Self-publishing and editing

DIY Publishing: Why You Shouldn’t Edit Your Book Yourself

So you’ve written a book and decided to go the indie route, self-publishing. Good, me too. It’s the future of literature, I think, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. Far from it.

You’ve got yourself a finished manuscript and don’t know what to do next. You’ve read and reread it a million times. You’ve self-edited it and found beta readers. What comes next next?

You hire an editor. A freelancer, but a real professional.

But do I really need one? I must’ve asked myself this question a million times. After seeing the price of a good one ($500 at least), I began to wonder if I could get by doing it all myself. Sure, I probably could get by. But is getting by good enough? Is that the treatment your book deserves?

After sitting on the fence for a couple weeks, I eventually decided to bite the bullet and find an outside editor for my book. I figured going all out makes the most sense for my debut, and that maybe I’ll scale things back that I deem redundant moving forward with my next.

A few days ago I got back my first round of edits from my guy (I went with an editing-proofread combo package from a freelancer) and was immediately blown away by the work.

He found things that I wouldn’t have found with another ten rounds of self edits. I couldn’t. After spending the last eleven months pouring over it, I’m much too close to the work.

I’ve spent the last month or so working one-on-one with my editor getting my manuscript in shape to publish later in the year, and couldn’t be happier with the end product. The more we work together on it, the more confident I become that my book will be indistinguishable from its traditionally published counterparts.

Here are a few few things I’ve noticed from outsourcing my editing throughout the self-publishing process:

1. My editor noticed things that I hadn’t and probably never would.

My editor noticed silly things that I totally missed on nearly every page of the manuscript. Stuff like me using the word “complementary” when what I really meant to say was “complimentary”.

And while missing things like that might not seem like a very big deal, it starts to add up in your readers’ minds as they read. It’s why self-publishing has gotten such a bad rap over the years, small things that add up and combine to create an unprofessional product priced like it’s not.

2. An outsider brings a fresh set of eyes, but more importantly they bring a new perspective to your work.

Even on a less technical, grammatical level, hiring an outsider to edit your book adds a level of layering and perspective that’s impossible to achieve on your own. 

Things that sounded normal and smooth in my head were clunky and obtrusive to my editor. And that’s what matters. Not what we (authors) think, but what outsiders (readers) do. They’re the ones reading and buying our books, so they should be prioritized at every level of the creation process.

In my opinion, hiring outside editors and other freelancers (cover designers, proofers, etc.) is a must for writers wanting to go the self-publishing route to take back creative and financial control over our work.

If you build out your development team deliberately and with intention, there’s no reason that self-publishing can’t result in the same level of product (or even better) than the tradition Big 5 houses do.

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Thank you,

Nicholas Coursel