Book One/Two: Full Steam Ahead

Welcome to the first installment of Book One/Two!

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Since I got a book deal, the most common question I’ve been asked is why the book isn’t coming out for a year. The next most common question is how in the name of the fudge I’m going to squeeze the writing of a whole book into the time between now and next April, when – as evidenced by this thesis of a blog post – it took me approximately five times that to write the one I’ve just finished. (Darling, let me tell you: we’re both dying to know the answer to that). So between now and next summer, I’m going to do a monthly series called Book One/Two, where I update you on Distress Signals‘ publishing progress and my attempts at doing this all over again. Consider this the prologue and this the first proper installment. If you want to get future installments by e-mail, look for the sign-up box in the sidebar and footer. 

Got all that? Good. LET’S DO THIS.

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Book One: DISTRESS SIGNALS

PUBLICATION DATE: 2 JUNE 2016

Getting a book deal is a really weird experience. There’s a huge burst of excitement (when you get the news), then nothing for ages (because you can’t tell anyone the news), then another huge burst of excitement (when you’re finally allowed to tell people the news) and then nothing for ages again (because publication is AGES away so no wheels are turning yet). That’s why I didn’t start this back in March, when I got the deal, or back in May when I was allowed to tell you about it. It’s really taken until now – September – to have anything to tell you about. But much like waiting for buses, after seeing nothing for ages, lots of things then come along at once…

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A BOOK IS BORN

As I said, getting a book deal is a really weird experience, not least of all because at first, everything is happening by e-mail and phone. There’s nothing tangible, nothing you can hold in your hands, nothing that proves you aren’t dreaming the whole thing. The first time I did get something tangible was when I was given a copy of Atlantic’s trade catalogue, which was mostly exciting because Jesse Eisenberg was in it which helped convince my sister that this was A Big Deal.

I saw that catalogue in early April and at the start of this month, I happened to see the lovely Francesca at Atlantic tweet that the new catalogue was in. When I asked her whether or not I was in it, she tweeted a picture of the Distress Signals page for me. Complete with ISBNs and everything!

Distress Signals will be out in Ireland and the UK (and Australia and New Zealand) on June 2nd 2016, by which point I’m sure you’ll already be sick to the teeth of hearing about it. That’s the plan, anyway. The audio rights have also been sold, so we’ll have an audio version too. Which will be weird, I think. Imagine listening to someone else read your whole book aloud…? Bonkers.

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FANCY AUTHOR HEADSHOT TIME

I got an e-mail from my agent to say that Corvus/Atlantic were looking for my Proper Author Photo. At the time, the one I was using was a selfie I’d taken in my bathroom which, thanks to my iPhone’s selfie camera thingy, was flipped around and so didn’t look like me at all. It was also, in terms of pixels, the size of a postage stamp.

I enlisted the help of Steve Langan at CityHeadshots.ie (who I cannot recommend highly enough), told him I wanted to avoid leather jackets and exposed brick walls and spent a pleasant but somewhat weird Sunday morning posing in various Dublin lanes. The results are above.

The Manuscript

So yeah, that’s all very exciting – but what about the actual book? Well, last we heard my third official draft – my first with my editor at Corvus/Atlantic – had been sent off to the copyeditor. I got the copyedits back yesterday and went through all the corrections/suggestions on screen. The book has already been through a lot so it was mostly grammatical corrections and consistencies – things like e-mail/email, capitalizing brand names, etc. The copyedit has now been approved by my editor and is winging its way off to the typesetters.

The next time I see it it’ll be in page proofs: mocked up pages of my actual book. I don’t know how I’ll react to that, seeing as all this hasn’t really sunk in yet.

But if I need some bringing back down to earth, I only have to think about:

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Book Two: AS YET UNTITLED

DELIVERY DATE: APRIL 2016

Yes, you read that right: I have to deliver Book 2 by the end of April 2016.

The book I haven’t written a word of yet.

Yes, really.

*eye twitches in new anxiety-induced nervous tick*

But I’m not panicking. I was, for a while back there, but I’m okay now. Because I know I can do it. Moreover, I have to do it so whether or not I think I can is irrelevant.

