible before you send it to your editor.
It will also help you find the right editor for you and your book.
Saving Money on Editing Availability
I had hoped to offer it on Kindle Unlimited. However, a different version of it, called An Author’s Guide to Saving Money on Editing, is being copublished by the Editorial Freelancers Association later this year. Amazon’s KDP Select program demands exclusivity, so Kindle Unlimited won’t be possible for this book.
The good news is that this means I can publish it more widely later. I can use services such as Ingram Spark, Kobo Writing Life, and Smashwords to distribute my little book to a wider audience at a later date. *The book has now been distributed through Draft2Digital and is also available in paperback.
A paperback version of Saving Money on Editing will also be available soon. I just need to check the proof, which is on its way to me as we speak.
This Is Just the Beginning
Saving Money on Editing is the first in a series of Indie Author Guides aimed at helping indie authors improve their craft and learn the business of self-publishing. I am learning everyday, and as I learn, I want to share that knowledge with you, to make the process of writing and preparing your book for publication as smooth and achievable as possible.
I may very well use this blog in the process of creation. I’d love to hear what you want to learn about. How can I, as an editor, help you solve your writing problems? What questions do you have about writing and self-publishing?
What issues or challenges do you deal with every day that interrupt writing or make the process more difficult? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter. Let’s start a discussion on how we can help each other as authors. Also, how can editors such as myself help authors achieve their goals?
Do you need an editor? As an editor myself, I’m going to take a risk today and talk about some reasons that an indie author just might not need an editor after all.
Hiring an editor can certainly have several benefits for self-published authors:
The right developmental editor will make your story better by helping you find the weaknesses in your story, plot, theme, and characterization. She will also give you ideas for strengthening them.
The right copyeditor will polish your work. He will make sure missing commas, misused words, and misspellings won’t ruin your reader’s enjoyment of the story.
A good editor will help you improve your own writing skills through queries and conversation. She’ll tell you why she made certain changes so that you can learn not to make the same mistakes again. Developmental editing is especially good for this. While it may not be for everyone, I favor the editorial letter for developmental editing over the editorial rewrite. This letter points out the strengths and weaknesses of a manuscript. It gives the author lots of thinking points and lets her use this knowledge to revise or rewrite her book. Using—not just hearing—this new or reinforced knowledge is a great way for a writer to improve not just her current book but also her overall skill.
An experienced editor has likely seen many more books, worked with many more authors, and gained more insight into the craft of writing and the ins and outs of the publishing industry than your typical beta readers and critique partners. If your editor is also a writer, he has probably exchanged his own work with beta readers and critique partners. So, he has the practical knowledge of a writer plus his own professional experience to work from.
Why You Might Not Need an Editor
Okay, so you can tell that I think (good) editors are great [see my post on vetting editors for tips on finding a good one]. However, I honestly believe that there are times when you shouldn’t hire one. Here are some reasons to stop and think before you pay for professional editing:
1. You are writing a legacy work.
A legacy work is for friends and family. While you might have buried dreams about making money from it, its primary purpose is to leave your loved ones and descendants a little piece of you when you’re gone. They will tend to be more forgiving of grammatical errors and structural issues than your average reader.
2. You have no commercial goals.
You may be writing simply for the love of it. Maybe you’ve just had this one book inside you that just has to get out, but you never plan to write another. One of the purposes of hiring an editor is to turn out the best book possible so that your readers will keep coming back for more. Your well-edited titles will give you a strong basis for commercial success. However, if this is not what you’re looking for, the benefits of hiring an editor might not outweigh the financial cost. If your pride demands a clean manuscript, you might still need an editor, but otherwise, share away. Keep in mind that services such as Amazon KDP have quality guidelines to which you must adhere to keep your book available on their sites. This doesn’t stop you from using print on demand or sharing your book on your blog or website.
4. You know an editor who is willing to barter or edit for free.
Okay, in this case, you still need an editor, but you don’t actually have to hire one. Please do be sensitive and flexible with your editor family member or friend. She likely needs to be doing mostly paid work to survive, but if she is willing to help, great! However, if said editor is a friend or family member, be sure that she is willing to treat you like any other client (a.k.a. not hold back) and that the relationship can survive the constructive criticism you are going to get when she does.
