Behind the Scenes in Indie Publishing - The Editing Games
The Editing Games
How can indie authors get it right?
The best part of being an indie author can also be the worst part.
Indie authors get to maintain absolute control over every aspect of the products we produce. With total creative freedom, we get to make all of the decisions about the books we write. But, we also have the responsibility to source the right editors and that can be an exhaustive exercise in futility, as well as a drain on the shoestring indie budget.
So how does an indie author source good editing? The only real answer to that question is experience. As with any profession, the more experience you gain, the better you get at your craft. Any author worth their salt will improve with every book they write. The same can be said about an indie author’s ability to find and source the right contracted editors and designers with each book they produce.
For the first time indie, the editing game can be a huge learning experience and it takes a great deal of homework to even know where to begin. But finding the right editors will be the most important thing you ever do as a self-published author. For many first time indies, when you’re just starting out, you don’t know what you don’t know and it takes time and experience to learn that lesson.
With my first book, I was hesitant about hiring a random stranger to tear my baby apart.
How would I know if they even knew what they were doing?
How would I know my precious intellectual property would be safe in their hands?
How could I trust a freelancer to give me the same level of editing any traditionally published book would receive from a team of experienced editors?
There were no good answers to those concerns, but I had to start somewhere. So I explored my personal network and discovered a previous co-worker was working as a freelance editor. We discussed my project and I was comfortable with this editor’s experience, and the fact that I knew them personally made me even more comfortable. It was a good place to start. It was EXPENSIVE! (Never work with a freelance editor who charges by the hour. Go with an experienced editor who charges by word count.)
I shudder to think of how much I spent editing that first book. The editor did good job and I learned a lot. I have since learned that this person wasn’t nearly experienced enough for the amount I paid. (I could have edited four books for the price of that first one). With my developmental editing budget blown out of the park, I still needed to source a line editor for the final draft. Again, I found someone in my personal network who did a good job for a decent price. In the end, I was able to publish a book I was extremely proud of, but in hindsight, knowing what I know now—with the network of professionals I now have—I would do things differently. Still, I was lucky. Other first time indies have experienced some truly awful horror stories on their journeys to finding the right editor.
I now have a team of editors, beta readers and proofreaders who do an excellent job for a price that doesn’t break my budget. The best advice I can give any new indie on the hunt for the right editor is to plan early and begin every potential editor on a trail basis before you hire them to tackle your whole book.
As a reader, it can be extremely frustrating to purchase a poorly edited book. But as the self-publishing industry moves forward, the bar is continually raising with each passing year, making it increasingly difficult for indie authors to become successful if they do not pursue proper editing first.
— Melissa A. Craven — Indie Manager and Staff Reviewer