Saturday, March 14, 2015

Should Indie Authors Hire Editors?


Recently I retweeted this meme. -->

“Have several writer friends proofread.”

At the time I thought it seemed like decent advice, at least it’s something if you can’t afford, and therefore, won’t be hiring an editor.

It’s not.

As an author self-publishing, it is your duty to hire the proper professionals.


Hiring a cover artist and having a great cover gets readers to pick-up your book.





Bad editing will make a reader put it down.


"Meh. Maybe not so much."

Bad editing is what gives self-publishing a bad name — and we’re not talking about asking your aunt, who happens to be an English teacher, to proofread your manuscript. You need a proper editor.


Think about it. A publisher would never receive a manuscript and send it right to print without going over it with a fine-tooth comb, whether you're a new or seasoned author. And they aren’t only looking for spelling and punctuation.


Things your editor will be looking for


  • Tightening sentences

Cut superfluous words –
Why say it in five words when three will do? Novel writing isn’t like middle school essay writing. I’m sure you know what I mean. We all did it, added extra “ands” or anything else we could to fill that 2-page essay. More words doesn’t mean better.
Example:  The manager of the bank
Instead:  The bank manager

Cut repetitive words –
For example:  She walked over to the door and opened the door.
Instead:  She walked over and opened the door.

Not just in the same sentence:  A chill settled on her skin. She wrapped her arms around herself, but couldn’t chase the chill away.
Instead:  A chill settled on her skin. She wrapped her arms around herself, but couldn’t chase it away.

These are just things that tend to stand out or trip up a reader, taking them out of the story.


  • Consistency

Be consistent with your spelling and terms.
For example:  If you’ve been referring to a weapon as a knife, don’t suddenly call it a dagger; or reference a soul, when up til now it’s been a spirit.

Use consistent style guides. (Chicago Manual, APA, MLA, etc...)
For example:  AM/PM vs A.M./P.M. and ok vs okay



  • Punctuation

Watch for correct use of and commonly misused punctuation. A big no-no is excessive exclamation marks. They should be used sparingly and almost never in narrative.



  • Grammar

Making sure of correct use of words like:  was/were, is/are, who/whom, further/farther, lay/lie, and so on...

Watching for things like:  clichés, split infinitives, and overuse of dependent clauses ending in “ing”



  • Dialogue tags

Keep them simple:  said, asked, whispered, shouted, etc…

In addition to keeping it simple, try:  “Nice to meet you,” he said.
Instead of:  “Nice to meet you,” he said to her.

Watch for excessive dialogue tags. You don’t always need one. Try adding action to convey mood and speaker.
Example:  "I'm stuffed," Dan said. He was so full, he couldn't eat another bite.
Try:  Dan threw his napkin on his plate and leaned back and stretched. “I’m stuffed.”



  • Tense and POV

Making sure the tense stays consistent throughout your story:  past or present

Watch for head-hopping. This is different from an omniscient point-of-view. Head-hopping is when the point-of-view switches characters within a single scene, and without proper transition. The writing can feel choppy. The reader can become confused and feel disconnected, not knowing who they are supposed to identify with.

I found a great example of head-hopping (shown below) on THIS blog.

Jake rolled down the window half an inch, a smirk spreading across his face. The slut would never find her way back without him, and no one would find her until the coyotes had picked her bones clean.

Anna yanked at the door handle. Her chest felt heavy, her lungs unwilling to suck in a full breath. “Unlock the door, Jake. This isn’t funny anymore.”

Jake’s cold blue eyes stared into hers. After all she’d made him suffer through, he was going to enjoy this moment. Savor it like a medium rare T-bone steak.

Now let’s break it apart.

Jake rolled down the window half an inch, a smirk spreading across his face. Sounds like we’re in someone else’s POV here. Someone who’s watching Jake. If we were in Jake’s POV, this would read Jake rolled down the window half an inch and smirked. The slut would never find her way back without him, and no one would find her until the coyotes had picked her bones clean. We’re hearing Jake’s thoughts in Jake’s voice. It’s him, not the author, thinking of Anna as a “slut.”

Anna yanked at the door handle. Her chest felt heavy, her lungs unwilling to suck in a full breath. Now we’re firmly in Anna’s head. Only she can describe how her chest feels and the dread settling there. “Unlock the door, Jake. This isn’t funny anymore.”



Jake’s cold blue eyes stared into hers. Still in Anna’s POV since she’s the one who can see Jake’s eye color. After all she’d made him suffer through, he was going to enjoy this moment. Savor it like a rare T-bone steak. Jake’s thoughts in Jake’s voice again.

I apologize if some of my examples are lame, but hopefully you get the idea.


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