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Hi...

I have a question what is the best way to go about editing for a book you have written?  Professional Editors are very costly.  I was hoping someone could give me some advice I have found prowritingaid.com which I have been using.  But, being a brand new author I would appreciate any input.

Thanks!

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I am somewhat biased here, because I am both a writer and an editor. I send my books to someone for a manuscript assessment. I finally found someone who will do a good job fairly inexpensively and in good time too. He doesn't take on many new jobs though, as he is really retired these days. As for other editing, such as copy editing and proof reading, I do it myself, even though I know this is not the best idea. I KNOW it is next to impossible for a writer to edit their own work objectively. However, like you, I find most professional editing services far too expensive. I offer very competitive rates for editing for this very reason, although I realise that many writers can't really afford to pay anything at all. I'm not sure what prowritingaid.com is, and when I edit my own work, I don't use any such aid. One thing I do is to edit as I go, constantly. Most writers will advise against this, but it works well for me. That way I nip errors, discontinuities, plot inconsistencies and so on, in the bud. I catch myself out on any bad habits or patterns I have fallen into very early. It is much easier to fix things before they become entrenched. I can only advise that you read your work very carefully and very slowly. Read each word, aloud if that helps, and don't skim. If you read 'naturally' you are sure to read what you think is there, rather than what is actually there, and you will miss many errors. I'm not sure if this helps. Editing your own work is simply less than ideal, even though I do that myself.

As a teacher of creative writing, composition and literature, and a writer and editor myself, teaching editing as well as performing the function myself can be difficult. Here re some tips I give my students. One, is to take a chapter at a time, and read backwards from the end of the story, checking each sentence as you work your way back. After revisions or rewriting, give yourself some time before editing. I have to be careful about changing names of characters as I never seem to get them all changed. You simply must master grammar. I suggest buying every grammar and style book you can get your hands on and reading them tirelessly. Never use a punctuation mark unless you know it is right or you intend a certain effect. And finally for those of us like myself who simply cannot afford editing services, make friends with writers who are willing to read your manuscript in exchange for you reading their's--an adult version of the child's game of "I'll show you mine if you'll show me yours!". One thing many writers overlook is the ability to take a night class at a local college, university or community college as a noncredit student. Read everything you read as an editor as well as a reader, if that makes sense. Be aware of how other authors use punctuation and craft their sentences. I hope this helps!



Allison,

Here are my reasons for hiring a professional editor. You are right--they are costly. But if you want to produce a professionally written book, I believe it needs to be professionally edited.

  1. Most writers don’t possess complete editorial skills. Most qualified editors have a bachelor's or master's degree in English, creative writing, communications or journalism and have been educated in all aspects of writing and editing.
  2. Editors are likely to catch errors that authors miss since It’s easy for authors to inadvertently skip over errors when they know what they meant.
  3. Editors can be more objective then the owner of the writing.
  4. After living and breathing the manuscript for months, writers often become too attached to be critical. Editors don't have this problem.
  5. A fresh pair of eyes will catch missed errors.
  6. A second opinion from someone who knows what sells can be invaluable.

Thank you all for your responses.  Florence trust I wish I could afford a professional editor.  I am in the process of going back through my book and I took your advice CD of reading out load that has helped me as well.

Thank you all again.

Allison

Another idea is to use your computer camera and record yourself as you are reading. If you do not have a camera on your computer you can also use a recorder. Then play it back. Often times when you are reading aloud, you may miss things that you can catch by doing it that way as well. It's kind of like double checking your work. If you have a friend or family member that is good with English/grammar/sentence structure, you can ask them if they wouldn't mind reading it and telling you what they thought of it. Then ask them if they wouldn't mind letting you know if there is anything wrong, or something you missed in the area of English/grammar/sentence structure. It may not work with everyone, but if you have that outlet, it can be a great resource. Rick Riordan when he wrote Percy Jackson, gave it to the kids in his class and asked them if they could read it and give their honest opinion on it. That was a very creative way of getting great idea of how it was going to work out with his target market and make adjustments if need be.

Best of luck!

I would say if you intend to send your MS to a publisher, then self editing and getting some reliable 'crit partners' or 'beta' readers to go through your work is Ok - but if you intend to self publish, I would strongly advise getting it professionally edited - I know it's an expense that's difficult to afford if you're on a tight budget, but if there are too many errors (and these are so difficult to spot yourself) it can result in readers becoming frustrated and posting bad reviews, which is something you really don't want!

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