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After 20 Novels, What Does Your Editing Process Look Like?

| Posted in Editing, Writing |

27

When I write about my self-publishing journey here, I usually stick more to publishing strategies and marketing topics, but a couple of people have asked me editing questions lately. As I close in on twenty novels (between my name and the new pen name, I should hit that number this Christmas, for my four-year self-publishing anniversary) and almost as many short stories and novellas, I guess it’s fair to say that I’ve developed a system.

My first novel (the first novel that I finished anyway), The Emperor’s Edge, took about seven years from conception to publication (and that didn’t even include looking for an agent/publisher, since I went straight to self-publishing!). Granted, there were years where I didn’t touch it at all in there, but I was definitely finding my way as a writer. I ran it through the SFF Online Writing Workshop twice, several years apart, before “getting serious” and deciding I not only wanted to be a writer, but I wanted it to be the full-time job (yes, quite ambitious for someone who had yet to publish anything). My second novel, Encrypted, also went through the workshop. I wrote that one a little more quickly and had it polished and ready to go in just under a year.

These days, it usually takes me a month to write a first draft (though I’ve done it in as little as two weeks) for a standard-length novel (80-100K). The beastly 220K+ word Republic took two months.

My first round of edits might take about a week for something that involves fact-checking and doing some research (I don’t usually spend a lot of time on either when I’m writing the first draft, because I don’t like to break the flow) or only three days for a simple story that’s set in a made-up world and doesn’t involve much of that.

After I’ve gone over the manuscript once, I send it off to beta readers, who will point out everything from typos to logic errors to confusing action sequences. I’ll usually start working on something else while I’m waiting for them to send the manuscript back. Once it returns, I’ll address their comments again and then either go over the whole story one more time (depending on the degree of the changes I made) or just go over the particular scenes where I made significant changes.

After that, the manuscript is off to my editor, Shelley Holloway, who will check for grammar issues, typos, and anything else confusing that my beta readers might not have pointed out. Again, I’m usually working on something else while she has my manuscript — gotta keep things going if you want to do this full time!

When Shelley is done, she’ll send the manuscript back, and I’ll run through and accept/reject changes and fix any issues she pointed out. We’ll usually go back and forth a couple of times before it’s ready to be turned into an ebook. Once Shelley gets started, it’s usually only about a week or maybe a week and a few days for us to do all of this (she’s doing the heavy lifting at this point). She has numerous clients, though, so I’ll have to book her in advance (sometimes hard when you write quickly) or just accept that there will be a bit of a wait before she can get started. (Again, this is why I always have something else ready to start on.)

The whole process, from Word 1 to finished novel, usually takes a couple of months now, with the slowing-down points being the times when the manuscript is off with beta readers or with my editor (or when I haven’t gotten an order for cover art in early enough, so I’m waiting on that). With one novel (Balanced on the Blade’s Edge), I wrote, edited, and published it in 30 days, but that was more of a bucket-list thing than the norm. Even if I can work that quickly, other people (beta readers, editors, cover artists) have lives (and other clients).

So, there’s an overview, but here are the answers to some more writing/editing-specific questions I’ve received:

A book in a month? A rough draft in two weeks? Don’t you think the quality of the writing suffers if you’re going that fast?

When I first heard about people writing 10,000 words (or more) a day, I thought the same thing, but I also realized that when I was writing my usual 2- to 3,000 words a day (1,000 before this became the day job) that it honestly didn’t take me that long to get those words down and that a big chunk of my day was spent screwing around online or around the house. I knew I could accomplish more and I actually started to feel a little guilty about not getting more done.

So I started to use timers to make myself stay off the internet for chunks of time and to do nothing but write during those slots (I’ve heard of other authors having a dedicated writing computer that isn’t connected to the internet). I realized that if I had everything outlined ahead of time, I too, could have 10,000-word days. That isn’t the norm necessarily, but now I feel pretty lazy if I’m working on a new draft and don’t get at least 5,000 down.

All of this equates to finishing rough drafts in less than a month. Is there any difference in my writing if I type 2,000 words a day versus typing 10,000 words a day? Not at all. It’s simply a matter of spending less of my day goofing off. If anything, I’ve learned that my first drafts tend to be more cohesive and need less editing when I finish them in a few weeks. Writing quickly lets me stay “in the flow” of the story. It’s closer to the way you would actually tell a story, if you were sharing it with a friend, closer to real time, if you will.

