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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Rothstein

Undervaluing the Editing Process

In recent months I have been focused on supporting both my endeavors into the self-publishing world, as well as fellow Indie authors on social media. I have met some amazing and talented people online, there is even a small circle of us that communicate daily now. It’s been one of the most pleasant surprises of the entire book launch. I have written more than once how nervous I was to create a Twitter account, but it’s been so gratifying helping others, that I have found myself with a library full of self-published work. I think it will probably take me all summer just to catch up!

The past several blog posts have been about my journey with self-publishing and the things I have learned along the way. This week I wanted to return to the editing process. I wrote in an earlier post about the difficulties and stresses associated with having your work critiqued by a professional in the industry. Here’s a hint, it’s difficult!

I remember when self-publishing first came out through Amazon. It was a separate platform called Kindle Create. No published author, nor publishing house, wanted anything to do with it. If you had a book self-published somehow it was viewed as amateur and not worth buying compared to those that were published through the traditional method. Some of that was the snobbery of the literary world, much of which still exists today. But some of it was because there were no gatekeepers for quality control. At the time, there was a legitimate concern over poorly produced material hurting the industry overall. That’s because for the first time it was up to the author when a book was deemed ready for market and was that wise?

Back during this time I read blogs and articles all trying to predict what the future might hold for publishing, especially if this new avenue into the market were to catch on. Now, years later with most consumers shopping online, large bookstores going out of business, and a pandemic keeping us all indoors, attitudes have shifted once again. But has concern over the quality of the product changed? The honest answer is no, if anything, worry has probably increased.

From my perspective I think it’s due to a systemic issue I hear from many self-published authors about not needing an editor. I have heard and read it all. “I don’t need an editor” or “Editors are too expensive” or my favorite, “I edited it myself and used that money for Ad space.” The Ad space comment I will tackle in a future post, but for today I will say this. “We all need an editor.”

Let me differentiate for those that have not been through any sort of editing before. There are many different types of editing services available to you. The below snippet are just a few services offered through Reedsy, a company I have used multiple times.

The more services you use, the more expensive it is, but there is nothing that says you must use all or none. The truth is, if you don’t have anyone read your material before you launch, there will be things that you miss. How can you possibly catch every mistake you make? Mostly likely, you cannot. How many times have you read and re-read your own material? Scientists have now proven that if certain words, such as (a, the, or) are missing you will never catch those. That’s because your brain knows they should be there. So, when you get to that line to re-read it, you don’t see that it’s missing because your brain inserts it for you allowing you to move past it. A copy editor or proofreader however will catch those for you, but that’s not the only reason to hire one.

Everyone loves their own material, if they didn’t, they wouldn’t be looking to publish it. If you have plot issues, or you have written eight pages describing the neighbor’s backyard, who will tell you to cut that? Not your partner, well unless you use my husband and then he’ll tell you. What if you made ten promises to the reader and only delivered on eight, who will point that out? What if your point of view is all over the place and the reader is getting seasick over the head hopping, who will tell you that? No one in your circle of friends or loved ones is qualified to tell you these things. If they tell you it’s great, it’s not a license to drive that material to market.

Depending on your experience level, the number of books you have published, and your budget, what services you need will vary widely. It’s my strongest recommendation you consider utilizing an editor, especially if you are a first time author. I went with a developmental edit and could not have been happier with the result. For my next book in the series, I plan on doing that again but also adding a copy editor or proofreader as well since I noticed a few things here and there that I didn’t catch. If money is a real concern, reach out for services through your local library or negotiate a trade in services with someone you know that has this skill set. Don’t skimp on this part of the process, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Having your book riddled with errors, filled with too much descriptive writing, or leaving a reader unsatisfied at the end, are mistakes you cannot come back from.

Now that more and more published authors are bringing their books to Kindle, Indie authors are competing with some of the best in the business. Now more than ever, you need to be sure you are bringing a quality book to the market, because you know those best-selling authors are working with an editor.

Overall, if we want the publishing industry to take the work of Indie Authors seriously, we as authors need to stop undervaluing the editing process and embrace it instead.

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