This blog will touch on the experiences I have as a writer (not to be mistaken for my experience as a writer, i.e. how many books I've written, etc); the pleasure and the pain, the joy and the grief, the satisfaction and the frustration, the magic and the reality - have I left anything out, oh yeah, the rejection, rejection and more rejection, the humiliation and the embarrassment, the jealousy and the resentment - that pretty much covers it, except for why I do it which perhaps I'll realize along the way. Are you totally confused? Good, let's begin.
As an independent, self-published author you could spend thousands of dollars to have your book professionally edited, produced and marketed. Despite what you’ve been told it would not guarantee success, in fact, you’d be lucky if you sold enough books to offset the costs.
Knowing this has made me reluctant to pay for these additional services.
Some would argue that’s the reason I’ve had no success. I’m too cheap to pay for the services of professionals to design my covers and edit my manuscripts.
That’s at least partially true, but I maintain the real reason is I’m still not a good enough writer.
I’ve done a lot of stuff to become a better writer, and it's worked, up to a point. What I need now is someone educated and experienced who knows more about the fundamentals of the craft than I do to make constructive suggestions on how I can move forward.
I need a skilled and credible editor.
With my last three novels, I’ve been fortunate to have three dedicated beta readers who have volunteered to read my manuscripts and found hundreds of typos, spelling mistakes and dropped words. They’ve improved the final product immeasurably and yet even after I incorporate all the corrections I still come across embarrassing errors.
But what’s worse, when preparing The Local Rag, my last full length novel, to submit to a competition, I noticed passages that were awkward and poorly written. They were examples of lazy writing, not digging deep enough, or, not having someone to push me to dig deeper. Someone credible who I trust.
There is a plethora of editing services on the internet from freelancers to large companies that tie in editing with other self-publishing services. For example BookBaby https://www.bookbaby.com/book-editing-services/
Copy editing as defined by BookBaby’s Editing Services site includes “a basic word-by-word edit that addresses grammar, usage, and consistency.”
Line editing according to BB is, “A more intensive structural edit that focuses on the finer aspects of language—the flow of ideas, transition elements, tone, and style,” as well as all the services performed in Copy Editing.
At BookBaby the cost of Copy Editing is $7.00 per page; line editing $10 per page. At 255 pages, it would cost $2250 to have The Local Rag line edited.
To recover that cost, I would have to sell 1,020 copies of the paperback edition or 1607 ebooks.
Well, that isn’t going to happen.
What about a computer program that is inexpensive (preferably free) and would at least eliminate most of the errors that were being missed by my beta readers and repeatedly by me?
ProWritingAid claims to be “your personal writing coach, grammar guru, style editor and writing mentor in one software package.” It also has a free version that allows you to upload articles to a maximum of 500 words.
I tried it and was impressed. I checked out a few others and liked Grammarly as well because it focuses on grammar and punctuation and ease of use.
I experimented by uploading chapters of The Local Rag first into ProWritingAid for style suggestions and mentoring(?) and then taking that version with the changes I made and putting it through Grammarly for one final check for grammar and punctuation.
Not only have these two programs eliminated errors, but ProWritingAid has also prompted me to improve things like passive writing, sticky sentences and shows me where opportunities to show rather than tell.
A year’s subscription to Grammarly cost me USD 139.00. I found 25% off coupon for ProWritingAid to bring my annual fee down to USD 37.50.
I plan to ask my beta readers to comment more on the story, now that they don’t have to worry about what amounts to proofreading. Addressing issues like was the opening compelling, did you find the main character sympathetic, was the dialogue authentic, what parts were boring (bogged down in back-story), what parts were exciting (if any), plot glitches, and overall, how could the story be improved would be illuminating.
Frequently, traditional publishers will release a work of fiction by a famous person. Because of author's fame in other endeavours and the curiosity factor of the public, it’s a guarantee that the books by these first-time authors will make money. I make a point of reading these books to remind myself that even the best editors, the most creative cover designers, and a full-press marketing campaign complete with a book tour can’t make a bad book good.
The most recent example of a "celebrity book" that all the professional services in the world couldn’t save was Crying for the Moon by Mary Walsh, a comic icon in Canada.
The next one likely one will be Full Disclosure, the first novel, a thriller, by the former Chief Justice of Canada, Beverley McLachlin.
You’d think these authors, who have risen to the top of their profession, might have some insights into areas you and I don’t. Maybe they do. But most are long on hubris and short on writing craft and whatever inside information they have isn't worth the effort of reading their book.
I’ll find out if this is the case with McLachlin by and by; I’m number 134 on the list to borrow her book from my local library.
This is the long way of saying editing services, online or provided by a real person, without a doubt will improve your writing. But no matter how much you pay them they can’t make a silk purse out of sow's ear.
I take some consolation in that.
Stay Calm, Be Brave, Watch for the Signs
Website links associated with this blog:
BookBaby Editing Services https://www.bookbaby.com/book-editing-services/
Author's Amazon Page https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU