All books need editing! An unedited book, or a poorly edited book, will create a negative impression on a target audience, unless that audience is very forgiving (e.g., family and friends).
To get the most return for the time and money you invest in writing and promoting your book, you need to have the most extensive editing that your budget will allow. Sure, you can always publish a second edition, with corrections, but it’s hard to make a good first impression the second time around.
Here’s the rub. Many authors either don’t create a budget for editing, or they don’t want to have their egos bruised. Imagine paying someone to point out your mistakes, and then having to fix all of them when you thought your book was finished!
Okay, so you understand that your book needs editing. Following are some examples of how not to have your book edited:
- Do it yourself—This is not your self-edit. This is an “official (final?) edit. Problem: You can’t see the forest for the trees. You’ll miss the same mistakes that you created in the first place.
- Your computer—Problem: A pc’s spell-check and grammar-check functions may catch only about 25 to 50 percent of the errors.
- A friend or someone you know—May be willing to do the editing for a low price, or for free. Qualifications: Maybe is or was an English teacher, or was an English major in college—Problems: 1) The person may not put in the required effort for the price paid; and 2) Because you know each other, the person may not be willing to share too much bad news about your writing.
- Someone who edits a different kind of publication than your book—Problem: Each publication type has its own standards and style guidelines, and unless that person’s editing matches your needs, it may be an editing misfit.
So, let’s assume that you’ve decided to hire a professional editor. How many edits do you need? This will strongly depend on your budget. Of course, the obvious minimum is one edit. You need to have someone read your book who is unbiased (doesn’t know you personally) and will tell it like it is. It’s even sometimes necessary to tell authors that they’re not publishable writers, no matter what their best intentions, or how bad it may hurt. Again, this is why it’s not a good idea to work with a friend.
The next best choice is to have two edits. The first edit is on your initial submission. The editor will make corrections or suggest changes—mechanical (e.g., spelling, punctuation, grammar) and content (e.g., revising, rewriting, adding or deleting material, re-organizing, restructuring, re-formatting). It’s up to you to decide what to do with the editor’s suggestions.
If you make any changes, especially any extensive changes, who’s going to check your work afterward? You may, for example, have written new un-edited material. That’s where the second edit comes in. In fact, some books even go through several more rounds of editing, including the final proofreading before printing, to check that the book looks just right.
But if you’re self-publishing, that can be unrealistic. So, again, one round of editing is a must. And, if you can afford it, two rounds are better.
Bottom line: It’s the editing that will keep your book from looking like “loving hands at home”. If you’re serious about publishing something that will reflect who you are, remember: Every author needs an editor.
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