Thursday, July 4, 2013

Who You Gonna Call? Professional Editors!

Indie authors have got themselves a bad rep for publishing books with poor grammar and terrible spelling.  They have neglected to learn about standard book layout and what works best for different formats like ebooks.  Indie authors get many bad reviews for plot holes, weak character development, and clich├ęd dialogue.  Bad grammar, bad spelling and bad plot lines lead to bad reviews, and bad reviews lead to poor sales.  You get the idea.
So what do you need to do to ensure that your story gets the best pre-publishing treatment?
First thing is to do your own re-writing and editing.  You will be amazed at what you can do if you take out all those superfluous words.  They say that with writing a book, you should write it four times.  Write it first time – get everything down but edit it daily before you continue to write.  Then go through the whole story again and edit it – every word.  Then print the whole thing, edit it with pen on paper and type those edits into your script.  The last edit involves reading the story out loud and noting anywhere the text doesn't flow or feels 'wrong' as you speak it out.  You then make changes on the computer.
Once you have completed your final edit, you need to find someone to read your story and give you feedback.  These people are called 'beta-readers' and are great for letting you know what works and what doesn't work in your story.  These people need to have some experience in writing and reading in the genre in which you are writing, and it does help to get people who aren't family.  Find people who are straight-up – who will tell you if something is lame and needs fixing.  You do not need 'yes men' to tell you that your story is amazing and that you should publish it – you already know that.  You need people who are going to give you serious criticism.
Once you have satisfied the 'Edit Gods' – those picky, finicky, know-it-all, gained-top-credits-in-year-13-English people – then you can take your manuscript to a professional editor and proofreader.  Please, PLEASE, do not skimp on this part of the process.  If there is one thing I hope you get out of this post, it is that you need a PROFESSIONAL PROOFREADER AND EDITOR!!  Got that???
What can a professional editor and proofreader do for you that your beta-reader can't?  There are three types of editors.  Let's have a look – thanks again Wikipedia!
Editing is the process of selecting and preparing written, visual, audible, and film media used to convey information.  The editing process can involve correction, condensation, organization, and other modifications performed with an intention of producing a correct, consistent, accurate, and complete work.
Copy editing (also copy-editing, copyediting) is the work that an editor does to improve the formatting, style, and accuracy of text.  Unlike general editing, copy editing might not involve changing the substance of the text.  Copy refers to written or typewritten text for typesetting, printing, or publication.  Copy editing is done before both typesetting and proofreading, the latter of which is the last step in the editorial cycle.
Proofreading is the reading of a galley proof or computer monitor to detect and correct production-errors of text or art.  Proofreaders are expected to be consistently accurate by default because they occupy the last stage of typographic production before publication.
So the first stage of professional editing is to look at the content of your story to make sure everything works – characters, plot, dialogue, consistency, climax and conclusion.  They check to make sure it all comes together as it should.
The copy editor looks at your text.  They check for spelling, grammar, sentences that run together and are way too wordy and need some sort of breathing space and some sort of grammar and anything that helps the reader have a place to pause and take a breath before they stop breathing and go all blue in the face like a smurf...  you get the point.
A proofreader is the last stop.  They check everything – and I mean everything!  Formatting, speling, missingspaces, too   m any spaces, page numbers, apostrophe's and more apostrophes – thank you Mr-I'm-Way-Too-Bossy-All-The-Time!  (Hubby – not you!)  [Ed: she's been getting pretty good at all of this the more she writes, but apostrophes are her one remaining weakness.  I shall train her yet...]
It might be better to get more than one person to edit your work, as often a professional editor will be great at either content editing or fantastic at copy and proofreading.
I have linked to a few editors in our 'Links' page, so please go and check them out if you need a hand finding someone.
If you google 'Tips to editing your novel', you will get a million other authors and editors giving their advice on the how-to of editing your book.  Most of it is the same and it is all great advice.  Please read and re-read this advice before editing your own work.  You will save yourself time and money in the end.  It is also a great way to up-skill as a writer.
Self-editing is important to learn and carry out on your own manuscript.  Paying for a professional editor is what is going to take your book from being another self-published story to being a fantastic book that stands apart from the rest.  So, who are you going to call?
Have fun editing!
~ Joy

PS: We have a list of NZ editors on this site under our LINKS tab above, or you could go to our post here:


  1. So what would be the best way of finding a competent, reputable editor?
    essay writing

    1. Hi Scott, thanks for your question. If you are living in NZ one of the best places to find help is on the New Zealand Society of Authors website. You can find their link under 'Editors' under our links page. Let me know how that goes for you. And so sorry about the late reply!