My name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. I’ve been lucky enough to have three of my books become best-sellers on Amazon, and two of them have won prestigious awards. I only tell you this because I want you to know that I am serious about my writing and will not publish a book until it is free of errors, and that means not until it has been edited many, many times.
I am also associated with another writer that you may have heard of, the famous (or infamous) Danny the Dog. He is also serious about his writing.
One thing both Danny and I agree on is that a writer cannot edit his or her own work.
Let me repeat that: YOU CANNOT EDIT YOUR OWN WORK!
Excuse me for yelling, but it is important that I get that thought through to you.
The number one complaint of indie books is poor editing.
Remember, on Amazon, people can read the first few chapters of your book. If it’s poorly edited, you won’t sell many books. And the few you do sell will probably get lousy reviews even if the story is dynamite.
Steinbeck, Hemingway, Fitzgerald—all the greats—had an army of editors and proofreaders behind them. I know you guys are indies and don’t have a big publishing house working with you like those authors did. However, there are steps that you can take to ensure that your manuscript is error-free. Notice I said “error-free” and not “as error-free as possible.” You must strive for perfection. Yes, you are allowed one, maybe two, typos but that’s all. In my last novel (139,000 words), one typo got through and it’s still driving me nuts.
And it’s not just typos you need to be concerned about. There’s a whole slew of things you’ve gotta look out for. Such as: spelling, punctuation, grammar, capitalization, abbreviations, repetitive words or phrases, sentence syntax, just to mention a few. Also, do you have an opening hook that grabs the reader’s interest right off the bat? Are dialogue tags appropriate or overused?
Okay, now here’s my advice to you: Go through your manuscript at least four times. Then farm it out to friends or family members to read. The more the merrier. You don’t want them to tell you what a great story it is; you already know that. You want them to advise you of your mistakes—the mistakes that you missed on your first four readings.
Next, correct what they have pointed out to you. After that, it’s your turn to give it another read through. Actually, you should have been doing that while your friends were going over the manuscript.
Now that you’ve gotten input from various sources and you’ve gone through the manuscript at least five times, you’re ready to publish. Right? Not by a long shot. Now you need the help of a professional.
I can already hear it: “I can’t afford a professional editor.”
My rejoinder: “Yes, you can.”
That’s where my editor comes in. She works tirelessly on my books from start to finish. I tell everyone that they would be unreadable if not for her. And it’s the truth.
Her name is Emily Gmitter and she runs Sunrise Editing Services. Her rates are very reasonable. She charges only $10.00 per thousand words if you have done what I suggested above, meaning if your manuscript is half-way clean. You can send her as little as 1,000 words at a time if that’s your budget.
When I first started writing I was in a big rush to get my first book up on Amazon and the other retailers. But I still went through my manuscript about twenty times with the help of a close friend, making correction after correction. The process took four months. When we thought we had it perfectly polished, I published.
Then I met Emily. She offered to go through my book just for the hell of it and see if she could find any errors. She found 220! Needless to say, I pulled the book and made the corrections.
I have been working with Emily ever since. Check out her website, the link is below.
I’ll leave you with this thought: In the end it is your name on the book. Do you want to be proud of it or embarrassed by it?
P.S. Danny has Emily edit all his short stories, many of which have been published here on Chris’ site.