Insights, News

To Hire an Editor or Not…That is the Question

Indie Authors face a challenge when it comes to getting their work out there: do they hire an editor? Many independent authors see the price tag of hiring an editor and back off: is it worth it? After all, as a writer, shouldn’t you already be familiar with sentence structure, grammar, and punctuation? 

Each indie author approaches how to edit their book differently. Some will go and hire an editor. Others will work on their own. Some might do something in between (hiring for proofreading only, or using a friend/relative). Everyone will have a different opinion on this, and that is why I reached out to multiple people in the community to find out their thoughts. 

First…My Opinion 

Personally, I believe if you have the means to hire an editor, do so! There are many editors with fair prices out there, while also providing writers with the tools they need to succeed. On all counts, I have a relatively firm grasp of the English language, but there are obscure rules that completely pass over my head. In fact, I even tried to take a single credit grammar class in college, and some of the rules were so strange I barely pulled off a “C” in the class. (Granted, I will admit, it was just a single credit so I could get my loan money for the semester, so I didn’t take it too seriously.)

But that being said, I searched for an editor because I knew my ability to completely polish my prose was limited. I really wanted to see it shine. In addition, I have the means to hire an editor and found an amazing editor within my price range. Charlie Knight helped me clean my prose and make the story pop, and without their help, I don’t think I would have ended up with the story I have today. As an editor, Charlie not only cleaned my prose, but helped me find plot holes and strange spots that even my beta readers missed. 

That, I think, is one of the many important things to take into account: editors don’t just find your spelling errors…they also help you develop the story into something, well, awesome. When you hire an editor with the proper training, they will really help make your writing shine! 

How do you find an editor?

Research! There are so many editors out there, and only YOU will know who is best for your story.

But, heed the following warning from Editor Charlie Knight…for there is fraudulent activity out there, and sometimes the amount you pay for an editor won’t be worth.

Per Charlie:

Indie publishing is, unfortunately, very open to the scam of people who have written books or beta’d for friends calling themselves editors. I regularly get new clients who were already screwed by one of these people. Best advice for avoiding them: Get samples. You’ll know if the editor can do their job and if you click.

This isn’t to say that your writer friends can’t help you edit…but be wary. Years of training and education goes into becoming an editor. Just because someone has a good understanding of grammar or story structure doesn’t mean they really understand how to be an effective editor. 

What if I can’t hire an editor? 

If you do not have the means to hire an editor, do not let this stop you from publishing. There are tools and courses out there that can help your writing pop! Here are just a few of them that I know of off the top of my head. If you know any more, please comment below!

  • ProWritingAid – I will say, I use this one before sending my book to beta readers! It helps clean up repetitiveness, grammatical errors, and passive voice. There is a free web-based version that lets you operate with 500-words at a time, or a subscription based attachment you can download to MS Word or Google Docs. 
  • Grammarly – We see this one everywhere! It’s a web attachment that you can use as a basic spell check, or you can use its priced services to help with editing.
  • Hemingway Editor – I don’t know too much about this one, but I know it helps identify a grade level for your writing and find overly complex sentence. 

There are also tons of resources to learn more about editing…just remember to heed each with caution!

While I still don’t think different software programs or self-training can replace someone who is trained, if you cannot hire an editor, these are the next best thing! But, I do believe that if you can find at least ONE person to read your work before you publish, even if it’s your friend or relative, then do so. They’ll catch things you don’t see. When you edit, after all, you are far too deep into the weeds to notice every little error. 

In fact, don’t just take it from me!  My editor, Charlie Knight, has very similar thoughts!

If you’re going to self-edit, my biggest pieces of advice would be to take recommendations from software like Grammarly or ProWritingAid with a grain of salt (they can’t read for voice), read your drafts out loud, and use beta readers.

Other authors have had their only thoughts regarding self-editing. Most of the time it has to do with costs. A few authors on instagram have voiced how the price-tag for an editor is too high for them at the moment. 

Author Kaitlyn Legaspi told me that, as a college student, it is hard to afford an editor. So she works with her boyfriend to read through her books and make it shine! 

But, there are other reasons too why authors don’t always hire an editor.  

Author SG Bacon doesn’t hire an editor directly, because she has a group of close companions who are effective editors. Her process is:

I do the first round of editing myself, just to make sure I’ve fixed any mistakes that stood out to me. Then, the next round is done with my mom and brother. I know having people close to you edit is something some people advise against, but it all depends, I think. I know that both my mom and brother won’t hold back on their opinions, so I will still get a good result. My final round of editing is with a family friend who is absolutely fantastic at catching little mistakes and picking up on things that might not make sense to the readers.

Author Céline Gelpe has a more methodical approach, once again working with people close to her while tackling her books. 

I did six rounds of editing (developmental, line, copy, proofreading), then I had a uncle who is a poet to do a final proofreading. I did the developmental and line editing after long discussions with beta readers. Talking with my beta-readers was great. I really enjoyed their feedback and I think that overall, my story benefited from their inputs. I had to justify things my characters would do and discovered them in the process. One also took the “job” of a sensitivity reader and made me realize my own bias and my own limits.

But Céline Gelpe has a word to the wise regarding using friends:

My beta-readers were my friends and did this as a favor to me, […] but I had to check regularly to see how they were doing on their reading. I had to actively seek them out for them to give the feedback. It’s not a nice feeling when, once a month, I have to write to them to know how far they are. It takes a toll on my well-being, and makes me feel a bit like a stalker. All of them took more time than they had initially thought. It’s okay, not everybody is a reader but instead of publishing my story 6 months after the final draft was done, it took a whole year.”

As I am sure you can see, there are so many different approaches to editing. While some ways may be better than others, if you want to get your story out there, find a way! Just find the method that best works for you.