Here’s the thing: it actually did not take me that long to write Distress Signals. Yes, I thought about it for about two years before I actually sat down and wrote a proper draft, but the actual writing-down-words bit was done in just a few months. So I know I have enough time to actually think up and write down 100,000 words. What concerns me is that I don’t have the incubation period that I had with the first book. I don’t have the luxury of it. But maybe, in some weird way, it’ll be a good thing. More exhilarating. More dynamic.

(That’s what I’m telling myself anyway.)

Where am I right now with Book 2? I have a plot outline – the most important bit for me – and between now and Christmas, I’ll chuck up a Vomit Draft. Then over Christmas that draft will go to my agent and my agent’s in-house editor for feedback, notes, etc. Come January, I’ll sit down and write another, proper draft, and that’s the one that’ll go to my editor at Corvus/Atlantic in April.

(Right before I knuckle down to study for my university exams in May, which are right before the launch of Distress Signals in June… Oh dear god.)

Simples!

*eye twitches again*

So that’s all the news for now. Join me next month for the next installment of Book One/Two when we’ll hopefully have… drum roll, please… A COVER! 

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Structural Editing For Self-Publishers

Following on from last week’s very popular guest post, Why Hire An Editor?, Robert Doran, editorial director at Kazoo Independent Publishing Services, is back today to tell us about structural editing. While copyediting and proofreading are absolute musts, I don’t think a self-publisher’s money is always put to best use by getting a structural edit for their book. So today Robert gives us some tips on, first of all, what a structural edit is, and secondly, what we can do ourselves to ensure our book is structurally sound. Welcome back, Robert!

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Structurally Sound

Structural editing (sometimes called developmental editing or substantive editing) is the most complex and time-consuming stage of the editorial process. As a result it’s also the most expensive. Nevertheless a structural edit is something that most manuscripts can benefit greatly from. So what’s a self-publisher to do?

I know you’re expecting me to say, ‘Hire an editor!’ and if you can afford to do that, it’s probably the best option. But if paying for a structural edit means you won’t be able to afford a copy-edit, you need to consider other solutions. A copy-edit, to my mind, really isn’t optional, and it will always be the most effective way to spend your budget.

We’ll come back to how you can best handle structural editing in a bit, but first let’s look at what it actually is. Structural editing is looking at the big picture. It’s evaluating a manuscript as a whole and analysing how well its constituent parts contribute to the central message or narrative. Whereas the copy-editor takes a micro view, drilling into the detail, the structural editor goes macro and asks, ‘Does this work as a book?’

In fiction, the main areas that a structural editor will address are:

  • Plot: Does the plot make sense? Is it believable? Is it satisfying or does it leave the reader frustrated?
  • Themes: Are the themes effectively handled? Are there so many that the book lacks focus? Do they interfere with the plot or complement it?
  • Characterisation: Are your characters well developed and believable? Are they cast in a role that fits their personality? Do they sometimes behave out of character?
  • Point of view/voice: Is the voice consistent or is it sometimes confused? Is the voice authentic? Are you using too many or too few POVs?
  • Pace: Does the plot move forward at an appropriate pace? Should you cut that preface? Should the action happen sooner or should the tension build more slowly?
  • Dialogue: Do your characters sound real when they speak? Is your dialogue cluttered with adverbs and beats? Do you use clunky dialogue to move the plot forward?
  • Flow: Is the narrative interrupted by dead-ends and tangents? Is there so much back story that the main plot is dwarfed? Are there missing plot points that would give the narrative greater integrity?

In non-fiction, the principle is the same, but the specific issues are slightly different:

  • Thesis: Is your thesis relevant? Is it clearly defined or is it lost among marginal issues?
  • Exposition: Are your arguments clear and cogent? Are they well researched and properly supported? Do they have a clear relationship with your thesis?
  • Content: Are all the necessary topics sufficiently dealt with? Are the chapters weighted correctly? Is there superfluous content?
  • Organisation: Is the information organised logically? Are tables and illustrations used appropriately? How many levels of subheads do you need and how should they be arranged?
  • Tone: Is the tone appropriate for the audience? Do you need to eliminate jargon? Is the text accessible?
  • Pace: Are there passages that are bogged down in detail? Do you spend too long on detail irrelevant to the main thesis? Are there areas that need further exposition lest they be skipped over?

