Should I Self-Edit My Manuscript?
Let’s get right into it. Should you self-edit your manuscript? In short, the answer is, no, simply because everyone needs an editor. Eyes that are connected to a brain that already has experienced the story will miss errors because it already knows what to expect; therefore, it does not require accurate sentence structure and readability nor proper grammar and punctuation. Even editors need editors, and it is a lot harder to catch your own errors compared to a new set of eyes.
Now that I have crushed your dreams with my short answer, I want to dive deeper where there is hope! Yes, it is wise to have a professional editor take a look at your work at least once or twice. A good author knows that hiring an editor does not indicate incapability, contrarily it indicates that the author is aware that an editor will increase the quality of their work. And there is actually some good news, you do not have to fully outsource for editing; you can be a part of your editing team. I bet you feel relieved!
Did you know there are typically more than 3 phases of editing that will occur before your book hits the shelves in traditional publishing? Yes, more than 3, and to be honest I believe the average is 5, and that will not include the edits that will take place before it gets to the publisher. Don’t fret, these are all necessary and not nearly as intimidating as it sounds. But before I dive further into that, I want to touch on when it is okay to self-edit.
It is okay to self-edit at all times as long as you do not plan on being a one-person editing team. The stages of editing that you can participate in will be based upon your road to publication. If you are going for traditional publishing, I suggest you perform an in-depth edit yourself because once you are picked up by a publisher, they have their own team performing edits, and it is not a guarantee that your story will remain the same thereafter. On the contrary, when you plan to self-publish you have complete control over everything. From the stages of editing to the book marketing strategy, it’s all you. So, you can decide what stage of the editing process you would like to perform (i.e. developmental edit, line edit, etc.).
When it comes to hiring an editor, expect a quality edit to come with a pretty price tag. Which is why I encourage authors to be a part of their own editing team. Sometimes self-publishers want to skip out on hiring an editor to cut expenses, which is understandable; however, do not let the motive of cutting expenses take priority over the quality of your book. Join in on the fun as an alternative to cutting editing expenses.
Hiring an editor is beneficial because it will give back time to work on other tasks you have to complete before your book launch. Like marketing for instance. If you are an indie author, marketing and creating your brand should be 2 of your top 5 priorities. Reason being, if you are not known then what audience will you be selling to besides your friends and family? Gaining a following is crucial to the indie author, but that’s a whole other monster to unwrap, let’s get back to self-editing.
I know, I know, hiring an editor is stressful especially once you see the quote. Nonetheless the perception of winning because you have saved money is very misleading. Look at it this way, if you become a best seller, you will earn back over 10x the amount you will pay for editing through book sales. Editing your book is more than just checking for errors, it is an investment; it is your brand. You don’t want to be known as the author who makes a lot of errors in their writing do you? Of course not, so let get on the track to creating an editing plan. I’ll tell you how.
4 Tips on Creating an editing plan
1. Determine what type of editing services you need
If you are an indie author, you may want to go with the entire menu. From beta reading all the way through to proofreading. This will ensure that you will have little to no errors by the end of your editing process.
As for those who would like to be traditionally published, the whole enchilada is not necessary, a good developmental edit or moderate copyedit would suffice. Though, if you are looking to save money, I would suggest a copyedit. Copyediting will cover readability and flag all inconsistencies within your manuscript.
2. Determine who is assigned to each stage of editing
This immediately follows the first step. As stated before, it is okay to take part in your editing. Many authors would like to just hand over their work and focus on other aspects of the book launch while others would like to take part in the editing process. Nonetheless, there are many stages through the process that you can either take on yourself or give to the editor. Do more research on all stages of manuscript editing to give yourself an idea of what to expect.
Deciding the edits that you will perform and the edits you plan to send to the editor will help you to gage the amount of money you spend towards your editing investment.
3. Create a budget
Whether you are an indie author or a future traditionally published author, create a budget for yourself. Especially for your editing. Creating a budget for your editing specifically will help you to know what stages of editing you will and will not pay. It can be really disappointing to expect to pay a certain amount for a full developmental and copyedit, and then come to realize that your price expectation is below the average cost. So, prepare for what you are willing to pay. Research average costs of book editing. This will help you to prepare for what price to expect.
4. Choose your editor
After you have looked through all of your quotes and took the time to discuss a plan of action with your potential hirers, choose your editor. I would say it is best to choose them based on their niche, your budget, time frame, and your overall liking for them. Believe it or not, some people do not get along with their editors. I am not sure if it is due to lack of openness on either side, or if the author had no idea of what they were getting themselves into, but make sure you both are on the same page.
Should you self-edit your book? No, not by yourself. Can you help with the editing process? Absolutely! Go out there and be great, and do not hesitate of researching anything you have questions on. It is better to be prepare than unprepared.