In the checklist I developed in the initial post to this series, I said that at a bare minimum, you need to use a grammar checking software like Grammarly, or a competent friend edit your work. Ideally, you’ll hire an editor. The thing about this is that an application like Grammarly is a pretty weak solution. There are a lot of things it doesn’t do or doesn’t do well. A lot of indie writers do their own editing just fine, but having a second opinion is an excellent idea. I absolutely fall into this category. For Wine Bottles and Broomsticks, I did my own editing, assisted by Grammarly. While my grammar wasn’t so bad that folks put down my book, I have received feedback about the quality. Most were generic comments that didn’t help me actually make corrections, I did get a few specific comments, which I addressed. In the end, it points to how important it is to make sure your work is well-edited. You don’t really want most of your social media posts commenting on your lack of editing.
One of the things I am struggling with is the cost of editing. A book of 270 pages is likely to cost you $700-$1000. If you break this down by hour, you’re getting a great deal. If you look at it by return on investment, you’ve expended every dollar your book will ever make and then another $500. I am of two minds on this. For my upcoming book, The Dark Queen of Darkness, I did hire an editor. Her rates were more than $700, but it’s a longer book, and we’ve done more than a basic copy edit. I think I got a fantastic deal on this, but I know now after looking at sales, I will never make this money back. That said, I feel like this was a necessary step. It’s one of those things that makes self-publishing incredibly hard. You want to look as professional as if you’d gone through a big publishing house, but you’re going to pay for it. In the end, it means you are going to pay someone else, and never see a dollar to the positive.
Alright, this is a bit hyperbolic. I’m looking at this from the perspective of releasing a single book, not the performance of the complete works of a writer across time. Practically speaking, if I publish loads of books, do well with advertising, and find my audience, I will probably make my investment back. However, it’s going to go better if I’ve spent the time and effort to properly edit my books. Nothing is more irritating to a reader than mentally editing a book as they read it. We can all put up with a few errors, but more than a hand-full and it’s obnoxious to the point of not being something that can be read.
I think my whole point on editing is that you need to consider, as a writer, you might be too close to the work to edit it well. Consider having someone else do that for you. It might not help your bottom line, but remember, this is a long game. You’re not going to make a living right out of the gate, but if you don’t take quality control seriously, you may find readers just aren’t interested.
What has been your experience as a writer? Do you think self-editing is perfectly fine?