Although a structural editor may do a little copy-editing as they work through your manuscript, that is not what they are being paid to do. Their focus is much broader, and they will return your manuscript marked up with constructive comments and suggested rewrites that will in any case render the corrections pointless.

So, if you’re saving your money for a copy-edit, what do you do about structure?

Leave it alone. Put your manuscript in a drawer for a few weeks and forget about it. When you come back to it you’ll see it with fresh eyes and you’ll be in a much better position to read it critically. Then cut ruthlessly. Strip it out. Spike anything that you think you might use later or rewrite. You’re likely to find that your cuts have resulted in a tighter, more readable, and more enjoyable book.

Join a writing group. Creative-writing groups provide a great forum in which to have your work critiqued by people who are as passionate about writing as you are. Some opinions may be more informed than others, and you may have to sift through some personal prejudices before you get to the useful pointers, but there are bound to be people whose opinion you value. Keep an open mind and always thank people for their feedback, even if it’s unjustified criticism. If you’re seen to react badly, people with a real talent for spotting problems might choose to keep their comments to themselves. Critiquing sites and internet author forums can also be a great source of feedback and support, especially if you’re the sort of writer who doesn’t like to leave the house. Harper Collins set up Authoronomy.com as a novel way of finding new talent, but it’s also a great place to connect with other writers. YouWriteOn.com offers a similar service. You can read about Irish author Bob Burke’s experience with the site here.

Read books on writing. There are hundreds of books out there on writing. There are books on plot, dialogue, point of view, editing, and every other aspect of crafting a good book. The information is there for you to apply to your own manuscript if you’re prepared to spend fifty quid and a couple of weeks studying the texts. It might not be the same as having a fresh pair of eyes tackle your MS, but if you put a bit of distance between you and your work, you should be able to put your new skills to effective use.

Read the competition. It’s great to be original, but unless you’re Joyce or Kafka it’s best not to be too different. Your competition represents a good guide to what’s expected from you. You should aim to produce something better, extra or novel that adds to the canon, but don’t stray too far from the beaten track or your book won’t fit on any shelf. Read books published in your category in as critical a manner as possible. It helps if you’ve read a few books on writing first – you’ll find that issues to which you were previously oblivious suddenly come into sharp relief. Try to deconstruct the books and analyse how plot, characterisation, pace, etc., are handled, chapter by chapter. Many authors in your category will have faced similar dilemmas as you, and it helps to analyse their results.

It’s true that none of this entirely replaces a professional structural edit, but you can bring your manuscript a long way by investing just a few quid and some reading time. After you’ve done all this, it’s worth having a chat with your copy-editor to explain how you’ve edited. If you show them that you’ve put in the effort and, if you’re extra nice to them, they’ll be glad to watch out for any remaining structural issues. They may not deal with the problems in depth, but they’ll flag them, and, with all that reading under your belt, you’ll have no trouble sorting them out.

Robert Doran is Editorial Director at Kazoo Independent Publishing Services (www.kazoopublishing.com), a one-stop shop for indie authors who want to publish industry-standard books. He has nearly twenty years’ experience in bringing books to market and has worked as an editor, project manager, sales manager, and bookseller in Ireland and in the UK. He is a big fan of the Oxford comma. Follow him on Twitter @RobertEdits.

[Catherine’s note: Back in February I got to listen to the lovely Sarah Savitt talk about editing at Faber Academy, and she said, ‘The editor’s job is to ask the questions.’ She gave us some editorial notes to look at, and they were things that would be going through a reader’s head in a few month’s time if Sarah hadn’t raised them. Like: Why would this character forgive him? She’s no reason to, and But two pages back he said he didn’t agree with that! and I don’t understand why she doesn’t leave the car there?? A structural edit means that these questions get asked—and answered—in private (among other improvements!), before the book hits the virtual shelves, and not on Goodreads and Amazon customer reviews. Haven’t we all seen reviews where readers said something like, ‘I just didn’t get why he/she did that’? It’s like an English essay I wrote when I was in Sixth Class (age 12). The teacher, who usually championed my attempts, made me read out my mysterious character-being-chased-through-the-woods-at-night story (I was big into The X-Files then), before saying in front of everyone, ‘Catherine, you are the only one who knows what’s happening in this story.’ It’s a lesson I never forgot!)