Back when it took me much longer, I would spend a lot of time rereading scenes and trying to remember what happened in the opening chapters. This way, the entire story is solid in my head the whole time I’m writing, and there are less gaffs to fix later.

You don’t seem to spend much time on the editing process. I usually have to rewrite X number of times. What’s the secret?

I did some major rewriting of the endings for both The Emperor’s Edge and Encrypted. Hating the original ending is one of the reasons EE took so long to finish (I abandoned it for a few years because I didn’t like the ending and wasn’t sure how to fix it.)

The secret… outlining. I was more of a pantser (writing by the seat of my pants) early on, and I often wrote my characters into situations that I didn’t know how to get them out of. I would get stuck and sometimes lose interest and end up abandoning the manuscript altogether.

I don’t do extensive outlines now, but I always summarize the basic story (a small paragraph per chapter) before I start writing. I’ll often deviate from that outline, but I always know how the story will end, and that lets me more easily find a way to that point.

In the morning, I’ll also do more detailed outlines of scenes I’m going to work on that day, especially if I’m trying to hit 10k words. Those might include some snatches of dialogue, things that wouldn’t tend to be in my overall outline.

Having that roadmap in place let’s me get the story down more quickly when it’s time to write. I already know what’s happening next, so I’m not staring at the screen and trying to figure things out.

Since, before even getting started, I’ve already found my way around potential pitfalls, I don’t usually run into a problem where I have to do a major rewrite when I’m editing. I’m usually tightening up sentences and fixing little issues, but not cutting chapters or changing an ending. (Early on, I was much more likely to have to cut scenes, but I find that rare now.)

I’ll also add here that I’m sure a lot of improvements in efficiency are just a matter of having written numerous novels. I remember how I used to dwell on every sentence when I was sharing chapters on that workshop. Maybe I should use a better verb here. Could this be cut? Is this too much of a run-on sentence? Eventually you internalize the rules and don’t think at all about sentence construction; you’re just telling the story and not letting the words get in the way. I think you tend to second-guess yourself less on the story itself too.

I’ve been told you should put a rough draft away for a while before jumping into editing, but you start right in? Do you think you lose any perspective that way?

I’ve heard that, too, and I used to do it, but I’ve found that when I take a big break (maybe because I got caught up in a new project) that I have a little trouble getting back into the manuscript. I won’t have the story as solidly in my head anymore. Also, because I write a first draft straight through without editing, I’ll often have some things in mind that I know I need to go back and address. I want to get to those before I forget about them.

That said, there’s inevitably a break between my first and second round of edits, since that’s when the beta readers have the manuscript.

When you’re writing your first draft, do you edit as you go?

Almost never. For me, writing the first draft is about getting the story down and that’s it. A rare exception is if I thought of something I wanted to add to the scene I was working on the day before. If so, I might back up to the top of the page and work that in before getting started. But I never go back and tinker majorly with previously written scenes.

I usually suggest that other people don’t either, even new writers. Especially new writers. After you’ve finished the story, you may find that you end up cutting a scene or rewriting your opening chapter, in which case you were just wasting time if you tinkered with it a lot early on. New writers, in particular, tend to find that they started the story a chapter (or maybe chapters) earlier than they needed to, and that their “inciting incident” needs to be moved forward a lot to hook the reader.

Do you have a revisions checklist or do you just wing it? (submitted by )

No checklist. I just read through from start to finish and fix what needs fixing.

I will sometimes have a couple of notes to keep in mind as I go through the manuscript. For example, in Rust & Relics 1, I established that Simon, one of the main characters, has trouble speaking to one of the other characters (because she’s a hottie and he’s in luuuurve). I have a note here, reminding myself to add a few more instances of him fumbling his sentences, because that’s something I forgot about a little as I was writing the first draft of Book 2.

How do you detach yourself from the story to edit, especially considering you usually go into the novels right after finishing it? (submitted by )

How do I step back and look objectively at it? This may just be a personality thing, but I’m rarely so close to a story that I think it’s awesome and fail to see flaws — I feel like I can be fairly analytical from the get-go. I’m also a super picky reader myself (I’m one of those people who got into writing in part because I struggled to find stories that I enjoyed reading), so I’m sensitive to whether a scene is dragging, characters are flat, or there’s not enough conflict to keep things interesting.

Does that mean everyone is going to love my stories, and that they’re perfect? Of course not. Sometimes I recognize flaws that I’m not sure how to fix; sometimes flaws get past me. I just hope the stories are good enough to entertain. (I’m still surprised and delighted when I get fan mail from people who really enjoy the books.)