5. You simply can’t afford it, or you don’t feel that the boost in sales will be worth the cost of editing.
6. You believe that writing as an art form is best when it is pure and unedited.
This is a valid opinion. Some writers believe that any form of editing tarnishes a writer’s voice. After all, painters don’t have editors. If this is you, don’t let your friends talk you into having your book edited anyway. Hiring an editor while you have this mindset will likely just lead to an adversarial relationship. It won’t help either one of you. If you want to test out your theory that your writing is better without feedback, use a willing beta reader or critique partner before you consider shelling out your cash and putting your writing under the knife of a pro.
Success without an Editor
Finally, if your story is appealing enough and the errors aren’t so bad that readers can’t get past them, you might still find commercial success without an editor. You may need an editor later to increase that success. When you self-publish an ebook, you have the option to revise and re-upload your book down the line. You can fix errors yourself or even hire an editor after the book has been up a while to increase its appeal even more. Having your book edited postpublication won’t erase any bad reviews that are already there, but it will show readers that you are willing to respond to their concerns.
Spend some time getting to know yourself and figuring out your goals for your writing career (if any). This can help you figure out which path to take.
So, do you think every writer needs an editor? Why or why not?
Welcome back! So far in this series on saving money on editing, I’ve covered patience, self-editing, using readers, and using editing tools. This week, I wrap up the series with some final tips and tricks for you to eke out the full value of the editing services that you need for your book.
Basically, the whole point of this series is that you can save money on editing by providing your editor with a cleaner, more developed manuscript. In this post, I include more tips to help you get that cleaner manuscript and give you some tips that fall outside this realm.
You can save money on editing by providing your editor with a cleaner, more developed manuscript.
Improve Your Own Skills
How are your own writing skills? If there is one thing that I have learned as a published author and as an editor of almost twenty years, it’s that there is always something new to learn and some way to get better at my craft. With the following steps, you can work on improving your own writing and self-editing skills so that each work you produce is better than the last:
Learn more about the writing craft. Read books, listen to podcasts, and watch videos. Learn all you can about story structure, theme, plot, characterization, and so on. I have a growing list of resources on my Resources for Fiction Writers page.
Think about consistency during the self-editing stage. One of the biggest things that editors look for is consistency. So if you realize that you keep changing the spelling of a character’s name or the capitalization of a phrase, use the handy search and replace tool in your word processor to check for these errors.
Use a style manual. Why? Readers like consistency. Inconsistencies pull them out of the story and disrupt their ability to enjoy it. Style manuals give you rules that help you to maintain consistency throughout your manuscript and to apply grammar rules when they are in question. Most fiction editors use the Chicago Manual of Style. The 16th edition is available online and in print. Not only can you use this manual to make your own style decisions, you will also have it nearby when your editor inevitably quotes a section of the manual when explaining certain editorial changes.
Practice Smart Shopping
If you are interested in saving money on editing, when you shop for an editor, there are a few more things that you can do while still getting a professional edit:
Comparison shop.* Find a directory of editors that you trust. I recommend the Editorial Freelancers Association in the United States and the Society for Editors and Proofreaders in the United Kingdom. Find a few editors that work on your type of book and request sample edits and estimates. Use this information to pick the best editor you can at the best price.
Look for deals. If your editor doesn’t list these on her website, feel free to ask.
Does your editor offer package deals? If you are self-publishing, you may need several services, such as developmental editing, copyediting, and formatting. Many editors offer packages, sometimes with other service providers, to save money and provide convenience by allowing authors to get many or all of their needs handled in one place.
Does your editor offer trimmed-down versions of services? For example, you might get a manuscript evaluation or a three-chapter critique instead of a full developmental edit. You might find that you can extrapolate the feedback the editor gives you to your entire book.
Barter. If you have marketable skills, it never hurts to ask your editor if there is something that you can offer in trade for editing. Perhaps you could trade web design skills, marketing services, or social media help for editing. If you know an editor in person, you could even offer more tangible skills. For example, I provide publishing consulting services to a local musician and author in exchange for my daughter’s piano lessons. It all works out very well.
*A Note on Cheap Editing
You’ll notice that I do not recommend that you find the cheapest editor possible. There are websites and forums where people offer up editing services at extremely low prices.
