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Self Publishing Lessons: How Not to Edit Your Book

I have a confession to make.

I did a really, really shit job of copy editing and proofreading What Happens in New York.

I don’t get embarrassed about much in life, but my terrible job of proofreading and copy editing is #1 on the list.

For someone who prides herself on her copy editing skills, it’s even worse.

Thing is, if it’d been someone else’s piece, I would’ve picked up on it straight away. Because I’d stared at the manuscript so much over several months, it go to the point where I wasn’t full digesting what I’d read anymore.

I only realised just how bad it was about a week ago, when I decided it was time to look back through it. I’d been told there were a few errors, but I didn’t realise I’d find as many as I did. I didn’t count them—I thought it best not to—but let’s say there was a lot.

How not to edit

Why am I telling you this?

Because I want you to learn from my mistake.

There are many, many courses out there that offer to help you write and publish a book in just a few weeks/months.

Be VERY careful going down this path.

If you want to publish something of a high quality in a short space of time, you need to be able to pay a professional developmental editor, copy editor, and proofreader. Possibly even several proofreaders. You will not achieve a high quality book that you can truly be proud of if you do all of those things yourself within a short space of time. It’s just not possible.

When we work on a piece for a long period of time without a break, we start to read what we intended to put there, not what’s actually there. That’s when typos seep through, and odd phrases like ‘she kissed on him’ creep into the prose. (Yes, that really was in What Happens in New York! My cheeks are as red as my hair just admitting this.)

In order to be able to copy edit and proofread your piece successfully, it’s important to distance yourself. Distance is important between all drafts so that you can be objective, but more so when you’re checking it for minor errors. These minor errors make a big difference to how professional your book is, and if your readers will come back for more.

The trouble with novel writing is how bloody long novels can be. There are very few books out there—professionally published ones too—that don’t contain at least one error. They don’t contain quite as many as What Happens in New York did, but that’s my own fault. I’m blaming no one but myself for my mistake.

To the readers…

Is it time to start editing your book? Stop! Find out how NOT to edit your book first...

To those readers that have read it and noticed the errors, I apologise. The Kindle version has since been updated, and I’m currently working on the print version.

I am a one-woman band, and I rushed the process of publishing What Happens in New York. Ultimately, I did it for me, to prove to myself that I could. Now that it’s out of the way, it’s time for me to see the bigger picture and aim for more long-term goals.

There are many indie authors out there that make large chunks of money from publishing on a regular basis. What is often not mentioned when talking about these authors is the amount of work that they put into it. Writing is their full-time job. They have the time and money to dedicate to it, working up to 100 hours a week. They then have several thousand to spend on the editing, proofreading, formatting, design, and marketing of that book.

Most of us don’t have the luxury of being able to put away more than half our pay cheque each month towards side projects. Bills are expensive, and food shopping can amount to just as much.

If you want to self publish your novel, that’s great, but remember that doing it as a one-person band will take longer. It should take longer. There’s no point in rushing the process. Doing so results in errors which can hurt your sales. Take your time, and work on a different project for a few weeks while your main one sits in the far corners of your hard drive. That way, you’ll spot more issues when you go back to it, and you’ll feel prouder of the end result.

Inspire a friend
Category:Copy, Publishing
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ABOUT
Kristina Adams

Kristina Adams is an author of fiction and nonfiction, writing and productivity blogger, and occasional poet. She has a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Derby and an MA in Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University. When she's not writing she's reading, baking, or finding other ways to destroy the kitchen. She can be found under a pile of books with a vanilla latte.

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