If you start thinking of your novel as the creation of some sublime piece of art that’s supposed to wow critics and become a part of the Zeitgeist, then you’re probably setting yourself up for a frustrating experience, one in which you revise and revise and maybe never finish. You’ve probably heard the saying, “Perfect is the enemy of good” or “Perfect is the enemy of done.” Definitely true with writing novels.

Any tips for story stuff (versus grammar)? (submitted by )

There are lots of books on writing that cover story construction, and those authors are much better teachers than I am, so I don’t know that I have a lot to say here, except that when I’m writing/editing, I try to…

  • Give the characters quirks that make them seem like real people
  • Give the characters compelling problems that they have to overcome
  • Advance the story (have the protagonists working toward resolving conflict) with each scene
  • Up the stakes (make life more difficult for the heroes) whenever possible
  • Add some interesting/unique elements to the world to make it fun to explore
  • Leave out the “boring” parts, insomuch as you can recognize them (if you start skimming while you’re re-reading that’s a sure sign that there’s not enough conflict going on in the scene to keep the story compelling)
  • Work setting tidbits in unobtrusively, i.e. into the action or even dialogue
  • Make sure most of the conflict ties into the overall plot and isn’t just there Oregon-Trail style to perk up a slow scene (Mary has dysentery! Oh, but she recovers, and it turns out it didn’t matter at all.)

What software do you use for writing and editing?

I write in Scrivener. I’m sure I don’t use 90% of the features, but I love that all of my chapters and scenes are labeled and on display over in the menu, so it’s easy to jump around in the story if I need to. I wrote my first two novels in Word, with everything in one big file, and I can’t even imagine doing that now. Ick.

That said, editors and beta readers usually have Word, so I’ll compile the Scrivener document into a Word file before sending it out to people and usually do my final edits in that program.

How many words do you write an hour? What’s the most you’ve written in a day?

It will vary, depending on what I’m working on. Straight-up action scenes tend to come out most quickly for me. With scenes that are heavy on character interaction and dialogue, that will take longer. Dialogue is my favorite thing to write, and I’m more likely to pause and think about how I want a character to say something there. But when I’m plugging along and know what happens next, 2,000 words an hour is fairly common.

An hour is about the maximum that I’ll sit in the chair without a break. When I’m finding it hard to get going, I’ll set a timer and do 30-minute spurts.

I recently set a new words-in-a-day record, though I don’t know if I should count it since it was on a new novella for the pen name project and I haven’t been back to it since that initial burst, but I hit 13,000 words. (And no, I can’t imagine doing the entire 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo in a day).

I wish I could sit and write for hours, but I have carpel tunnel syndrome, repetitive stress injuries, or X other health issue that makes it hard…

Been there, done that. I was a wreck at 25 and had so many things wrong with me I was wondering if I would live to see 30. Even the computer stuff was hard because my hands hurt so much. Most of The Emperor’s Edge was written with voice recognition software.

More than ten years later… I rarely get sick and not much bothers me. I’ve done 10,000 words while sitting on the couch with my laptop. Ergonomics? Not a bad idea, but I don’t usually bother. Treadmill desk? Are you kidding me? (I do get exercise via hiking and playing tennis, but you won’t catch me doing many things that aren’t a fun break from writing.)

For me, Step 1 was identifying food allergies (gluten and dairy). Step 2 was cutting way back on sugar and things that metabolize into sugar in the body (carbs, essentially). Step 3 was realizing the low-fat diet advice was oh-so-flawed and adding healthy fats into my diet.

Recommended reading: Grain Brain, Why We Get Fat, The Big Fat Surprise.

I can’t promise that the right dietary change will fix all of everyone’s ailments, but it has made an amazing difference for me.

All right, this post has gone on and on, and wandered off topic more than once. There’s a novel waiting to be edited, so I’ll stop here. Any questions? Comments? Please leave a note below!

Common Mistakes Writers Make by Editor Claudette Cruz

| Posted in Editing, Guest Posts |

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As always, I’m busy writing (two or three more chapters to go to finish the draft of EE6!), and I’ve been neglecting the blog a little bit. Next week, look for a new book giveaway contest with a chance to put some words into our heroes’ mouths. In the meantime, please enjoy this guest post from editor Claudette Cruz. She has some helpful advice for writers, new and old (I suspect my now infamous “the breast’s maw” typo is covered in there somewhere…).

