More on the Importance of Editing for Indies


Wow! Haven’t made a post in a while. I apologize, but I have been busy working on the second book in my series as well as a short story. It’s been one of those, ‘If I write something else now, I’ll lose train of thought’ weeks.

I’m on here today because I got back the fourth of five edited copies of my first book, Journey of the Kings. I gave it out in late March to my five gracious editors. As I said in a previous post, editing for self-publishers is definitely the most important things. No, I do not mean you reading it through one time. No, it does not mean handing it to your wife/husband. No way they will give you completely honest feedback. For indie authors to ever get on the same playing field as authors that go the traditional publishing route, they have to become their own gatekeepers. Self-publishing should not be a shortcut to getting your work the readers. It should involve just as much work. Write it, rewrite it, edit, edit, edit, rewrite, professional cover, beta readers, etc. Whew!

Editing, again, is the most important of all of those. It needs to be done by a professional. This is, unfortunately, where you will have to fork over some dollars, if you have some. Maybe you’re lucky enough to know an editor, but make sure they are good at what they do. I have been lucky enough to connect with some great professionals in my area that actually do this kind of work. Now that I have four copies back, I have begun the process of going through book one and making the necessary changes.

What is the point of me telling you this story? Well, I want to tell you just how different some of these copies are as far as what they found and what it means for you. Before I gave the copies to my editors, I went back through the book and read it very slowly and very carefully, making changes the entire time. Now, of course I knew I wouldn’t catch everything, but even I was surprised at how many errors I let slip through. I mean, I did well in undergrad and grad school. Very well. Looking at my edited copied, you wouldn’t think so.

Even funnier was that, out of the four I have back, each of them have caught different errors. Sure, they all caught the obvious ones, but sometimes each would find something different on a single page. Each of them had stylistic differences, but some of the things they found differently were legitimate errors.

So, I wrote the book and then re-read it very slowly to check for errors. That’s two times through. Now I have four more times through from the editors. In each of them, different errors were found. Are you seeing the overriding message here?

YOU CANNOT DO WITHOUT SERIOUS EDITING! If you think you can, put your work-in-progress down and stop calling yourself a serious indie author. I know it sounds harsh, but if we don’t work to professionalize and get others to do the same, we are destined to fall victim to the naysayers. You know they’re out there, so let’s edit and work hard to prove them wrong.


Self-Publishing Editing – The Biggest Indie Flaw


So, since I’ve been integrating myself into the indie author scene, I’ve realized major themes that are constant. I mentioned many of them yesterday in my blog post about covers, but I want to talk about editing today.

We have always heard that editing is sooooo important. My high school English teachers and college professors would pretty much threaten us if we turned in badly edited papers. Of course, we all thought our work was fantastic as it was. We had read over it at least once, so it had to be great. Right? Nah.

No matter how great of a writer you are, someone else has to read your work. There are many benefits to this other than just finding grammar and spelling errors, and trust me, no matter how many times you have read your work, there will still be errors. It’s natural for us to miss our own mistakes. We have already written it once, so when our brain is reading it again, it knows what to expect. It jumps ahead. Unfortunately, our brain has a bad habit of jumping right over all of the errors.

I was a teacher for a while, so I have a new appreciation for the editing process. I didn’t realize just how easy it was to spot errors in a paper/book until I started reading stuff that had not passed through some kind of gatekeeper. Some of you may think that one or two errors are fine, and usually you’re right. A few errors can be forgiven if your book is spectacular. But finding more than a few, especially obvious errors, leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths. When I am reading a book and keep running into errors, I form a picture of the author in my mind. I picture them as sloppy and maybe even a little snobby. I mean, if you think your stuff is already good enough to not be edited, then I’m sorry, I won’t be reading any more of your stuff.

Sure, have family and close friends read your work. Tell them to be honest and brutal if need be. Guess what? They will still sugarcoat it for you. If you rely on family for editing, use them for part of the editing process, not the whole. Get your work out to acquaintances, not necessarily friends. Make sure you get it to people that will not hesitate to take a red pen to it!

Within a few days of being involved in the indie scene, a few people offered to beta read my book. As soon as I get my local copies back from editing and make changes, I’ll be using them. Who am I using locally? Well, of course my family, though I know not to rely 100% on that. I’m also going to be giving it out to professionals in the area that I have connected with throughout the years. They are friends, but they certainly have no problem being blunt. Two are former Marines, one has a doctorate in theology (my book needs God on its side), and others are marketing and finance professionals. I’ll feel pretty confident that most of the errors will have been found by then.

I mentioned above another benefit to the editing process. As long as this is part of the agreement, editors are great testers. Tell your editing crew to look for typical spelling, grammar, and flow errors. But also tell them to give you advice. Here are some questions I am sending along with my book –

  1. What intrigued you about novel?
  2. What disappointed you about the novel?
  3. Did anything surprise you?
  4. Who was your favorite character and why?
  5. Is there anything you would have cut? Added?
  6. Anything else I need to know?

I’ll think of a few more, but you get the point. By the time your book is ready to publish, it should have run the gauntlet. One of the biggest complaints about self-published authors is our lack of a gatekeeper. Well, it’s time to pony up and make our own gate. The only way to really change the minds of others and to gain a much larger readership in the indie scene is to make our work better than published work. It can be done, but first we have to get past ourselves.