Insights

On Editing with Tina Capricorn

Writing is hard. Editing can be harder, but it doesn’t have to be. 

Hi, I’m Tina, and I am fresh off the launch of my first book The Anchor of Time and I wanted to share some hot tips that I learned about editing.

First bit of advice, write better copy. This may seem like a no brainer, however after editing my first book–which took six years and many, many rewrites because–I realized I was teaching myself how to write better which made editing easier. But what does that mean?

Show Don’t Tell

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining, show me the glint of light on broken glass.” –Anton Chekhov

From your descriptions to your characters–show us, don’t tell us. Narrative summary is not an engaging way to get people to turn the pages. An actual scene with your characters conversing is a more engaging way to introduce your world, the plot/conflict, and your characters. When I read a book and there are pages of ‘info-dumping’ instead of clever world building, it’s an immediate DNF book.

‘As if’

Maybe this was more of a problem for me writing sci-fi/fantasy, but writing with conviction and certainty means this phrase is pretty much out of place (unless your character’s POV is unsure) ‘As if’ is a weakening phrase, it weakens the prose and the context it is setting up. Be bold, be certain–this is your story!

‘Found’ 

This is one that really annoyed me throughout the editing process. So many writers use it: ‘He found that he was unsure of what to do about the party.’ What did he find? Find is such a weird word, I like to relegate it to actual treasure or missing car keys in my work, not nebulous emotions. Look how much stronger the sentence is without it… ‘He realized he was unsure about what to do about the party.’ Realize is a more clarifying word and brings us closer to the character’s perspective.

Adverbs 

We’ve all heard it–adverbs weaken your copy. A string of adverbs and adjectives can be confusing and the words can actually detract from each other and the story! They are superfluous and considered by many in the biz (Stephen King among them) as lazy writing. This isn’t to say don’t use them, but use them sparingly and when you do, try to use unusual ones or not overuse the same one. Less is more with adverbs.

Some great books I used for reference are On Writing by Stephen KingThe First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman, and Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne & Dave King. The best way to become better at your craft is to practice every day, but also research. These books really helped me!

Have an Editing Plan

To all my indies out there, before you publish, hire a professional editor! This will help the manuscript so much, and it will give a professional touch. EVERYONE NEEDS AN EDITOR. No one writes a perfect first draft, and if they say they do, well then they’re selling something.

On my first book I had it professionally edited twice and at the very end, I tried to cut corners and let a very gracious family member (who offered) do my final proof read… but if you’ve never proofread a 90k document in Word before… let’s just say I recently hired someone and am doing a second edition this year because cutting corners just isn’t something to be done with a final proofread (I thought I was safe because I had it professionally edited twice, but no).

 I also realized that my editing process would really benefit from a final proofread after the ARC read is complete and I get all my final feedback. Now that I’ve done a book from start to finish, I have an editing plan for my second book:

  1. Finish Rough Draft
  2. Self-edit until you are satisfied it can be looked at and understood by another reader…
  3. Professional edit, development and structure. 
  4. Self-edit/add additional copy based on feedback.
  5. Beta Read, get some trusted friends to read it and give their feedback.
  6. Self edit based on feedback. Could also hire an editor to do line edits at this point.
  7. Release it into the wild with an Advanced Reader Copy. At this point the manuscript should be close to polished and ready for publishing. 
  8. Final Proofread! Hire someone, I think it’s worth it…
  9. Publish

Thanks for reading, if you want to follow along my writing, editing and publishing journey this year, find me on Instagram @tinacapricornwrites

You can find Tina Capricorn below…

Insights, News

The Good, the Bad & the Ugly of Editing

 Editing: it’s probably the most important aspect of publishing a book. More than the book cover or sometimes even the story itself, editing can often make or break a good story. Why? Because editing helps polish the story and make it shine. Without editing, a good story could become unreadable, cumbersome, and looked over by readers. 

As the first part of my series, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly of Self Publishing, we’re going to talk about Editing. Everyone has had both good and bad experiences with their editing: between using software, hiring editors, and discovering typos…we all are faced with different hurdles throughout our publishing journey.

Over the next two weeks I’ll be sharing thoughts and stories from many different authors (including myself) in regards to their experiences with editing. 

What can you look forward to in the coming weeks? Let me tell you!

  • Insights on editing software
  • Insights on finding and working with an editor
  • Mistakes that authors have made along the way
  • And more!

So stay tuned while we begin to discuss all these topics and more. As a reader, you might understand more about the amount of effort put into an author’s work. As a writer, you’ll learn about all your options. We can all continue to learn and improve our craft.

So if you’re interested, stay tuned.

Insights, News

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly of Self-Publishing – Authors Wanted

One thing is evident: self-publishing is hard.

But often times, people only celebrate their successes on social media. This makes sense. Who wants to share their dismal sales numbers or terrible reviews? 

Unfortunately though, self-publishing is riddle with obstacles like this. 

So I want to throw together a series of blog posts to discuss topics that might not be so readily explored so those getting ready to self-publish know what they are in for as they prepare their novel. 

So, I am looking for people to answer questions about the following subjects: 

  • Editing 
  • Cover Design
  • Sales & Marketing
  • Reviews 
  • Imposter Syndrome & Self-Doubt
  • And more!

I want candid answers that cover the good, the bad, and the ugly. Let us find out your marketing plan and what has worked! Tell us about the heartbreak you have suffered along the way! We want to know. 

We’re not racing against each other to be the best. We’re a team. Authors aren’t each other’s competition. We all write different stories.

So why not talk about these hurdles…and maybe, help each other overcome them?

If you are interested in participating, please fill out the form below! I’m looking for both people to be interviewed as well as guest blog posts.

I cannot wait to see your responses. 

Until next time,

ESB