Why Hire an Editor?

Let me count the ways I have tried to get the point across that you—yes, YOU—need an editor: I’ve said so in my book, I’ve made a video, I’ve told you why I desperately needed one… I’ve tried it every which way I can. It does seem like the message is sinking in somewhat, but I still meet self-publishers who think they’ll manage fine by themselves and send their book out into the world without it ever passing by the eyes of a professional editor. Which would be fine, if it wasn’t for the price-tag they’ve put on it. So today, my latest attempt is a guest post from Robert Doran, editorial director at Kazoo Independent Publishing Services, on why you should hire an editor. Read right through to the end for some vague hinting at something that’s, potentially, mildly exciting (at best) that starts here on this blog tomorrow. (Oooh, the mystery!)

Take it away, Robert… 

‘Here we go,’ I hear you say, ‘an editor telling us why we can’t do without editors.’ I would say that, wouldn’t I? Well, yes, I would. But I’m not only advocating for the editor here. Your readers deserve to get what they pay for, and your book deserves to be given a chance to compete successfully when you send it out to represent you in a crowded market. Hiring an editor to copy-edit your work is the bare minimum you can do to allow that to happen. But time and again authors decide to skip this step and to publish an unedited manuscript, hoping for the best. Let’s look at why.

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Lots of professionally edited books don’t sell. You’re right: having your book edited won’t guarantee you sales. There are thousands of professionally edited books published every year by traditional publishers that sell just a few hundred copies. A quick browse through any bookstore bargain basement will expose the truth that a book can be edited to within an inch of its life and still bomb. But that doesn’t change the fact that readers expect books to be edited in the same way that they expect cars to have wheels and beef burgers to have beef in them. It’s a basic requirement, not a selling point.

It’s not that readers spend much time thinking about the editorial process. They don’t, and that’s as it should be. The editing should be invisible, imperceptible. It’s only when it’s absent or shoddy that it becomes noticeable. And when readers notice it, they like to shout about it – just have a quick browse through a few of the gleeful ‘it was riddled with mistakes’ reviews that litter Amazon. When you open a book you have paid for and begin reading, you expect certain standards to be upheld, just as when you bite into a beef burger, you expect, well, beef. That’s what readers are used to, and they feel cheated when it clearly hasn’t been done.

But it’s expensive. Yes it is. You can reduce the amount of time an editor spends on your manuscript by sorting out as many issues as possible before you hire someone. This will help to keep the cost down. But editors are never going to be cheap, nor should they be. They offer a professional and often highly specialised service. Most editors have spent years studying and honing their skills, and they charge a fair fee based on their experience and expertise. When you get your marked-up manuscript back you’ll understand how much time, effort, and skill went into editing your work.

If you’re going to self-publish, you must, to some extent at least, act like a publisher. This means building the cost of editing, along with the other production costs, into the price of your book. Do you want a horse burger for 10¢ or a beef burger for €1? People do understand that higher standards cost more. Your book doesn’t have to be cheap, but it does have to represent value, and quality adds value to any product.

My friend read it, and she reads a lot. Great. Get as many friends as possible to read your book. Get your GP and your parish priest and Mary next door to read it. Every bit of feedback helps, and you should welcome it all and consider any suggestions your readers make. In particular, I think it’s worth joining a creative-writing group and having your work critiqued by your peers. But beware the nature of these relationships. People generally don’t want to criticise their friend’s work – they’d rather not offend. An editor will always take your feelings into consideration, but you are paying them to help you with your book and that will be the focus of your relationship. Even if your ego gets slightly bruised, your book will benefit, as will your readers.

Also, no matter how well versed your friends are in the rules of grammar, no matter how familiar they are with the vagaries of the English language, only an editor is likely to know and care enough about dangling modifiers, redundancies, hyphenation of compound adjectives, repetition, consistency of punctuation, presentation of numerals, elision, etc., to point them out and suggest appropriate corrections or amendments.

