Self-Publishing Steps - Part 2
A couple weeks ago, I did my first in a series of blog posts on the topic of the steps to self-publishing a book. This is the second post in that series, so go read part one first if you haven’t yet. In part one I talked about the writing itself. Today, in part two, I’m going to talk about the next step in the process: hiring an editor. Again, everyone’s process is different, so yours might look a bit different than mine. I’m just here sharing the steps I took personally in the publication of my books, in the rough order in which I took them.
So step two in the self-publishing process is hiring an editor. You’ve already written draft one of the book. You’ve done your revisions, you’ve gotten feedback, and you’ve attempted to polish the book on your own as much as you can. That last step is very important because if you don’t do any initial editing yourself, your editor won’t be able to catch as many mistakes, simply because there are more of them. If you go through your own grammar and things beforehand, your editor will then be able to focus on the mistakes you didn’t catch.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. If I have to edit it myself anyway, then why bother with a professional editor? The truth is that while you can do your own edits and you can do away with a professional editor, no one recommends it. The truth is, there will be mistakes you either don’t see or you don’t realize are mistakes, but believe me when I say your readers will notice and some of them may be very vocal about it.
It’s all well and good to save money by not editing your book, but this will hurt your book and your brand. Your synopsis and cover may draw readers in, but if your prose is full of grammar and spelling mistakes, clarity issues, run on sentences, inconsistencies, and repetitive structure, many will be very unlikely to pick up your next book out of fear it will be the same. They will probably leave a bad review as well, which will turn other potential readers away from your book too, no matter how enticing it seems.
So the bottom line is that if you want to thrive as an author, you need to hire a professional editor. It’s amazing the things they will catch, even simply because they are not as close to the manuscript as you are. There comes a certain point in the process where a writer is no longer reading through the book but is instead remembering what it’s supposed to say. I can recite the first paragraph of Silent Night word for word, which means I might not notice a typo. Professional editors do cost money, but trust me when I say it is so worth it.
Alright. We’ve gone over why you need an editor, so now let’s cover what types of editors there are. To my knowledge, there are four main types of editing when it comes to novels and they’re all meant for different stages: developmental editing, line edits, copyedits, and proofreading. If you did all 4 of them, that would be the order you would do them in. Now, some people interchange these terms, so make sure you and your editor are clear on what you each mean by them.
Developmental edits are meant for the early stages of the writing process as this focuses more on plot, character development, and themes. I basically use my beta readers and critique partners as a stand in for a developmental editor because they basically serve the same role. However, if you feel a developmental editor is what you really need, go for it!
Line edits are sometimes confused with copyedits, but a line edit focuses on clarity, style, and language. It looks more at the general flow of your writing. Do you have run-on sentences? Is your writing repetitive in structure? Do you repeat yourself? Can it be clearer? How is the pacing of your paragraphs? These are the kind of things that a line editor will look into and it must come before the copy edit.
Now the copy edit is the most base editing you should get done. This is more what most people think of when it comes to editing: grammar, punctuation, spelling, word choice. Copyeditors will also look for inconsistencies in the book as a whole, as this will be the last time for anyone to point these out. You don’t want to be making big changes after the copy edit, because that will require another copyedit.
The final option is proofreading, which is also sometimes confused with copyediting. The main difference is that a proof-reader reads the book after it’s been formatted and is essentially ready to go to press. A proof-reader catches any last minute mistakes in grammar and punctuation as well as paragraph and page breaks and spacing. They read the book as a book and point out anything that doesn’t seem to belong. If a person is truly a proof-reader, they cannot be a substitute for the copy edit.
It will be up to you to decide which kind of editor you want to hire. Some people hire all types for each book, some just do a copyedit, and it’s quite common for people to enlist friends and family for the proofread(provided they’ve already had a professional copyeditor). Personally, my editor for Silent Night did a blend of both Line Edits and Copy Edits, and I did the proofread myself.
Last, but not least, let’s touch on how to find an editor. There are all sorts of editors online, so it can be hard to narrow it down. The best piece of advice I’ve heard is to make sure they’re verified. I went write to the Editor’s Association Canada website to find my editor so I knew they were legitimate. Never sign a contract with an editor without first asking for a sample edit, and as far as I know, you shouldn’t have to pay for that sample edit either. Browse around to get a good idea of the average pricing too so you can tell if you’re getting charged way too much or if you might not get the quality of work you’re looking for. Here is a short list of editors I’ve encountered in the past and their Instagram usernames:
· Ellery (@elleryedits: she hosts weekly writing sprints too)
· Jordyn (@thejmivie: will be editing my fantasy novel)
· Nicki (@richardscorrections: editor of the Guild Trilogy)
· Elzevera (@willowediting: gave me a sample edit on Project Madness)
So, to wrap up part 2 in the self-publishing process, editors are important and you should do your research carefully to choose yours. I hope you enjoyed this post and that it’s not too long. I wanted to make sure I covered everything. If you have any questions, please let me know and I’ll try to answer them as best I can. You can also check out the interview I did with my own editor a couple months ago on my blog post feed.
Next week, I will be talking about my hobbies. So thanks for reading and as always, keep writing.