I used to think I could edit and proofread my books all by myself. Really, I did. After all, I catch errors in other writers’ books all the time. But here’s the thing…you KNOW what you’re trying to say, so if you say it wrong or misspell a word, your mind sees what you MEANT to say or type. Our minds play tricks like that. You should always be the first editor/proofreader of your book and you should be the last. But in the middle, you should have other people looking at your manuscript.
So, what if you can’t afford an editor? Barter for services if you can! This advice actually comes from my friend, Ruth Ann Nordin, a very prolific author. And that’s what I do. I have some very good beta readers who are also great editors and proofreaders. One actually does that in her full time job. I do the same for them, and it’s worked very well for us. And it’s funny how one might catch totally different things than another. In the last book I had them read, there was only one thing that two of them suggested changing, and both of them had a different way of changing it. That’s when you, as an author, have to make the decision. Should you do it your original way, or pick one of the ways the editors suggested? Remember, I said you should be the first and last editor. Ultimately, it’s your book, and you’re going to be responsible for the content.
There are at LEAST four people who look at my books. Two of them are authors (they write in totally different genres), one is an avid reader, and the last one is my mom. Yes, my mom. I have several different people take a look. Now, I know people say not to use relatives or friends because they won’t tell you the truth. Well, my mom will definitely tell me the truth. And the funny thing is, she’s almost 79 years old, and yet she caught an error a professional editor didn’t catch. That’s the beauty of having multiple people look at your books.
I can honestly say that, lately, I’m finding as many or more errors in traditionally published books than in indie published books. The book I’m currently reading is published by a small publisher, so I don’t know what kind of editors they have, but I’m finding multiple errors in the book.
I had a reader call me the other day (we have a professional relationship in my full time job, and she starting reading my books) and I was so happy when she told me she was impressed because she had found no errors in Soul of a Vampire. She told me she had just read a traditionally published, popular book and found several. She was full of praise for how well my book was edited. That made me all kinds of happy. 🙂
So, tell me, do errors pull you out of the story? Does it depend on how many errors there are? I would love to hear from both fellow authors AND readers who don’t write and see if there’s a difference of opinion.