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Working With an Editor – Tips and Tricks to Maximize Success

Working with an editor: Tips and tricks to maximize success

On your publishing path, you will inevitably work with an editor (and if you don’t, we recommend you do). Having been on both sides of the equation, we’ve assembled our best tips for hiring and working with an editor.

Why Hire an Editor

Working with an editor: Use your author network to vet potential editorsFor those who are looking to take their manuscript and publishing career seriously, an editor is non-negotiable in our view. Editors do everything from make sure your story flows, to finding your split infinitives, to checking for periods and more. At a minimum, you should hire a line editor for your manuscript. We’ve written and published thirteen books so far, and we still outsource line editing. It’s just that important.

Covering Your Ass…umptions

Up front, we want to offer a Buyer Beware. There are lots of folks out there who offer editing services for varying prices. Before putting down any money, make sure you’ve done your homework. Get recommendations from your fellow authors (find them in genre-based Facebook Support Groups). Ask your prospective editor if they’d be willing to do a sample test run.

You also want to be careful about how much you pay. A 100k word manuscript single edit shouldn’t cost you thousands of dollars (although if you’re getting multiple rounds, it might). Make sure to get a few quotes until you find someone you can work with at a fair price.

If you’re concerned about plunking down a lot of money, you can set up a contract outlining expectations, timeline, and payment options. Some editors require 50% up front, and the rest upon delivery, and some expect it all up front. Do what feels right for your budget, and always err on the side of keeping your money.

What To Deliver

Working with editors: Deliver your best work to your editor. Why pay for someone to fix what you already know is wrong?Your editor should receive your very best work. This may seem counterintuitive–if they’re going to fix it anyway, why not give them mediocre work? Think of it this way: you’re paying them to bring your book to a higher level. Why would you waste your money and have them flag things you could’ve fixed yourself? Take the time to make sure the manuscript is clean of large errors and comments.

Depending on the type of editing, you may deliver the manuscript in one file or break it into chunks. For line editing and other non-subjective review, we prefer to get it in one go and send edits back. For content editing, we’ve found success with fifty-page chunks, especially if the manuscript needs more work.

Disagreements Happen. Communication is Key.

A good editor will always make you feel like you’re in control. But sometimes, you may disagree with their edit. And that’s all right! As we talked about a few weeks ago, getting feedback is a balance. Your editor understands that some of their notes may be disregarded. However, make sure to let them know, especially if working back and forth, that you’ve decided to go a different direction. It will help them adjust fire on their notes, and keep frustration to a minimum.

You also want to make sure to keep an open dialogue on timelines and expectations, and include lag time on your publishing schedule if there’s a delay. Editors are human, after all.

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How to Self-Edit: A Key Author Skill

How to self-edit: A key author skill

There are many skills you need as an author. An eye for plot, a sense of empathy for good characters. Nerves of steel to withstand criticism and bad reviews. But one of the best skills a new author can hone is the ability to lend a critical eye to their own work. In today’s blog, we’ll share our tips on how to self-edit your manuscript.

Know When to Edit

The first step for any author is to know thyself. Or, really, know thyself at the present moment. Authors are creative creatures. We’ve found that no matter how similar a book, drafting rarely happens the same way twice. There are a thousand variables in your life, from kids and career to the weather and alignment of the moon. Depending on these variables, your mood will change. When and where you should start that all-important self-editing should too.

For example, if you are trying to draft a book in the midst of renovating a house, running two businesses, and having to deal with obligations around friends, family, and kids, you may want to just draft, draft, draft without any consideration for self-editing. We’ve had moments where we stare at whole sections of words, knowing they have to go, but not wanting to fall backward in our word count goals. And then we get stuck.

Many new authors believe that there’s only one way to write a book. They get so wrapped up in what they should be doing that they forget the first rule of writing: There are no rules. Knowing your own threshold is the first step to success.

Put it in a New Frame

How to self-edit: Reading your manuscript in a different format triggers your brain to notice different thingsGenerally, our drafting process works with both self-editing and drafting (depending on the mood). At the end of three months, we get a “first” draft, which usually pretty nearly is what the final book looks like. Depending on your skill level, your first draft may not be close, but that doesn’t matter. As long as you have a book-shaped draft, this tip will apply. Export or email the book to your eReader, find a spot away from your computer, and read your book as a reader would.

There are a few reasons why this works. When you put your manuscript in a different platform with a different color scheme and shape, it triggers something in your brain. The book is no longer yours, it’s any other book you picked up off Amazon. And then your writer brain turns into your reader brain and you can become more critical.

The trick is not to overthink it. Leave one or two word comments, like “More,” “Confusing,” or our favorite “WTF.” Because you’re reading on a tablet or eReader, you won’t get sucked down a rabbit hole of fixing those issues and can take in the whole draft.

What to Look For

Our recommendation is to give your manuscript a few weeks to sit untouched before you give it a read. Or, if your life is fairly hectic and you can’t remember what you had for breakfast, less time is fine. The key is that you’re reading the story with fresh eyes.

While you should be reading without any preconceived thoughts, we always like to keep a list of things to look out for. These are easy flags for you to go back and review later:

  • Scene openings: Is the world adequately described?
  • Dialogue: Is the conversation easy to follow? Is it clear who is speaking?
  • Emotional fallout: Have we given enough emotional resolution following a large event (such as a death or plot twist)
  • Characters: Are the characters staying true to how they’ve been described? Are they reacting for plot’s sake, or is the plot driving their decisions?
  • Repetition: Has this thought been conveyed before?