I can edit my own work. Certainly many authors can do a lot of structural editing without the help of an editor, and we’ll talk more about this in the next post. Structural editing can be fun, creative, and rewarding for the author; copy-editing, on the other hand, is essentially a technical task, more suited to those of us of a geekier persuasion. It is nigh on impossible to copy-edit your own work. You’re too close to it to pick up the tiny errors and the stuff that you don’t even know you don’t know. As an editor I have spent a lot of time studying obscure rules, semi-rules, and conventions-that-should-be-followed-unless-you-think-it’s-okay-to-break-them, yet I would never copy-edit my own work; I don’t know an editor in Christendom who would.

I want it to be all my own work. Naturally you want your work to sound like you wrote it. An editor is always conscious of the fact that it is your name that will be on the cover and that it is your work they are editing. They will intervene only as much as you ask them to. The editor’s aim is never to remove the author’s voice but to enhance it and allow it to shine by introducing structure and consistency, and by applying rules. It is when you get these things right that they become invisible to the reader, your message is amplified, and the quality of your writing is appreciated. Good times!

I always find mistakes in edited books. And you always will. Editors are not perfect, neither are proofreaders. The job they do is difficult, and, unfortunately, things will always slip through unless the manuscript is exceptionally clean in the first instance. It’s always worth noting the number of errors that were caught before going crazy over the couple that weren’t. And remember that a copy-editor’s job is much broader than catching typos – but more about that in a couple of weeks.

I’ll just download an editing program and use that. Go on, I dare you! These programs are so rubbish they make me want to cry. They might pick up a few typos but they consistently make odd suggestions on usage and, in my opinion, they serve only to confuse and delay.

Hiring an editor may or may not pay financial dividends: you will never know about the books you might not have sold or the bad reviews you didn’t receive. But the bottom line is that an editor will make your book better, no matter what point you’re starting from. Before you hire one, talk to a few and see who you’re most comfortable with. Ask them to prepare a short sample to give you an idea of what they can do for your manuscript and discuss the level of edit you feel would be appropriate. Ultimately, the author–editor relationship can be very rewarding for you, for the editor, and for your work.

Robert Doran is Editorial Director at Kazoo Independent Publishing Services (www.kazoopublishing.com), a one-stop shop for indie authors who want to publish industry-standard books. He has nearly twenty years’ experience in bringing books to market and has worked as an editor, project manager, sales manager, and bookseller in Ireland and in the UK. He is a big fan of the Oxford comma. Follow him on Twitter @RobertEdits.

The mysterious bit: tomorrow is the three-year anniversary of a very exciting day in my self-publishing adventures, and to mark the occasion I will be (a) showcasing something new and lovely, (b) writing a new post every day for a week and (c) giving YOU the chance the win stuff. Be back here tomorrow with a coffee in hand for the start of… superfluous drumroll please… MOUSETRAPPED MADNESS! 

Edit Where Edit’s Due: A Guest Post by Stephanie of Saltwater Publishing

Today we have a guest post by Stephanie Boner of Dublin-based Saltwater Publishing, about one of the most crucial aspects of publishing a book, be it traditional or self-publishing: editing. Here, she’ll explain the differences between things like copyediting and proofreading, what happens to a book when it’s being prepared for publication at a publishing house and allays a fear that I often hear self-publishers express—no, an editor isn’t going to correct or change your book, but work with you to make it a better version of itself. So, without further ado, here’s Stephanie: 

No matter what changes the advances in technology and printing may bring to the publishing industry, it is the quality of a book’s writing that will always be paramount. A well-written book does not just leap from the mind of the author onto the page; it needs to be sculpted, honed and nurtured.

With the rise in popularity of self-publishing, the role of the traditional publisher is viewed as being increasingly unnecessary. While this in itself may not be such a bad thing, one does not want to throw one’s baby out with the bath water. In other words, while the growing culture of self-publishing has allowed the author new autonomy and control, the necessity of having a good editor is as important today as it ever was.