I am against this primarily because it lowers the value of editing in general, and editors need to make a living. If an editor spends 60–80 hours of their lives editing your manuscript, is it fair that they only be paid $100? That is less than a $1.50 an hour! Sure, they may agree to it, especially if they are trying to build their portfolio, but they are pricing other editors—editors with decades of experience who invest in their careers through continued training and education—right out of the market. Also, when authors hire these cheap editors, they often get shoddy work back, and stories of these experiences spread like wildfire over the Internet. Pretty soon, everyone thinks that all freelance editors are scam artists.
So, do your research.
When hiring any editor, you must vet the editor carefully through questions about their background, their experience, the books they have edited, their relevant education, and their professional certifications and memberships. Get a sample edit to make sure that your styles mesh and that their skills are on par. See if it would be possible for you to correspond with a past client or two so that you can find out what their experiences were. Again, do your research, and you are less likely to get burned.
I hope you have enjoyed this series, and I would love to hear your tips for saving money on editing. Leave me a comment for me below or on Facebook or Twitter.
Why do electronic editing tools make me cringe? Because editing tools such as our old friend the spell checker can become your enemy very quickly if they are used in the wrong way. Replace All can quickly ruin a good manuscript. There are too many exceptions in the English language to make the broad application of a “rule” a good idea.
An electronic tool can make suggestions but cannot read everything in context and cannot tell you whether a change actually works in your manuscript. Tools can definitely make life easier, but their use requires a deep understanding of our language and the rules of writing and grammar that govern it.
So, before I list some of the tools out there that you might find useful for cleaning up your manuscript, I’d like to offer a few words of caution:
Always check each suggested change carefully before accepting it.
If you don’t know why a change is being suggested, look it up. You might learn something new, or you might learn that the particular suggestion doesn’t apply to your manuscript.
Some of these tools and apps give feedback on readability. Consider carefully what level of readability is appropriate for your work before making any suggested changes.
What about the Cost?
Most of these tools cost money. However, if you use a favorite on multiple manuscripts, the per-book investment for most could turn out to be very small, depending on your writing output. Many of these tools come with a free trial, so if you’re curious, you can check them out before you hand over your money.
If you choose your apps judiciously, you can use them to produce cleaner manuscripts for your editor and hopefully reduce your editing costs a little bit. If used together, you will probably see some overlapping functions.
Keep in mind that these tools are not meant as replacements for a professional editor.
I have chosen tools suggested to me by other editors and ones that will be particularly useful for fiction and/or creative nonfiction writers. This list is not exhaustive, and there are other tools out there for academic, technical, and other specialty writers. As always, do your research.
PerfectIt Pro: I have used this Word add-on for years. It is a customizable tool that can be used to help you use words, phrases, and form (e.g., Oxford commas) consistently. It will flag instances of inconsistencies (unstoppable vs. un-stoppable) and style deviations and give you a chance to easily correct them. It is hard to cover it all in a paragraph, but I have found this tool to be well worth the investment.
Editorium Add-Ons (especially the Editor’s Toolkit and File Cleaner): According to Editorium’s website, the Editor’s Toolkit “provides powerful tools for editing in Microsoft Word, including the ability to show and stet revisions at the touch of a key. Quickly transpose words, transpose characters, change case, and so on. Editor’s ToolKit makes editing in Microsoft Word an absolute pleasure.” File Cleaner focuses more on correcting commonly used mechanical mistakes, such as too many spaces and improperly typed characters.
SmartEdit: This tool’s makers describe it as a “first-pass editing tool for creative writers and novelists that sits inside Microsoft Word and helps you as you work.… It’s an aid—a helper for when you begin editing your work. A standalone version also exists for writers who do not use Word.”
These tools are not meant as replacements for a professional editor.
Stand-Alone and Multi-Integrating Tools
ProWritingAid: Similar to SmartEdit, this tool promises to help writers improve their writing through checks that flag things such as repeated words and adverb use. It also “integrates with MS Word, Open Office, Google Docs, Scrivener and Google Chrome.”
Hemingway App: Through the creative use of highlighting, this tool seeks to help you improve the clarity and readability of your writing.
Grammarly: This app has free and paid versions and can be used not only as a Word add-on but also in your browser or as a Windows application. As its name suggests, it focuses on grammar and touts itself as far better than Word’s built-in spelling and grammar checkers.
If you have a favorite editing tool, please feel free to recommend it in the comments below. Then, join me next week for the final installment of the series.