In this episode I talk to editor Harry Dewulf about the different types of editing available to indie authors. The episode should clarify what is meant by the huge number of terms out there referring to the different types of editing.
In addition to that we chat about the editing process, what authors can expect, and what authors should ask the editor they are think about hiring.
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Email Harry: firstname.lastname@example.org
Damon Courtney – Harry’s first indie author client.
Chicago Manual of Style – Great guide for those interested in learning self-editing.
KBoards yellow pages – A great place to find editors.
Harry says that editing terms are often blurred but essentially he views it as broken into two elements: high level and low level.
Low Level Edit – Proof/copy/line editing. Reading of the text and active correction of the text.
High Level Edit (Harry’s area) – Developmental/content/substantial/literary editing. Deals with the plot, characters and the development of the story.
The Process (do bear in mind that the process your editor goes through might be different).
– Harry gets the manuscript (a draft by author) – he then transfers it to his Kindle and highlights something each time he sees an issue. This then goes to his computer and he can expand on his quick notes.
– He also creates another document which deals with general issues with the book – anything that is a ‘repeat issue’ and general discussion over the book e.g. character development.
– Manuscript with the notes and the general document go back to the author. (Harry also sends a guide out to his authors with some general editing advice).
– After the author has read and written notes on these, Harry gets them on the phone to talk about it all.
– Author gets on with the next draft. Writes this.
– Sent back to the editor for a second readthough – mostly to check the issues have been solved (not something offered by all editors).
– This is the end of the work for Harry, if additional reads are wanted then there will probably be a charge ($75 in Harry’s case).
– Now the author should send the work to beta readers and take and implement feedback.
– Sent to copyeditor.
– Ready to go!
What’s different for self-published authors?
Harry says in the past big publishing houses were able to pay an editor to work through a manuscript over and over again until it was perfect. This isn’t really possible in the indie world as it’s just unaffordable. Putting a book to market is essential and doing dozens of revisions is unnecessary in today’s world.
Mass feedback from reviews is very helpful. Writers can see this and use the feedback to make themselves better writers.
Finding the right editor can be hard – “each author should try 3 or 4 high level editors”. Make sure that you are a good match with your editor. You should be able to become friends with your editor. If you are not having a great experience with your editor, don’t feel you have to stay with them throughout the series.
Working on a Further Book with your Editor
Editing becomes a different process as an author grows. The first book is more about sorting out basic issues, the second book will often have the editor dealing with more advanced issues.
A high level editor working with you on a second book might help with plot development. This wont happen with an editor on the first book as the editor will probably ask to see a completed first draft.
What to ask your editor:
– What do you do for me for $X? – Ask them to lay out their editing process.
– Can I get a sample edit? – It should always be free and around 500-1000 words. Send them something from the middle of the book.
– Can I talk with you on the phone? Will we chat over issues? How much time do I have to talk to you?
– How many read throughs are including in the price?
If you pay more you can expect more in terms of work done by the editor. Make sure you check what’s being done the editor (ask the above questions).
Getting a quote is the only way to really know for sure how much it is going to cost. Quotes are free, so you should shop around to find an editor who you would like to work with and who does the editing at the right price.
Harry says for him a 120,000 word book could be anything from $800 to $2500, with the high end being a manuscript that require a lot of work.
A major part of editing is a second pair of eyes, so if you choose to self edit make sure you still get this – use beta readers.
You can teach yourself to self-edit. Practice by writing something quickly, have a friend look over it and seal what they think about it away, then attempt to edit it yourself. Work on this until you start seeing the external feedback aligning with your own.
Style manuals are valuable, Harry recommends the Chicago Manual of Style.
The important thing to bear in mind is that while you can edit your own work, you might find your time is better spent writing. Also, an editor is going to do far more editing than you so is likely to have greater expertise.
“[Editing] is not about how good I can make the book, it’s about how good the author can make it”
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