Editing? Help is at Hand. Guest Post by Daniel Burton

Editing. It can be a minefield, but navigating it is essential for making your novel a success. Having self-published my own novel, Heartbound, in January 2015, I vividly remember the stress of going through 70 000 words making sure each one was spelt correctly and that each sentence sounds right. Needless to say, the editing process took a fair bit of time!

Editing is more than just checking your spelling and punctuation. The plot needs to be tight (no going off at a tangent!) and the overall layout has to be spot on. Even the smallest details, like your character‘s eye and hair colour, need checking for consistency. You’ve heard of going through something with a fine toothcomb, well that is exactly what editing is and then some!

It might seem tortuous, but editing can make the difference between a mediocre review and an outstanding 5* review. Readers will remember the grammar errors and typos a lot more than your imaginative metaphors and settings, and mark you down accordingly. Fortunately though, you are not alone!

There are two ways of tackling the editing process. One way (which I did) is to go through the manuscript yourself. Nothing wrong with that at all, however there is always the risk that you’ll miss something. You’ve worked hard for months and months, molding your words into a literary masterpiece, and it is this connection with your manuscript that could make you blind to errors. Trust me, I know!

Help is at hand, though! Copy editors are always willing to help make your already great work even better, and they can save you a lot of stress. A neutral pair of eyes can pick up those subtle errors that might have escaped your attention. Some say that the relationship between a copy editor and an author is like a marriage; you naturally will have to feel you can trust the editor to do a good job and there might well be disagreements, but you work through them.

I believe that having a good copy editor, whom you can trust and believe in, is like having a best friend; they will guide you, support you and hopefully have some laughs along the way! Yes, a copy editor will charge you a fee, but it is a worthwhile investment; a great copy editor will have your best interests at heart and will want the manuscript to succeed just as much as you do. 

I love to help people, including authors. Alongside my own novel writing, I am also a copy editor. You could say I have the best of both worlds! As well as editing, I can also write press releases and blog posts. For manuscript editing, I typically charge £10 per 1000 words. Blog posts cost £2.50 per 100 words, short documents (like synopses and cover letters) cost £5 per document, website content costs £5 per webpage and press releases cost £15.

Editing can be fun! Whether you choose to go through the manuscript yourself or go with a copy editor, have that publication goal in the forefront of your mind; keep thinking about seeing your book on the shelves or an e-reader and you can achieve that dream of being an author. It is such a great feeling, and the editing stage is an essential rung on that ladder. To find out more about what I can do for you, check out the links below.

Happy Writing!

Twitter: @dburton_editing


Lee said…
I love going off on a tangent! Tangents are great if they're well-written! Fortunately, I'm not alone! Trust me, I know!

Susan Price said…
I'm with you to an extent, Lee... But then, those tangents that are gone off on are, in a well-written book, actually carefully planned, considered and controlled, and only appear to be going off tangentially.

Just as 'naturalistic dialogue' is, in fact, anything but natural. Discuss, with and without exclamation marks.
Lydia Bennet said…
Welcome to AE, Daniel, and may I say I'm impressed that you give actual prices for your work - so many people in business won't do that, even on their websites, which puts people off enquiring further. I like doing my own press releases etc but I've seen some shockingly bad synopses/pitches/blurbs written by otherwise good writers for their own work - for some reason they go to pieces and try to cram the entire story in - your services could well be a boon to them!
madwippitt said…
So true - typo-riddled books are irritating and distract you from the writing ... and snap Lydia ...:-)
Lynne Garner said…
I check all of my self-published work a minimum of three times. I then get my partner to provide his feedback. Finally I send off to a proof reader who then does a fantastic job of picking up those silly little things we've missed e.g. their, they're and there - quite or quiet and my most common wobble then and than.

In my humble opinion if someone is going to pay to purchase my books then I have an obligation to make it the best that I can. I'd demand nothing less from any other author.
Nick Green said…
Another great tip is not having too many exclamation marks!
Lee said…
All tongue-in-cheek aside, Susan, you've posed an interesting dilemma about tangents. Do we really want everything to be 'carefully planned, considered and controlled' in a novel? I'm not so sure. Maybe it's just me, but I quite enjoy the big, baggy nature of the beast (which is one of ways I believe it differs from the short story). An example: I've just finished reading William Giraldi's Hold the Dark, and whilst I admire a great deal about it, it also irritated me. Why? Because all the plot pieces ended up fitting together too well. Perhaps it was the contrast with the darkness of the soul, unexplained and inexplicable, which bothered me. Or maybe, like in Ian McEwan's Amsterdam, you really can over-control the elements of your plot.

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