Self-publishing can be expensive. Between editing, cover design, formatting, printing, and marketing, you can spend a small fortune if you aren’t careful. Even if you’re a DIY author who controls every aspect of the process, there are many (expensive) costs associated with bringing your work to the world. Finding ways to cut those costs can become an important part of your learning curve as a self-publishing author. (And no, skipping the professional editing isn’t one of those ways.)
Estimates for the whole self-publishing enchilada range from several hundred to several thousands of dollars—and one of the biggest expenses is typically the editing. But professional, quality editing doesn’t have to put a huge hole in your wallet. The best editing money can buy is available at a fraction of the cost many writers pay when you use the B.E.S.T. system.
B is for Beta readers
E is for Editing your own work
S is for Sample edit
T is for Talk to your editor
1. B is for Beta readers who can give your constructive feedback on what is and isn’t working in your manuscript. This is an opportunity to see how others interpret your work—how readers will respond. You get so close to your work that you cannot be as objective as you need to be. Patterns of error, plot holes, undeveloped characters, run-on sentences, subject-verb disagreements, and punctuation gaffes are all fair game for a beta reader or writing workshop buddy. Correct the grammar and punctuation errors, and use the suggestions that make sense to you. Don’t feel compelled to make a change that doesn’t respect your authorial voice or one that doesn’t improve your work.
2. E is for Editing your own work. After you receive feedback from your beta readers, writing workshop partner, or other writers, go back and re-edit one more time. Anything you can fix before turning your manuscript over to an editor will save you time and money in the long run. Self-editing techniques like printing out your work and editing on paper, or reading backward from the end of your manuscript to the beginning, are just two ways scores of writers edit their work and catch mistakes. Check out the related articles below for some other great ideas.
3. S is for Sample edit, which you should get before you decide on an editor. Blindly hiring someone because he’s inexpensive or she knows your mother isn’t a wise business decision. Reviewing a sample edit will give you a huge insight into a particular editor’s knowledge and ability. Every editor has a slightly different approach to editing, and this is a quick way to see if your expectations and his or her style are a good match. “He charged a small fortune but I hated what he did to my work” is something no author should ever have to say.
4. T is for Talk to your editor. The relationship between a writer and his or her editor is based on communication and trust. When editing is a collaborative effort, you learn what works and what doesn’t in your writing, which will allow you to make your own corrections on this manuscript as well as build your writing skills going forward. Make it clear to your editor that you are on a tight budget and want guidance on self-editing; for example, if your sample edit indicates you use commas incorrectly, go back through your manuscript with a style guide or other reference material in hand and correct as many of those commas as possible before turning the manuscript over for editing. One missing or incorrectly placed comma won’t make a difference in your editing bill, but dozens and dozens of them in addition to everything else can really add up in a novel-length manuscript.
When you follow these four points, your manuscript will be in the best shape you are able to make it and your editing dollars will go much farther. Even when you’re on a tight budget, there’s no excuse to publish your book without having it professionally edited and proofread. You have to be smart about how you spend your money; develop a plan and follow the B.E.S.T. points to make sure your manuscript is the best it can be!
What other way have you found to save money on professional editing? Have you traded critiques with another writer, or hired an editor to coach you through a rough spot? Please share your stories, which might even help a fellow writer save a few editing dollars!
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