Of course, the editor does not claim to be more skilled a writer than the author; the most accomplished writers in the world need editors, after all. An editor, however, provides an author with two things. Firstly, as all writers know, writing, especially fiction, is an all-consuming activity. The old hackneyed cliché of the novel being the writer’s baby is an effective one, in that, like a parent, it is difficult to criticise or assess something with which you are so emotionally intimate. An editor approaches a manuscript with fresh eyes, without preconceptions and with the all-important benefit of distance. With their experience and skills, they use this distance to analyse a piece of writing in a way that is simply not possible for the loving parent. They know what works and what doesn’t. They offer ways out of the labyrinth when the writer is facing a dead end. This kind of analysis is not a luxury. It is the essential bridge between the ideas of the author and the demands and expectations of a reader.

Secondly, professional editors are essentially giant nerds. The glee they get from spotting a hyphen that should be an en-dash, or from being asked to explain what an Oxford comma is, might seem a tad pathetic, but they have the necessary skills for assuring the baby doesn’t leave the house with food on his face. So while an author may miss a comma or two, worrying about the nuances and subtleties of plot development and character, the editor can be relied on to wield her trusty red pen and set the world to rights.

When a book is published through the traditional channels, the manuscript is put through a number of processes before it is deemed worthy of the printer’s ink and every self-published work is worthy of exactly the same rigorous process. In the current market, where the number of self-published books is exploding and all traditional publishing houses are turning towards digital publishing, an author must do everything they can to take on the competition.

This process varies dramatically from publishing house to publishing house but generally speaking, once the contract has been signed, the manuscript is designated an editor. This editor reads and assesses the work and gives it a structural edit. This is done either in consultation or in conjunction with the author. There is usually a list of suggestions sent back to the author, advising him to move around some sections, to develop a character, to deal with issues of consistency and so on. Very significant changes may be suggested at this stage or it may be that author and editor are, from the outset, very much on the same page, so to speak.

Once the overall structure and form has been agreed on, the manuscript is copy-edited. This is a much narrower process, focusing on the detail of each line and paragraph of text. At this stage, the editor looks at issues such as tone, syntax, and continuity. They consider the consistency of the speech patterns of the characters, the logic of the sequence of events, anachronisms, repetition and the like. Once this is complete, the author is handed back their new and improved baby to ensure that they are happy with its development and if not, revisions are made.

Finally, in most cases, a new editor comes on board to proofread the copy. This takes place after the text has been formatted for print or eBook. It is a finicky and fastidious exercise, where one is consumed with such geeky issues as word breaks, leading and kerning. Of course, all spelling and grammar is checked again to ensure it is just so. Before the manuscript is sent off to press or uploaded into the ether of the internet, it is given one final going over before we say our tearful farewells and the baby takes its first steps into the big, bad world.

For writers who intend to self-publish, their work is put at an immediate disadvantage if it is not subject to the same process and brought to trade standard. While everyone knows someone who’s good at spotting spelling mistakes and who is willing to throw their eye over something for you in exchange for a pint, it is not quite the same thing. Allowing a manuscript to be assessed and polished by experienced and professional editors, using the tried and tested processes that have stood the test of time in the publishing industry, truly makes the work shine.

Essentially, an editor would not be doing the job they do if they didn’t love books. This love translates into a desire to see books fulfill their potential and therefore editor and author share a common goal. To produce the best book possible, it is imperative that the author and editor enjoy a positive and open relationship. Another hackneyed cliché we hear bandied about is that of the editor taking a sharp scalpel to a manuscript. But in reality this is not at all what we do. We tend to take a much less ruthless and more collaborative approach to a book. It is, after all, the author’s baby.

Established in 2010 by Publishing Directors Stephanie Boner and Maeve Convery, Saltwater is an independent publishing and editorial services company based in Dublin. Along with our trade publications, we specialise in editing and proofreading for authors who intend to self-publish. Feel free to contact us at info@saltwater.ie or at (01) 2449488.

