The Importance of Book Editing

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You’ve finally finished writing your book. You let your family and friends read it and they sing your praises and ask when you will get it published. One asks about getting a good cover, another asks who will publish it. A couple may mention you have some spelling errors and suggest you go through it and make corrections. Maybe one or two mention grammar. You find a cover designer, decide to self-publish through Amazon or another online publisher. You probably re-read the book and maybe even run it through a spell checker and catch a few spelling errors. What about grammar, punctuation, dropped words, formatting page breaks, adding a table of contents (yes, you do need one)?

You may have the next “Harry Potter” or “Fifty Shades of Grey”, and the cover designer may create a cover so eye-catching it leaps off the shelf. But if your book is sold and readers must struggle through bad (or non-existent) formatting, misspelled words that are distracting, grammar that makes nonsense out of brilliant passages, you can expect poor reviews. Poor reviews make fewer sales and the likelihood any future books you write will be overlooked by potential readers.

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An editor is a big expense and may be the costliest investment in your writing career. There are tons of editors online; some belong to organizations or online publishing groups, some are independent, and more than a few are scammers. How do find the right one for you?

First, what is your budget? An editor can cost anywhere from $500. To as much as $2000 for basic/line editing or proof reading. Line editing and proofreading check for the most basic of grammatical errors. The editor may catch repeated words, and if you’re lucky, may add some color to your prose. This style of editing may include the use of a style guide. The Chicago Manual of Style for example. Keep in mind this is for a standard sized manuscript of 25,000 – 50,000 words. Longer books can cost more.

There are more advanced forms of editing and those are costlier. Style editing involves some re-writing that retains the story while reworking words to make passages more exciting, colorful, or enticing. Rewriting/Show Don’t Tell Editing is more involved. Here the editor will take writing that is lifeless and doesn’t “pop” and turns it into prose that draws the reader into the world of the tale. The reader can see, smell, taste, hear, and feel the action. Content Editing involves extensive rewriting. Entire scenes may be deleted or rearranged, characters may be more fully developed, and plots could be redirected. The entire tone of the manuscript might be changed. Developmental Editing is a combination of all the other types. The editor virtually develops the story further and is the most expensive and extensive form of editing. Entirely new scenes, characters, and even plots may be added.

Since you will be spending a considerable amount of money on this you want to hire someone reputable. I have heard horror stories of scammers who have charged unsuspecting authors as much as $700. and done absolutely nothing. The writer goes on to publish her book and doesn’t know she’s been cheated until the negative reviews roll in. There are a significant number of editors online. You can even find them on Fiverr for a reasonable price. Before forking over your hard-earned cash, do your research! Read reviews, ask for samples, and if at all possible, get referrals from other authors.


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