Common Mistakes Writers Make

Hello, dear readers! My name’s Claudette Cruz, and I’m an independent editor and an avid reader. Today I’d like to mention a few of the more common mistakes I often come across in my line of work. I know there are many indie authors out there who are forced to go through the self-publishing route as traditional publishing houses become more and more selective. I hope my article helps you catch those small, common mistakes that translate to bad reviews and cranky, unsatisfied readers. This, in turn, will hopefully lead to better sales and reviews.

The first thing I have to mention is that you should get your book looked at by as many friends, family members, or beta readers as you possibly can. Try to have some of them focus more on the fluidity of the reading experience than on the content itself. Sure, all of them may concur that the story’s great, but are they overlooking the fact that your manuscript is riddled with grammatical errors? When asking them for their opinion, specifically ask these people to point out any errors they might come across.

If you can afford to do so, hire an editor next. They’re more experienced in catching tiny mistakes other people might miss, such as omitted letters or punctuation, misspellings, or words used out of context. Speaking of errors, I’ll now go into more detail regarding mistakes I’ve seen in every single manuscript I’ve worked on.

Omitted letters or words:

This is THE most common issue I deal with when editing or proofreading. You need a fresh pair of eyes to look at your manuscript. Many authors tell me it’s amazing how many missing words or letters I caught, considering they had gone through the manuscript a bazillion times. I believe that’s exactly the reason they can’t see the mistakes themselves—they’ve gone through the same text so many times, their brains just fill in the missing letters and words automatically. If you can’t afford to hire an editor, or have no friends or family who’ll go through your manuscript for you, set the document aside for a week or more, and then read it again after having given your brain a vacation from looking at the same chunk of text every day.

I want oyu to read an study this sentence carefuly. Then look it again. Now focus on the two sentences before this one. Maybe you were looking for mistakes in the first one and didn’t notice the second sentence was missing a word. Sure, I was trying to trick you, but keep in mind that a manuscript is way longer and probably far messier than this. You may have caught all the mistakes this time, but try doing it in a manuscript that’s over 60,000 words long. Most likely you’ll miss at least one thing, and while a single error isn’t bad at all, it’s far more likely that you’ll miss way more than one error. Readers run the gamut from picky to indifferent. Many won’t care if there’s a few editing blunders, but others will complain about too many mistakes and leave you bad reviews, scaring away potential new readers. If you want to increase your fan base, start by having a manuscript that’s as clean, neat, and error-free as possible.

Missing or incorrect punctuation:

I see this a lot, especially in manuscripts that are more dialogue-heavy. Sometimes you forget to add a quotation mark here or there, effectively confusing the heck out of your reader when a character replies to something the other just said. Other times, a missing comma can affect the fluidity of the whole sentence. Your reader has to stop and backtrack to try to make sense of what you just wrote. You don’t want that. You want your manuscript to read fluidly. A missing period can equally affect the reading experience. Also, remember that a single apostrophe can completely change the meaning of a word. “It’s” and “its” are used in different situations, and replacing one with the other is not advisable if you want your sentence to make any sense at all.

Words used out of context:

Similarly, editors will fix any instances in which you used a word out of context. Homophones, or words that sound the same but are spelled differently, are some writers’ bane. The writers will confuse “their” with “they’re,” “rain” with “reign” or “rein,” “whose” with “who’s,” and the list goes on. They’ll also fix up errors in which you happened to use an adjective instead of a noun, like in “I was paralyzed with frightful.” That doesn’t exactly make sense, does it? You meant to use “fright.” “The sheriff padded her down.” Huh? Didn’t you mean, “The sheriff patted her down”? “The article was trying.” That can have two completely different meanings. It might mean that the article tested your patience, in which case “trying” is used as an adjective, or that it was making an attempt or effort to do something, in which case “trying” is a verb. To be fair, that last example is a stretch, as “the article was trying” seems like it’s missing words to effectively place it in the context I meant, but hopefully you get my drift.

Repetition:

Okay, so your characters are particularly inquisitive and ask a lot of questions. That doesn’t mean that you have to use the word “asked” every single time you write that your character inquires about something. This is when a thesaurus comes in handy. If I notice a manuscript is overusing a particular word, I highlight the offending word throughout the document and provide my client with a list of acceptable replacements they should consider using now and then. They then have the option of replacing a few of the highlighted words with some of the ones I provided for them, thus dealing with the repetitiveness issue. You can easily do this yourself, though. Look up any word you find yourself using way too often. An online dictionary will usually provide synonyms as well as the definition of the word. Coincidentally, this also helps you tackle the issue of words used out of context. Look up “rein” and “reign” in a dictionary, and you’ll easily find out which word you meant to use.