REPLAY 2011: Why You Need an Editor: A Demonstration

Between now and the end of the year I’m going to be using Tuesdays and Thursdays to replay some popular posts from 2011, in case some of the people who’ve discovered my blog in the meantime missed it first time round. Think of it as a “year in review” kind of thing. This post first appeared in August, and it wasn’t a coincidence that I was editing Backpacked at the time. In the comments it was agreed that my exception number 1—you being a professional editor—wasn’t an exception, as even editors cannot edit their own work. So, unless you’re planning on publishing a book of blank pages, get an editor. 

Self-publishers need to get their books professionally copyedited. Ideally they should have their books structurally edited, copyedited and proofread, but when you have a large number of people not listening to you about something, you have to start with baby steps. So let’s just say – for now – that self-publishers have to get their books copyedited, at least, before they release them out into the world.

That includes you.

Yes, you.

No, really – it does include YOU.

In fact, there are only two acceptable excuses for not getting your book professionally copyedited (i.e. paying someone to do it) before you self-publish. They are:

  1. You being a professional editor
  2. Your book having no words in it.

Do NOT make the naive mistake of confusing copyediting with looking for typos. If you believe that, then you probably need a copyeditor more than most. Every single day – it seems – I meet a writer about to self-publish, in the process of self-publishing or who has already self-published who disagrees with me on this issue. They don’t need an editor, they claim. Or they can’t afford to hire one.

Well, you do need one, and if you can’t afford to make your book the best it can be (or even just readable, depending on your grasp of grammar, punctuation, etc.), then don’t self-publish it. I’ve done everything I can to convince self-publishers otherwise – explaining how it’ll lead to humiliation, bad reviews, loss of sales, nuclear annihilation of your career, etc. etc. – but still, many don’t listen.

So I keep trying, and my latest attempt is this:

This is a (silent) video showing you how much copyediting had to be done to Backpacked. By the time my editor got a hold of it, I had rewritten it twice and, hey, I have a fairly good grasp of the English language. In other words, my book was in relatively good shape. And yet, as you’ll see in the video, there were plenty of corrections.

Please, self-publishing boys and girls. GET AN EDITOR. I have two I highly recommend if you need their contact information. But do it. If you don’t, it may be the most costly mistake – financially and professionally – you’ll ever make.

(Dum dum DUUUUMMMM.)

(That was scary dramatic music, if that wasn’t clear.)

Why You Need an Editor: A Demonstration

oldpost

Self-publishers need to get their books professionally copyedited. Ideally they should have their books structurally edited, copyedited and proofread, but when you have a large number of people not listening to you about something, you have to start with baby steps. So let’s just say – for now – that self-publishers have to get their books copyedited, at least, before they release them out into the world.

That includes you.

Yes, you.

No, really – it does include YOU.

In fact, there are only two acceptable excuses for not getting your book professionally copyedited (i.e. paying someone to do it) before you self-publish. They are:

  1. You being a professional editor
  2. Your book having no words in it.

Do NOT make the naive mistake of confusing copyediting with looking for typos. If you believe that, then you probably need a copyeditor more than most. Every single day – it seems – I meet a writer about to self-publish, in the process of self-publishing or who has already self-published who disagrees with me on this issue. They don’t need an editor, they claim. Or they can’t afford to hire one.

Well, you do need one, and if you can’t afford to make your book the best it can be (or even just readable, depending on your grasp of grammar, punctuation, etc.), then don’t self-publish it. I’ve done everything I can to convince self-publishers otherwise – explaining how it’ll lead to humiliation, bad reviews, loss of sales, nuclear annihilation of your career, etc. etc. – but still, many don’t listen.

So I keep trying, and my latest attempt is this:

This is a (silent) video showing you how much copyediting had to be done to Backpacked. By the time my editor got a hold of it, I had rewritten it twice and, hey, I have a fairly good grasp of the English language. In other words, my book was in relatively good shape. And yet, as you’ll see in the video, there were plenty of corrections.

Please, self-publishing boys and girls. GET AN EDITOR. I have two I highly recommend if you need their contact information. But do it. If you don’t, it may be the most costly mistake – financially and professionally – you’ll ever make.

(Dum dum DUUUUMMMM.)

(That was scary dramatic music, if that wasn’t clear.)

Backpacked is out soon. Find out more about the book here.