by J.U. Scribe
Free editing anyone?
That was the question I found myself asking when it came down to editing my own story, Before the Legend which I’m merely weeks away from publishing. This post is long overdue, mainly due to my very busy schedule, but I have editing and life to thank for that.
Things are coming along nicely with the novelette and are slowly falling into place. Yet there are still many choices one has to make, and it’s critical that one makes the right choice to ensure the best possible outcome for their book. Before I share my updates on where I’m at with the story, I would like to discuss one of the most important steps other writers including myself have to make.
Task of Editing
This has to be one of the most important steps any writer whose serious about publishing must take. What’s involved with editing? A lot! In my journey of self-publishing, I quickly realized editing is more than just editing the mechanics of your writing such as grammar, spelling, and punctuation. That’s not to say those things aren’t important because they are very important. A book riddled with spelling mistakes or poor grammar could distract the reader from the actual content of the story because they’re focused on glaring errors.
However when you edit you have to take into account the overall plot of the story as well as the structure or framework the story hangs on. Is the plot consistent throughout the work? Are certain actions taken by the characters plausible (if this is a fantasy novel you can likely get away with it)? Does the dialogue flow and match the characters? Are there any plot holes? Is the story paced appropriately? Are the tenses and POV consistent?
This is only half of what’s involved with editing. When you consider the list of things you must take into account when editing their work you quickly realize that spellchecker on your Word document won’t be sufficient! All writers are responsible for editing their works including those going through a traditional publisher. But for those that self-publish, editing is especially important because you’re the one primarily responsible for the final product: the book.
For a self-publisher, which people tend to be more critical about, you don’t want to close any doors before you get a fighting chance. This makes the task alone very daunting at times. Yet, you don’t have to go alone. You can ask for outside help. However how much are you willing to pay?
The Price of Editing
Professional editors are a great service to utilize when getting your story ready to publish. There are different types of editors who focus on different aspects of your writing when editing. In a guest post on Catherine Caffeinated ‘s blog, she explains what a copy-editor does as well as mentions other types of editing. However editing does come at a price. It’s important to remember that most editors charge in these two main ways.
- They charge you a flat rate based on your word count (e.g.. $250 for 10,000 words or less)
- They charge per word in the document ( e.g.. 5 cents a word)
The 2nd option may seem more alluring but if you’re writing a 100,000 word novel, the price tag may not seem so attractive after all.
If you’re a cheap skate like myself, you probably feel apprehensive about dropping hundreds if not thousands of dollars on editing your manuscript. For some it may simply be out of your price range. However you can still find those that are willing to edit your works for a more affordable cost or even free. Where on earth can you find those who would make time to edit for work for free?
- Writing communities and groups. Within certain groups or clubs you can find amateur or freelance editors and beta-readers to read your work. You’ll want to know how much experience they have editing other people’s work as well as what types of works they would be interested in reading and editing.
- Other connections. This could be an old English teacher, a blogger who offers editing services or sites such as Thumbtack that match you to qualified editors and from there you can choose which quote is reasonable to you.
For me I found an editor on Wattpad and a beta reader on Fictionpress. Both were very helpful in the editing process and brought out areas in my work that needed improvement that I otherwise would have overlooked. When it comes to our works we tend to be biased or unaware of the smaller technical details of writing.
Editors are great because they approach the work from a fresh unbiased perspective and can therefore be an objective pair of lenses. After all they are trained or experienced in finding the little details that make a big difference in the end. However it’s still important to choose a good editor. As a disclaimer although you want a cheap or free editor you don’t want cheap quality editing! That’s why I ended up paying a professional in the end.
Another alternative are online tools. This includes open source software that writer’s can plug their text in. The software or plugin will then analyze the text for grammar issues, repetitive phrasing, awkward sentence structuring amongst several other things. One in particular I discovered was Pro Writing Aid. It’s a powerful tool for editing and can check for
- Clichés and redundancies
- Grammar mistakes
- Passive voice
- Sentence variety
- And more…
I highly recommend it because it’s a great start for those who feel ambitious enough to self-edit. Another good tool is Grammarly. This one as the title suggests focuses more on grammar as opposed to Pro Writing Aid which is more well-rounded but it does provide explanations and suggestions for edits when you copy and paste your text. Another cool feature about it is that you can download it as a plug-in for Microsoft Word.
These are great tools however one must be ready to subscribe to maximize the fullest capabilities of these tools. Are they a substitute for a professional editor? That’s a question I’ll leave you to decide. In conclusion, there is a price for editing but you’ll pay a huge price for not editing so take it seriously.