If You Self Publish, Hire an Editor

04 May

The world of publishing continues to expand as everyone has the capability to publish their own works as ebooks, bound books, and other formats. Which has a lot of people in the publishing world up in arms over things like standards and quality and worthiness.

Let’s face it: we all know that crappy books get published the old fashioned way, and that really good books have come out of the piles of self-published books. But in general, self published books can tend to be wordy, unfocused, self-serving, and poorly written, while traditionally published books at the very least have received several rounds of copyediting and proofreading.

When the subject comes up in the circles of writers, agents, editors and other professionals with whom I talk, it’s usually a matter of quality. I mean, nobody thinks it’s a bad idea to make books available in as many formats as possible. I know authors, like Kristiana Gregory, who are getting rights back to their traditionally published books that are now out of print and making them available as ebooks. Brilliant. Joni Sensel had a trilogy, only two of which were published the traditional way, then the publisher declined to buy the final book, so she put it out into the world as an ebook, mostly to satisfy her readers who wanted the end of the story. These are fabulous ways of utilizing this technology.

What bothers most of us about the vast majority of self-published works is that everyone on the planet, it seems, has “an idea for a book.” It might even be a really good idea, but they don’t take the time to learn how to write or to hire someone to edit for them, so they end up putting out a really, really bad book. That could have potentially been a really good book, but now it’s too late. Our society’s tendency toward instantaneous fame and fortune, instant everything doesn’t exactly encourage folks to take time and learn their craft.

So I want people, those people especially, to know that there are some of us in this world whom you can hire to edit your book for you. I have been doing this for many years now, and I love making books better. Really, wouldn’t you rather have a good book out there with your name on it than a bad one? When I edit books, I don’t mean I just fix the spelling and the grammar. I will tell authors exactly the kinds of things an editor at a traditional publishing house will tell you: where the plots lags, where the dialogue is stiff, why long passages of description aren’t working, why you need to delete the first six chapters and then rewrite the next ten.

I’m not trying to drum up business here (although feel free to contact me if you want some editing services), but I want authors to know that even if you go the self-publishing route, whether you are doing electronic or print, you have options and you should take advantage of them, to make sure your book is the absolute best it can be when you put it out there. Please. For the good of everyone, please, don’t put a book out into the world without someone editing it for you first. There are lots of us out here doing this, so find one within your price range and get your book edited.

That said, just remember, when you take on self-publishing, you are taking on all the costs, risks, and marketing yourself. So when I edit your book, you are going to have to pay for it. And I won’t be able to guarantee sales, but nobody can do that. So don’t ask me, or anyone (except your friends and family) to do this for free. Don’t expect it to be cheap. Remember, you get what you pay for in this world. Don’t be a miser when it comes to editing. Be a miser when it comes to something else, but not this. That’s how important it is to making your product its absolute best.


Posted by on May 4, 2012 in Idaho


6 responses to “If You Self Publish, Hire an Editor

  1. Liz Fredericks

    May 4, 2012 at 6:48 AM

    Excellent blog, Neysa! I admit to preferring people learn their craft. This applies both to fiction and nonfiction. I do understand and applaud the need for editors and a strict eye, but am a little frustrated when people don’t spend time on their writing in advance of employing a copy editor and then expecting that person to fix everything. I think it still comes down to your observation about craft – if you care about writing, you’ll invest the time to learn and you’ll need to be a lifelong learner because there’s always something more.

  2. Janis McCurry

    May 4, 2012 at 7:29 AM

    “For the good of everyone, please, don’t put a book out into the world without someone editing it for you first. ” That covers it!

  3. blankenshiplouise

    May 4, 2012 at 7:41 AM

    I’m just looking around for rates and editors who’ll work with science fiction… do you have a web page?

  4. Terri Farley

    May 4, 2012 at 7:44 AM

    Applause for a well-considered response to our going-every-which-way business! Sharing & saving this,

  5. marsharwest

    May 4, 2012 at 10:08 AM

    Hey, Neysa. Good points. I put aside a book on my Nook that was e-pubbed, I believe, or possibly self-pubbed. When I began writing almost five years ago, I knew nothing about the craft of romance writing, and I head-hopped the way the author of the book I mentioned did. But fortunately, I found kind judges in contests who pointed me in the direction of classes and books to help. I don’t head hop anymore (or at least when it slips in with a line, I catch it in self-edits or my CP does . I write in multiple POV, but I’m careful. I didn’t keep reading the book because I was afraid that style would climb back into my head. 🙂 I worked hard to break myself of the habit and wasn’t taking a chance.

    It’s possible I will look at self-pubbing maybe next year if nothing has popped by then, but I’d never send it without a good editor checking the ms. (I’m not sure you can ever catch everything, even with lots of eyes checking out the ms.) Since my husband (the lawyer), catches a ton, I’d like him to look, but he freaks when he finds stuff he thinks I should’ve caught. I’m glad to know you’re out there, Neysa, and available to hire. Thoughtful post. Thanks.

  6. Clarissa Southwick

    May 6, 2012 at 11:59 AM

    Great advice, Neysa. You only get one chance to hook a reader. You don’t want them putting you on the “never buy again” list because the technical errors made them want to through the book across the room.


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