Monday, May 16, 2011

Editing and editors

Unfortunately, the ubiquitous ads that promise "SELF PUBLISH YOUR BOOK FREE," and publishing packages with prices as low as $195, make it seem that editing is an option.

Editing is an option, but it's a NECESSARY OPTION.
  • Every author needs an editor.
  • Even editors who become authors should hire other editors.

As an author, it’s important that you read, re-read and re-read some more to polish your text to near perfection. However, it’s a fundamental fact of writing life that the creator of the work will never catch all of the errors and lapses of judgment.
  • Maybe some words, sentences, paragraphs or whole chapters should be shifted, chopped or even completely eliminated. These are choices best left to someone other than the creator.
  • Words which you think are on the page may exist only in your mind.
  • You may not notice repeated words or paragraphs, improper or missing punctuation, inconsistent abbreviations, or awkward alliterations.

While writers' magazines and directories have lists and ads for professional editors, there is another potential source of high-quality editing which may be available for less money, and the editors may be available to do your work much sooner.

Check with some journalism departments and college newspapers -- perhaps where you went to school -- and you'll likely find several bright and eager candidates. Read some samples of their work. Maybe submit a sample chapter for editing. Ask a faculty member for opinions. Then make the deal.

Skill levels will vary, of course, and so will needs and costs. You can pay per hour or per project. Expect to pay more if you need major rewriting than just copy editing. A student who has a part-time job making minimum wage flipping burgers will probably be thrilled to earn $20 per hour, or $300 - $500 for a project. As a comparison, one company that caters to self-publishing authors recently charged $50 per hour or 1.4 cents per word.

If the job goes well, be sure to put your editor's name in the book, and send a note to his or her faculty advisor.

As long as you're investigating colleges, consider hiring a professor, not just a student. If you're writing in a specialized field, it could be worthwhile to hire a faculty member to check your facts, and pay someone else to polish your prose.


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