Friday, March 9, 2012

Reasons You Need to Hire an Editor…Even if you are Thinking of Self Publishing

Here's an article by Wendy VanHatten of VanHatten Writing Services ( that you might find helpful:

1. But it’s mine…

Have you ever said one of these?

• This is my manuscript.
• My manuscript represents months of work.
• That's my hard work you would be looking at.
• I feel like I've given birth.
• No editor can possibly understand how it feels.

First of all, your editor is not your high school English teacher and is not there to rap your knuckles or give you a “D” for forgetting some obscure rule. Editors are professionals who are accustomed to interacting with authors in a mutually respectful relationship. Editors have to make a living, and they would quickly find themselves unable to if they went out of their way to hurt authors' feelings or insult them.

Throughout history, authors have relied on their editors to be their sounding boards, to represent the eye and ear of the reader, and to bring a viewpoint that can't arise spontaneously in the author's head. Nothing has changed because words are written electronically.

More important, you and your editor are a team. Your goal is to produce the best book or eBook you can, so it will be embraced by your target audience. The editor is there to help you, not to argue with you about the way you write.

2. I Can Edit it Myself…

No, you really cannot.

If you want to publish a work you can be proud of, you are going to have to engage people who have experience producing books. One of those people is an editor. I know you want to spend as little as you can on outside editing. But in the long run…and if you want a professional finished product…hire an editor.

3. My Manuscript is Perfect…

Maybe it is or maybe it is just that close to being perfect. You should definitely make it as good as you can before you send it to an editor.

Having said that…we are human and we all will make errors somewhere in our manuscript. No one is perfect, and no manuscript longer than a few pages is likely to be perfect. Our brains are designed to do many wonderful things, but generating error-free prose is not one of them.

Here's something you might not realize. Editors aren't perfect either.

There is a commercial standard for editing quality and that standard is somewhere around ninety percent. If an editor catches ninety percent of the errors in a manuscript, then the editor has done as good a job as the publisher has any right to expect. Many editors exceed this standard, however.
What does this mean to you as an author? It means that if you submit a manuscript with a hundred errors, the editor should catch ninety of them. Then the proofreader who later checks the typeset pages should find nine of the remaining ten, leaving you with a book that has a single error in it. That's not bad.

If your manuscript begins with a thousand errors (not unusual), the same arithmetic generates a finished book with ten errors. This is fairly common.

What can you do? Anything you can do to produce a clean manuscript is going to help get you as close to an error-free book as possible.

4. I Cannot Afford an Editor…

Hmmm…can you afford to produce a book full of errors?

Some things to think about…

• If you really don't have the cash, then you should probably be sending queries to literary agents rather than trying to publish the book yourself. If a mainstream publisher picks up your book, they'll pay the editor. But if you are determined to self-publish and you decide to do it without an editor, you may come to regret that choice.

• Self-publishing is a business, it’s the publishing business. If you hope to succeed in it, you have to manage it like a business. You have to look at your skill set and decide which of the many tasks associated with publishing you are suited to doing yourself and which can be done more effectively and more economically by others. Your time has value, and you have to decide how it is best spent.

• If you love to write…then write. Don’t edit.

• Editors check documents for a living. They can do it faster, better, and more cost-effectively than you can possibly do it yourself. Employing an editor, a designer, a compositor, a proofreader, an indexer, or any of the other specialized book production people is money well spent when self-publishing. That's because you can use the time you save to sell more books and increase your revenue.

• Focus on your marketing, optimize your website, or get started on the next book. When you count in the time you save and what you can do with that time, using an editor just makes sense.

5. But it’s Just an eBook…

If you tell yourself you can always fix the mistakes later, you’re right.

But every time you upload a new version of the book, it takes time and in many cases costs money. In the meantime, you have buyers who caught those errors, went on to write negative reviews, and now want their refunds. Plus, they are not doing anything for your reputation as a writer.

An eBook is a book. You owe your reader the same degree of respect as any author ever owed any reader, regardless of whether it is a paperback, hard cover, or eBook.

Good editors are a valuable member of your writing team. They won’t try to rewrite your manuscript, change your voice, or introduce content you do not want. But a good editor should ask you questions about your manuscript.

Have a manuscript written? Hire an editor before you get to the publishing stage. You’ll thank yourself!

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