YES, YES, YES! Have I said yes enough? Listen, as a self-published author my number one goal is not to look self-published, and that should be your goal as well. Which means investing money for editing your work. Sure, you can have your cousin or best friend who has a degree in English or literature proof your book for you, but unless they are intimately familiar with the market and what readers are going to expect from your book, then you need to hire a professional.
We all want to think the first story we write will be breathtaking (at least I did). I imagined my readers tearing up by the beautiful scenes I had taken so much care crafting and the plot twist I had stayed up all night thinking about, that was until my lovely editor got a hold of it. She loved the overall story, but it needed some work. I started the book as a sweet romance and then toward the end of the book I went a little dark, I had characters that added no value to the story and scenes which went on for far too long without advancing the plot. That is when my editor put the brakes on and said, hold on here, if you want to go dark with this book then you need to let your readers know at the beginning of the book that the story may lead that way. She was brutally honest with me, and that is what I needed. I will admit once I received her edits it took me six weeks to be able to look at the book again as I went through my periods of mourning. I knew showing someone my work for the first time would be painful, and my inner fear that I was just an imposter trying to break into a world I didn’t belong in started settling in. In the end, I rolled up my sleeves and went to work. I combined characters into one, I changed the end of the story and rearranged scenes within the book. When I look back at the changes I made, I can happily say I invested my money wisely. I hired someone to look at my work and point out everything that was wrong with it so I can make it a better product, and she delivered on her promise. She took one look at the puzzle I had created and suggested I should re-arrange it so the customer may have a better experience. For me as an author and business entrepreneur, my goal is for my readers to enjoy reading my work and in turn, I can one day make a living doing what I enjoy the most.
After the developmental edits had been done, she recommended I seek a copy editor. In this stage of the editing, your copy editor will evaluate your manuscript for sentence structure, words choices, the flow of text, transition and wordiness. The editor I worked with delivered me a copy of the manuscript with track changes and then another clean document with all the changes already made. The cost for copy editing is not inexpensive by any means, but the last thing you want is for tons of errors to show up in your book once it's for sale. Usually, a copy editor will ask for a sample of your writing to determine how what level of editing you will need. I recommend running your manuscript through Grammarly for free before submitting to any editor. The software is an automated proofreader and will check your text for incorrect word usage, grammatical errors, word repetition and sentence structure. To unlock advanced features, you can subscribe for $30 a month.
The last stage of editing was a proofer. If you have a limited budget, this is where I suggest you gather all your family and friends, beta readers, or your street team if you have one and give them a free copy of your manuscript so they can check for any grammar issues that may have been missed. Once you have made all those corrections, I would run it by Grammarly one more time just to be sure you captured everything.
Once your editing process is done, then you can relax and sit back and enjoy a nice beverage and watch the money roll in . . . just kidding, now you have to market the hell out of it!
Here are some resources and where you can find an editor:
1) Join self-publishing groups on Facebook. They have a wealth of information on the self-publishing process and can usually recommend editors.
2) Look at Reedsy a website with freelance editors you can hire for your book.
3) Join the Romance Writers Association and then one of their local chapters.
4) Follow self-publishing blogs that have resources for editing
Editing your first book or even subsequent ones can seem like a scary journey to take as your work is ripped apart and put back together again, but it is one you must take. It is a fierce competition out there, and if you want a hand in the game, you have to play it like a pro.