Editing. Possibly one of the most loathed words in a writer’s vocabulary. It’s a necessary evil, but with the right tools and some help from people who understand what you’re doing you won’t need to put it under getting a root canal on your to-do list.
The first thing you need to do is to evaluate your budget. That may seem like an odd thing to suggest, but I have a good reason. If you can afford to pay a professional to help you in the editing process, then do it. They get paid because they know what they’re doing.
Once you’ve checked your budget and know what you can afford, decide who you need to hire. I recommend reading Joel Friedlander‘s post What Every Self-Publisher Ought to Know About Editing before actually hiring anyone because each part of the editing process calls for a different skill set. You want to hire the right person for the right job.
Once you know who you need it’s a matter of searching for the individual who can do the job within your budget limitations. Start with your POD or print house. They often have editing packages that easily fit into smaller budgets. If you don’t find what you need there, then ask around. Most self-published/Independent Authors will be happy to make referrals. It’s in our best interest to help other self-publishers/Independent Authors find people who will do a great job editing. I also highly recommend checking with Reedsy. These professionals have been fully vetted before becoming a part of this organization.
Perhaps you’ve looked at your finances and found you have a big fat ZERO in your budget for editing expenses. Let me just say, not having a budget for editing expenses does not excuse you from the process.
If you absolutely cannot afford to pay someone to edit your work, then you must be even more vigilant when you do your own first edits and re-writes. Invest in some good style and grammar books (you may find them in your local library or, better yet, second-hand on Amazon.com). I like Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing and the most recent edition of the AP Stylebook. You can also find a lot of free editing information on the internet just by doing a quick search. Just remember that searching for an answer can be time-consuming (especially if you tend to get side-tracked) and sometimes confusing.
No matter how many times you read through your own work, though, you will miss things. Investing in some editing software like SmartEdit or Pro Writing Aid Editing Tool* (or both!) will make the process much simpler. I’ve done a review on several free and paid editing software programs on my post Paid and Free Editing Software For Manuscripts, so go check that out to see what’s available.
Once you’ve done plenty of editing on your own, it’s time to submit your work to a writers’ group like Critters or Absolute Write. Be sure you choose the right forum when you submit your work or you’ll be in for some nasty returns. Keli Gwyn of Romance Writers on the Journey: Resources for romance writers en route to publication suggests in her post “How to Find Critique Partners” that writers find a critique partner in their particular genre. There are also beta reader groups on Facebook.
Another good idea is to let plenty of people read your work before sending it to your POD or print house. I particularly like getting the insights of my non-writer friends since they make up the largest part of my readership. Beta readers and critique groups may not take the place of a single professional editor, but they go a long way in making your work the best it can be.
Whether you have money to burn or a wallet full of moths, there is no excuse for skipping the rigors of good editing.
How do you approach editing?
*While I am a Pro Writing Aid affiliate and these are affiliate links, this in no way changes how I feel about the software. I personally used both SmartEdit, which I am not affiliated with, and Pro Writing Aid Editing Tool prior to becoming an affiliate and will continue to use both in the future. I fully endorse all the programs on this post because I believe in their merit as writing tools for better writing. There is no extra cost to you if you choose to purchase these tools.