There are a lot of other things editors can help you out with. They’ll make sure your manuscript is consistent, for one. They’ll make sure you spell the name “Lindsay” consistently, and not “Lindsey” by mistake. They’ll also help out if you want your manuscript to use British English instead of American English, and vice versa. If they have the specific skill, they can make sure that your Spanish-speaking character is saying things correctly in Spanish and not just uttering what a website offering free translations managed to cough out for you. They will deal with cumbersome run-on sentences and with sentences that seem disjointed.

I hope my article has been of use to you. Several of my clients have raved about seeing an increase in sales and good reviews after I worked on their manuscripts. I don’t believe that’s a coincidence. In my opinion, a neat, clean, error-free book is more likely to get better reviews and be recommended to other readers. Go ahead and put my advice to use. I wish you all many sales and worldwide fame. Thank you, Lindsay Buroker, for allowing me to contribute this guest post, and thanks to all of you guys for reading my article!

Bio:

Claudette Cruz is a pet lover, a crafting supplies hoarder, and a fan of all her clients. Fluent in English and Spanish, she’s been an independent editor since September of last year, when author Joseph Lallo helped launch her career by giving her a chance to prove herself. After posting on publishing forums based on author Jeff Gunzel’s advice, she got her first paying client, author M.K. Baxley, a total sweetheart who provided encouragement and her first referrals.

When she’s not working, Claudette is either making cards or enjoying long walks with her dogs. Every now and then she plays Zumba on her Wii U because she happens to have a chocolate addiction. Email her at claudettecruz@ymail.com for rates and to request a sample edit.

How Editing Works for Independent (Self-Published) Authors

| Posted in Editing |

50

In the year that I’ve been self-publishing, I’ve been fortunate enough to receive many nice reviews and compliments on my work. It still tickles me to hear that other people enjoy spending time with my characters as much as I do.

It’s always nice to hear, as well, that someone believed the editing was of good quality, because that’s one of the areas where it’s tough to match up with the traditional presses. Even when you have beta readers and hire a freelance editor, you still don’t have as many eyes going over a manuscript as you’d have with the traditional system.

My Early Experiences

As with many new authors (AKA folks who aren’t yet making anything from their writing), I was trying to save money with my first manuscript, The Empeor’s Edge. I hired someone offering to proofread inexpensively on a forum. He said he was an English teacher, so I figured that was good enough.

He ended up editing the heck out of the manuscript, and most of the suggestions were incorrect. I don’t mean that we had stylistic differences of opinion; I mean the guy didn’t know how to punctuate dialogue correctly. In the end, it was a big waste of time for both of us, and, no, he didn’t offer to refund the money, even though I pointed him to sources on the web for examples of proper punctuation.

Lesson learned for me.

I went on to hire another editor (an actual freelance editor with a website this time!), though I was still trying to keep my costs down, especially since I’d just wasted money, and went for a simple proofreading. Overall, the experience was good, but readers did point out quite a few typos or flubbed words that had slipped through. (I should qualify that, I suppose, because some indie books are riddled with errors — EE had maybe 20 in 105,000 words, which isn’t a ton, but it bothers me when that many things slip through.)

It’s funny (or sad?) that I actually went into that first book thinking, “Oh, it’ll be nearly flawless since I ran it through my writing workshop twice.” Right. Note to self: beta readers are, rightfully so, usually more concerned about story and characters than fixing your typos, and, even when they do point such things out, you tend to add in as many errors as you fix when making corrections.

These days, I’m fortunate to be making enough from my book sales that I don’t have to scrimp quite so much, and I can afford to pay for a couple of read-throughs with an editor who has many years of experience in the business. She has a good eye and catches a lot. (If only I could get her to follow me around and proofread my blog posts, Facebook messages, and Twitter tweets.)

You’re probably always going to have a few things slip through (hey, that even happens with books from traditional presses), but it’s good to know that those types of errors are few and far between.

Hiring an Editor and Associated Costs

So, if you’re first starting out, what should you look for?

First off, let’s talk about the different options you have as a writer hiring an editor. And, because you’re probably wondering, we’ll discuss costs, too, though these will vary a lot from editor to editor.

Developmental/Substantive Editing

You can find freelance editors who specialize in developmental editing. This is where they’re going to look at narrative flow, consistency, logic, story and character development, etc. In short, they may tear your manuscript to shreds and tell you to re-write entire chapters.

