Falling In Lust With Editing
Indie Thoughts by Aneesa Price
To edit or not? That’s a question many indie writers ponder as they near the completion of a book. After I wrote my first two novels, I spent an inordinate amount of time reading blogs and books on whether or not to edit. Some authors felt that it wasn’t necessary and that beta readers served the same purpose as a freelance editor. Most, however, extolled the virtues of editing, not only recommending it but citing it as a necessary requirement to produce a high quality novel. This high quality novel would of course have further benefits of creating a reader base and providing additional sales that would not be as attainable with unedited work. In the end I decided to not edit my work, not because I didn’t believe that my work required editing but because of the cost involved.
I often wonder how on earth editors think that they can charge indie writers the amounts that they do as many writers do not even earn that back in sales for months. I’ve heard shocking stories of writers paying nearly $2000.00 US to have their work edited. This is beyond what I can afford. Like many indie writers my day job pays my bills, not my book sales as the prices that my books sell for are low, royalties lower and that is before I’m taxed. As much as I was open to editing my work, I just couldn’t afford it.
I also admit that I had a certain level of arrogance about having my work edited. This was not due to the usual indie thoughts around ‘no one touches my work’. No, I believed that because I majored in English at university that I would produce stellar writing that was free of both spelling and grammatical errors. After all, I never used spell check in my day to day writing. In fact, I often find that spell check makes mistakes. I thus opted to obtain the assistance of beta readers instead. But I was in for a nasty surprise that would result in a scathing review as well as many hours re-editing my work. I, who never makes grammatical or spelling mistakes, made many. After that experience I vowed to illicit the services of an editor should I be able to afford it - after all, I still have bills to pay.
I recently completed an erotic novella and as it has a word count of around 15,000 I decided to give editing a try. The lower the word count, the lower the cost of editing. I still couldn’t afford the top end editors who are often spoken of. I then reached out to a friend who had begun Mary-Nancy’s Eagle-Eye Editing. I knew her and trusted her. I’d also been secretly visited her editing business’s site many times to look at her services and pricing. Although as a South African, I had to convert the price to my local currency (this meant multiplying the US dollar price by eight), she was more affordable than other editors and I decided to bite the bullet. She offered me a discount and also agreed, as part of her service offering, to review the book and post it on the Amazon site, her blog and Barnes & Noble.
I nodded, transferred the money via paypal and then waited anxiously. Now indie writers embarking on this path should note that it is a nerve-wrecking experience to wait for someone to provide you with feedback on your work, particularly if their sole purpose is to identify what’s wrong with it. What helped was that this process was prompt, efficient and utterly professional despite our relationship. I had edited the novella many times and had employed the voluntary services of beta readers. However, she still picked up spelling errors and the odd grammatical error. Furthermore, because she’s American and I write primarily for an American audience, she assisted me in correcting the odd UK English word that slipped in unobtrusively. What I appreciated most about the experience though, was that it mitigated for the torturous process of continuous re-editing. Despite the week long period to get the novella edited, it was an experience I much prefer to not having it done. I could, with satisfied comfort, publish the work knowing that it is in the best shape it can possibly be.
The realization that I made was that a quality book equates to detailed editing and that writing is an art. I much prefer being an artist. Have I joined the mass of indie writers who advocate hiring the services of an editor? Oh yes! I’ve fallen in lust with editing - it gave me the freedom and security to focus on doing what I love, which is write and not - thank goodness - edit!