Because you don’t have to fix errors, simply find them, you can be more honest with yourself on whether something isn’t working. Even if there’s a question, flag it and come back to it.

When it’s all done, add in your notes as comments in your manuscript. Don’t be worried if there are a lot, or if it seems like your entire manuscript is covered in comments. That’s actually a good thing! It means you’ve got a critical eye for locating problems. Just tackle a few at a time, and you’ll get through them all.

Then do the process again and again, until you’ve got something for your beta readers.

Why Self-Editing is Important

How to self-edit: The better you are at self-editing, the better your books will beWhy would you go through all this trouble if you’re just going to hire an editor? In the first place, editors are not supposed to be the authors of the book. They are merely there to assist authors in clarifying their vision.

If you’re self-published, you are most likely paying your editor. If you truly want to get your money’s worth from that resource, why would you give them sub-par work? Essentially, you’re paying them to flag and fix things you already knew about. If you give them your very best work, they have a chance to elevate it to an even higher level than you could on your own. And who would say no to that?

At the end of the day, the better you are at self-editing, the better you’ll be at writing books. This is a skill that comes with practice and time.

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The Importance of Editing For Self-Published Authors

Why is editing so important for self-published authors? Find out in the blog today

Welcome to the first in our next blog series, focusing on the magic of editing. We at SGR-P are both providers of editorial services and accepters of it. For the next few weeks, we’ll talk about different editorial topics, from self-editing to finding your betas. We hope that it helps shine some light on this subject, and convinces you why editing for self-published authors isn’t something to be ignored.

What is Editing

Editing for self-published authors: Depending on your writing style, editing can happen at any time in the drafting process.Let’s start at the beginning (the very best place to start…). When we talk about editing, we are talking about a multitude of different steps in the publication process.

There are several kinds of editing out there:

  • Content editing is the process of looking at your story from a 10,000 foot view, and providing feedback. Generally, your content editor doesn’t help with typos or line edits (although they can point out clunky phrases). They will point out inconsistencies in characters and plotholes.
  • Line editing takes your 10,000 foot view and drops it down to a 100 foot view. Your line editor may blend with a copy editor to find typos and grammatical errors.
  • Copy editing goes even further to a 10 foot view, focusing solely on the grammar and typos
  • Quality Assurance (QA) editing is the final review for typos and errors that the previous three editing processes missed.

Depending on your drafting style, it can happen as you write, or it can happen in one big chunk (or both). Where and when you need to outsource depends on your own comfort zone.

The Publishing Process

For our alter-ego, S. Usher Evans, she follows the same basic process:

  • Step 1: Finish a “first draft.” Sush likes to self-edit along the way, so it takes her a little longer to get those first 75,000 words down. Generally 3ish months.
  • Step 2: Let it sit for a week, then read on the Kindle. This is another self-edit, where she rips her manuscript apart with the ferocity of the most persnickety reader, versus the persnickety eye of a writer.
  • Step 3: After repeating Step 2 once or twice, the manuscript is released to her beta readers. These lovely loves are readers and other authors who provide an outside perspective to the story. After incorporating those edits once more, it gets another view on the Kindle.
  • Step 5: The manuscript gets shipped off to the incredible Danielle Fine, who has been our go-to external editor for 11 of our 13 books. She rips it apart, as she does.
  • Step 6: Once Dani’s edits are incorporated, it’s time for the first printed proof. One more read with an actual red pen.
  • Step 7: The final step is to ship the nearly-complete manuscript to our bevy of QA readers, who have a keen eye for typos and formatting errors.
  • Step 8: The book is ready for preorder!

Why Is Editing So Important?

You might be asking yourself why should you go through all this trouble. You’re a pretty godo editor, your good at finding typos and whatnot.

For self published authors, it's important to remember nobody is perfect. Good editing will help reduce mistakes.Did you find the typos in the previous sentence? (It was a test!)

One sentence is easy. A 400 page book is another story. Even our QA readers end up finding different things in the book, although there is a lot of overlap. No one person is infallible, and you shouldn’t have to be.

Besides that, editing isn’t just finding typos, as we said above. A good content editor can take your book from okay to fantastic by helping you clarify your thoughts. A line editor will give you a punch list of issues in your book to knock out. While you may be able to find some great beta readers out there, a paid editor is a contracted resource. They will take the time to make sure your book is the best it can possibly be.

All of this boils down to one basic idea: You need a paid editor if you want to pursue a career (or even moderate success) as an author.

Time-Value Proposition

For authors, you’re expected to do a whole lot of stuff. Build an audience. Grow your social media. Develop marketing campaigns with blogs and Instagram posts and whatnot. And keep writing more books, of course.

When you outsource your book to a paid editor, you are placing worth on your own time. You’re saying, “I could spend six months reviewing each chapter in painstaking detail and still risk issues. Or I could hand it off to you and get it done in a month.”

We also like to use this scenario: An editor will run you around $400 (depending on word count). If you publish your book on Amazon, you’ll have to sell 197 books at $2.99 (with a profit of $2.04) to break even on that edit job. If you don’t use an editor… you may not sell any books at all. And no authors wants their debut novel littered with one-star reviews about poor editing.

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