Editing in Review

checklistI’m continuing the discussion of EPICon 2013’s lessons for the next few blog posts.

In their panel discussion, the publishers reviewed the stages of editing. We went through these stages with Sisterhood, but didn’t use these terms. I’ve met authors who feel like when they write “The End” and they’ve proofed the manuscript, they’re done. For indie authors, this can be a disaster.

The publishers explained that after the manuscript is accepted by a publisher, it goes through these editing stages:

  • full content edit — this is not for typos. It is for logical flow and making sure the novel is as strong as it can be. Performed by someone with an eye to what sells, this can make the difference between a novel that sells hundreds of copies and one that sells thousands.
  • line edit — looking for typos in the manuscript and making sure it is ready for typesetting.
  • copy edit — checking the typeset document for errors.

Ideally these editors should be different people so they are coming to the manuscript fresh.

As indie authors, how are we going to afford all of these editors?

If we pick strong beta readers from among our ideal readers — not from our writer friends — we can hopefully get the content edit done. I worked with the incredibly talented Margie Lawson for Sisterhood‘s content edit. I think we went back and forth a couple of times. The process was long and agonizing, but the story was much better for having taken that time.

I didn’t have money to pay expensive editors, so I had a friend do the line editing. A different friend did the copy edit for me, and of course at each stage I was also reading through the manuscript. I already have a copy editor lined up for book 2.

Since Sisterhood went to print, I’ve found two errors on my own. A good friend just pointed out a series of 5 more the other day that I’ll be fixing in the epub.

Another thing I learned at the convention is that the smaller presses are setting a threshold on sales that an author must make in electronic sales before they will release the book in print.

Print is expensive. Making all of my changes to the printed version is going to be cost-prohibitive for a while. Putting out the epub first, finding the errors and then correcting them before going to print makes a lot of fiscal sense.

What ideas do you have for indie authors looking to fund all of these expensive editing stages?



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