Maybe you’ve got an army of beta readers. Maybe you have an English degree and have committed every self-editing book available on your Kindle lending library to memory. In either case, you do your own editing, haven’t spent a dime on your self-publishing venture so far and are damn proud of it thankyouverymuch. Disclaimer: if this is you, stop! Stop reading this very moment, or you will hate me. I am not responsible for the death of your warm, fuzzy feelings about me if you read one more word of this blog. Seriously.
Ok, if you’re still with me, maybe you too fall into the “editors are worth every penny you spend on them” camp. I am aware there is another camp, the “I couldn’t afford an editor if I gave up electricity and lived off ramen noodles for a year” camp. I would devote an entire blog to getting by without an editor if I had a strategy for doing that. I don’t. If I could not afford an editor prior to publication, I would totally hire one the minute I earned enough to do so!
If I was publishing traditionally, there would be an army of editors hacking away at my manuscript. I am not advocating assembling an army because, well, who has the money for more than one or two mercenaries these days? But I do believe we indie authors will benefit just as much from an editor–an unbiased third party who does this editing stuff for a living–as our traditionally published counterparts.
Allow me to share three awesome examples of how my editor, Michelle Josette, earns her keep. Note: the snark is all me. Michelle is super sweet and constructive in her feedback.
In the edit of my first 55 pages, her copy edit revealed to me:
- Sh*t that just doesn’t make sense. These things slow down the plot. If a reader is wondering ‘why the hell did she just use the emergency exit when there was a perfectly good door to use that wouldn’t set off the alarm?’ he or she is not thinking ‘holy sh*t, that vampire is seriously going to eff her up.’
- Characterization flaws. The most useful comment Michelle made in the course of her edit was ‘Ouch! I’m surprised she’s so apathetic here. Is this typical of her character?’ Um, no. And despite a bajillion self-edits, umpteen-million revisions and three beta reads, no one ever noticed that line made my protagonist sound like a heartless b*tch until now. Good catch!
- Faults in logic. The second most useful comment was ‘He can read her mind, can’t he? Wouldn’t he know she was going to go for the gun?’ Damnit. He totally should have known that. Gonna need to revise that scene a little.
There are rules my story–any story–needs to follow. Dude’s a mind reader, or he’s or not. Actions make sense, or they don’t. My protagonist is a heartless b*tch, or she’s not. Not only will a good editor tell you when you break the rules of the grammar gods, but also when you break your own. And that is the kind of rule breaking that readers will never forgive.