After writing a book, the next big step is to edit it. Editing is incredibly important because it helps to make a book the best it can be, by keeping the story flow, making sure all the events are consistent, developing the characters, and even correcting grammatical and spelling errors, among many other things.
It can be embarrassing when a book has not been thoroughly edited. Good eReader reported once that “The famous Twilight series has a glaring error in book one–we’ll skip the discussions of the other five errors–but apparently Bella liked to watch the ‘dust moats’ instead of ‘dust motes’ as they floated around in the vacuum in front of her face.” Additionally, when Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy was first printed, it contained 40 pages of an unpublished manuscript in the middle.
Readers also have certain expectations of books, as outlined by Pubslush. SBPRA recently released a list of top editing mistakes writers make, which includes typographical errors and not getting permission to use copyrighted material.
How to Save Money on Editing
Before hiring a professional editor, there are a few steps indie authors can take to clean up their manuscripts and ultimately save a few bucks.
Keep track of your style elements. Beyond Paper Editing gives advice on using a style sheet when writing. It helps keep writers organized and their writing consistent, and passing the stylesheet on to an editor will let him or her know what to look for.
Shorten an editors before editing list. Beyond Paper Editing also gives tips on how to make a manuscript ready for editing. This includes deleting extra spaces, using the same fonts, and using bold and italics correctly. There is also a guide on how to use Word to clean up a manuscript.
Check the frequency of phrases. Use this tool on WriteWords to copy and paste passages and see often a particular word or phrase is used. If something is used too often, then you can easily rewrite.
Check for grammar. Use the Hemingway tool to find any basic grammatical errors, sentences that are too complicated, adverbs, passive voice, and more. It’s a more comprehensive tool than Word.
Proofread. The Word offers three techniques on how to proofread a story. It includes printing out the book (though to save paper you may want to consider reading it as a PDF), and narrowing your focus. ePublish a Book also has a helpful post, “Use the Five Cs of Copy Editing.”
Find beta readers. Having a handful of beta readers can greatly help to find any plot holes or other issues with a manuscript.
How to Find an Editor
It’s important to work with editors who you get along with and understand your work. The Pop Newsletter has a list of five steps to take when hiring an editor. Word of mouth can be helpful in finding an editor, but there are also many websites with recommendations. It’s also important to note the distinction between developmental editors and copy editors (proofreaders). Below are a few.
Backspace Ink: Joanne Shwed offers a wide variety of services, including copy-editing. She has proofread two of my books, and I recommend her work.
ideatrash: A list of editors and their rates. Many of these editors welcome working with writers when they have just finished NaNoWriMo.
Winning Edits: A site that caters to indie authors and helps with all levels of editing.