This is the most expensive form of editing, and you may very well get quotes in the $2,000-$4,000 range for a novel-length manuscript. If you write epic fantasy tomes that, if dropped, could kill a chihuahua, then you might get an even higher quote.

While developmental editing often includes copy-editing/proofreading, I personally think that this is too much to pay for most self-publishers. You’re putting yourself into a huge hole right from the beginning, and it can take a long time (if ever) for your first novel to earn out when you start with such high expenses.

I believe that free/inexpensive writing workshops can fill the same role (the nice thing about a workshop is that you get to experience the editing styles of multiple other writers, some of whom know those grammar rules forward and backward, and you can develop long-term, beta-reading relationships with the ones whose suggestions click with you).

You’ll learn a lot from the workshop process too. I’m sure some will disagree with me, but I don’t think you’re ready to self-publish if you’ve never had strangers shred your work before. Friends and relatives don’t count. Your fellow writers will be some of your toughest critics, so if you can get them to like it, then maybe you’re ready for the next stage, hiring an editor and pubishing that puppy.

Copy Editing

This is when an editor reads through, often twice, to look for typos, missing words, frequently used words (apparently my characters were “lunging” all over the place in EE3!), incorrect words, grammatical boo boos, and awkward sentences.

The editor won’t typically make comments about story or character, so you should be confident that you have things fairly well nailed down ahead of time. Of course, some editors may stray into developmental editing territory from time to time if they see the need. It’ll depend on the editor and what you ask for.

With copy-editing, expect your person to make changes in the text. MS Word is what most people in the biz use, but you can find Mac-friendly editors, too, who have Pages. With either program, you can choose to accept or reject the changes with a mouse click.

Note: if you’ve been writing for a while, and you’re very confident in your style and your characters’ voices, then you may find yourself rejecting a lot of the suggestions (I do this, much to my poor editor’s chagrin). It’s not at all uncommon for freelance editors to have more experience with non-fiction than fiction (this whole rah-rah-self-publishing boom is quite new!), so there can be a little friction when it comes to matters of style. Just remember that you’re the boss, and it’s okay to reject changes! Most editors will understand that you’re not necessarily going to agree with everything. Once you find an editor you like working with, you’ll both get more used to each others styles.

Copy editing costs are usually figured on a per-word or per-page basis, so get out your calculators. Typical costs might be in the neighborhood of one cent per word. So, if you need 100,000 words copy edited, that’ll be $1,000.

I’ve definitely seen editors who charge more, but that may be getting into the realm of too-pricy-for-a-self-publisher. You need to shop around to find an editor who does a good job for you and offers an affordable rate. Don’t be afraid to ask an editor to give you a break. It won’t always happen (it’ll probably depend on how busy they are), but many are sympathetic to indie authors. They know a lot of us are just trying to start our writing careers up and don’t have a lot of money to spend.

But be realistic in your requests too. If you know grammar isn’t your strength, and there are likely a lot of flubs in your manuscript, be aware of how many hours are going to be involved in editing it. You may be tickled if you find someone on Craigslist or a message board to copy-edit your 150,000-word novel for $200, but you may either a) get a poor result or b) end up paying someone the equivalent of two dollars an hour. Neither are cool.

Note: Because editing, even copy editing, is a big expense, you may want to look for editors who offer sample edits. This might be a few trial pages for $25 or some such, and that gives you an idea about the suggestions they’ll make. I highly recommend this, even over getting recommendations from other indie authors (unless you’ve read that author’s book and found their editing to be nearly flawless). Remember, others indies are often new to the game, too, and haven’t necessarily worked with enough editors to make useful comparisons.

(Editorial) Proofreading

This is your least invasive (or, as the case may be, least corrective) form of editing and typically involves checking for typos, missing words, punctuation issues, etc. You may only get one pass from an editor here.

Costs for a novel-length manuscript may be in the neighborhood of .0035 to .006 a word, so a fraction of a cent per word. It doesn’t sound like much, but even that adds up for something novel-length. You may want to go ahead and pay for copy-editing, so that you get a more thorough look from an editor.

Editing Software

If you absolutely can’t afford to hire an editor, editing software such as AutoCrit is an inexpensive option and can help you find some of the common mistakes in your manuscript. I haven’t tried it, but I’ve heard good things from those who have.

Personally, I’d put the pennies toward hiring a human being unless you want to use the software in conjunction with hiring an editor later. They do have a free trial.

* * *

Okay, readers, authors, and editors who might pop in, anything to add? I know I’ve seen a lot of variation on what exactly falls into each category of editing, so I imagine folks might have differing thoughts here.