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Editing – Is it Necessary?

If you’ve been following along via Twitter and Facebook, you already know that VITAE is due out in a few months. Working on the novel has been where the bulk of my free time has gone since recovering from a wrist injury. My wrist still isn’t at 100%, but it’s close enough so that I can write/type for longer periods of time with an occasional rest.

A lot has gone on since my previous post. The Writing Community on Twitter has been an invaluable wealth of support, knowledge, and overall shenanigans, and I love the friendships that I’ve formed and that I see forming among others. We are not each other’s competition – we give strength, encouragement, and more than enough fun and jokes to keep our fellow writers uplifted, and I’m so glad to be part of a remarkable group of people.

As my journey and transformation evolved from once being on the outside looking in to now working on finishing my second novel while laying the groundwork for the third, fourth, and fifth, I am learning so much. My hope is to pass on what I’ve learned and the mistakes I’ve made along the way, with the goal of helping others to be armed and informed with a little more than what they might have been aware of before stumbling upon my blog.

Of course, my word is not End-All-Be-All by any means. Each writer has his or her own path to follow, and we have all taken advice that has originated elsewhere and tailored it to our own needs since we’re all different. I’ll just tell you what I know and what I’ve experienced, and you may feel free to do with it as you will. Deal?

The first topic I’d like to discuss is editing. Now, I know I’ve touched on this before, but that was during the editing phase for DUALITY last year, and I’d like to think I can expound upon what was said before.

Editing is vital for anything a writer wants to have published. I’ve had a bit of an adventure reading works by other independent authors, and I cannot stress how very possible it is for an amazingly creative novel to be undermined by the lack of editing. That is certainly not to say that everyone should run out and spend the average going rate for a professional edit. I’m also not trying to put said editors out of business or contribute to a downtick in their cashflow whatsoever. Truth is, there are very few independent authors – particularly those of us just starting out – who can afford the average going rate for a professional edit.

But, that doesn’t mean that your hard work doesn’t deserve as much of an edit as you can provide.

You’ve finished writing a novel. Congratulations! Seriously, congratulations – because most people don’t even get that far and, even if they do, they’re like me and just let the thing sit on their hard drive for a dozen years. I get that it’s a daunting process. But, don’t you think that both you and your masterwork deserve something more than to be banged out and then distributed without another glance?

I had an editor in mind for DUALITY. I read about them, reviewed the testimonials, saw their price points and, while it was a little much for me, I wanted DUALITY to have the best start that it could. Mind you, I started looking at editors well before DUALITY was published. In fact, my search for an editor began after I’d only been writing the novel for roughly two months. I was dedicated to making sure that there’d be enough time to save up for the cost.

In August of 2018, just when DUALITY was in the hands of the beta readers, I went back to the editor’s website because I planned to reach out and start the necessary process so that the book could go from the hands of the beta readers, to mine for the final personal edit, and then to the editor for a professional polish in one seamless sweep. It was then that I saw the price had increased by an amount that there would not have been time to save for (aside from what had already been put aside) in time for me to make my advertised publication date.

I thought about it. I thought for the entire time the beta readers had my book. I thought some more when the book came back to me with critiques, etc…to either incorporate or nix…I thought about it during another personal edit after any changes were implemented. I finally decided to skip the professional edit entirely (I’d have to anyway due to the cost increase) and have a go at it myself.

As a subscriber to Kindle Unlimited, I can say firsthand that there is a trove of offerings with regard to teaching yourself how to edit. Does that mean you can read any number of those books and should go out into the world charging others to edit their work? NO! But, I was able to fortify myself enough to get DUALITY as tight as I could so that it would be ready and I would be satisfied. It was an experiment that has, so far, proven successful because as of this moment no one – not even in private – has come to me to say, “Ooh, girl…there’s a hell of a typo on page…” If anything, as I prepared DUALITY for an updated release (hello, new cover!) I actually noticed some formatting errors that didn’t show in my on-screen version, but instead appeared in the Kindle and paperback versions…and they have been corrected. So, you see, your editing hat never goes away.

I say all that to say this: To tell a writer that he or she shouldn’t skimp doesn’t mean I’m saying to go out and spend money you may not have or would rather not part with just yet on a professional edit. The fact is that most of us are on the former side of that equation. But…you owe it to yourself and to your beautiful baby that you brought into this world for it to be as healthy a baby as you can make it. Study. Learn. Absorb. Apply. It will be a pain in the ass – editing is not fun, especially when it’s your own work and you have an attachment to certain things – but, do the best you can until the time when you’re able to hand it off to someone else without mental or financial worry.

That’s just my two cents. You can save, spend, or toss them – up to you. Next time, I think I’ll discuss Distribution.