Editing is often the most painful part of the alchemic process that transforms a manuscript into a book. But we don’t edit because it’s hard — self-punishment without purpose is not the name of our game. We edit because our first drafts are not our best drafts.
We may edit ourselves because we sense the inevitability of our own mistakes — one or two slips of the fingers on the keyboard as we toil away — but we must look for others to edit our work, too, because we’re not always the most objective observers about our own work. We look for a third-party editor because, when you or I have spent six months or a year staring at the pixels on our computer screens, it becomes difficult to pick out the plot hole on page 60 or the typing error on page 115.
Editors aren’t a luxury we indulge in; they’re a necessity. Guy Kawasaki, a self-publishing author and entrepreneur of Stanford and U.C. Davis extraction, writes that all successful self-publishing authors “learn that the key to a great book is editing — grinding, buffing, and polishing — not writing.” He’s not just referring to a book’s inherent strengths and weaknesses — its objective existence as a great book or a not-great book — but about perception and reception. As a business founder and entrepreneur, Kawasaki recognizes the value in being taken seriously, and the business and social capital an author can and must create by doing so in order to move books off of virtual or physical store shelves and into people’s hands. Editing, he postulates, is the way to make this happen.
Perception, we’re often told, is reality. And while there might be some exceptions, it’s a general rule that readers are turned off by poor cover design, poor formatting, and poor editing. These factors and others collectively create the reader’s perception of a book’s professionalism, polish, and ultimately its value. Thus, a poorly edited book is likely to lose readers, while a well-edited book is likely to draw more potential readers by virtue of its good reputation.
The long and the short of it is:
- Editing is important, both in terms of fixing small-scale issues and resolving large-scale difficulties, to selling books
- We cannot objectively edit our own work, and those in our immediate social circle often don’t have the experience or expertise to step in and fill the void
- Therefore, paying for professional editing services may be necessary, and it doesn’t have to break the bank or encroach on your independence
As you set off to determine whether or not hiring a professional editor is something you need to do, take your time. There are plenty of options out there, and because the market for true and deep copyediting has diversified in recent years, the costs are much lower than they used to be. The key is to do your due diligence in terms of research, and to trust your instincts when you get in touch with your potential editor.
Questions about Professional Copyediting or any of our self-publishing services? Contact an Outskirts Press Publishing Consultant. There are three convenient ways to connect:
- Call us at 1-888-672-6657 (OP-BOOKS)
- Live-chat with us via our website
- Go online to schedule an appointment