As a writer, editing is, unfortunately, going to be a huge part of your life. Whether it be content or copy it’s going to be there, looming over your shoulder and breathing down your neck in probably the most ominous fashion it can manage. Bearing that in mind, I will attempt to make it easier on you with a few little gems of wisdom.
First off, this is my sort of “part 2” for beta reading. Considering content editing is essentially beta reading. So here’s my number one piece of advice: Don’t use a free editor. Don’t enlist your mother who has an English degree, don’t even talk to your English teacher. In some cases, avoid friends at all costs. I know a lot of people who write and have had to have their stuff edited before they publish or start querying. Out of all eight of them, I know only one who has had a good experience using a friend as an editor. He is, obviously the exception to the rule. This is because his friend had worked 20 years for reputable publications and was actually viewing his deal (he still paid, just at a lower price) as a business transaction. In every other instance, I know of, including my own sob story, that has not been the case. I have a friend who enlisted the help of her buddy who copy edits for a living and owns a publishing company, she paid him hundreds of dollars and he still could not perform in a timely manner. In another instance, another friend of mine hired the copy editor for a radio station (a friend who owed a favor), at which point she took way too much time and did not do a thorough job. Money is pretty much the purest motivator and you’re going to want someone who will respect you as a client and not some fogey who’s going to print off a book for their coffee table.
Which leads me to my next piece of advice- and believe me, folks, it’ll get preachy- my one regret for my most recently published book is that I didn’t get an industry professional to content edit (i.e. beta read) the manuscript. They’re going to offer opinions and point out things the average reader isn’t going to because nobody else really knows how to target an audience, or actually produce a book worth buying. Another friend of mine used a publishing company’s beta services, it cost about a hundred bucks and they were able to point out major flaws after she had proofed it through regular readers, such as pointing out things that the audience would likely view as creepy, and how not to undermine her female characters. By no means am I saying use Pint Sized service, but use someone’s. Cause it’s worth it.
Know that by the end you’re probably still not going to feel like it’s ready. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, that you’ll hate the work or the characters by the end. That it’ll never seem ready. But I’m here to tell you it won’t seem ready, and you will learn to dislike if not low-key hate your work when it’s all said and done. But there will come a point when you know that’s probably as far as it can go, or should go without too much more pain, anguish, and suffering on your part or the part of the people you’ve hired. So have no worries. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Keep this in mind on your journey: it’s 300 percent worth it to pay. Imagine it like this, if you see an indie movie that’s poorly made you’re going to chalk it up to a poor budget and walk away knowing you wasted your time. That is precisely how your readers will feel. You are starting a business, you are creating a product that people WILL want to buy. Make sure they aren’t going to be disappointed. Not everything, unfortunately, is a Pinterest DIY project. But the presence of mason jars in the editing process would probably make it so much more bearable.
Happy reading and writing
Please Check out Pint Sized Services on our page and feel free to read more of my writing in my newly released title “The Belle of Eden” here.
Sofia B Ashford