Editing: why it’s just not possible to do it all yourself
When deciding to publish your own work independently, you are making a statement.
The whole idea is that the finished product will be entirely your own work, without interference from publishing companies or literary agents who may be pushing their own agendas when commenting on your book.
I have released eighteen novels and with each one I am learning more and more about the publishing process, from editing and proof-reading, to cover design and publicity. It has been a fascinating process and I wouldn’t have done it any other way than independently.
However, despite all the fabulous new skills that you will pick up along the way, it simply isn’t possible to do it all by yourself.
Why? Because no matter how many times you read and re-read your own work, there will be typos and errors that you will miss. I am not suggesting that you always need to employ a professional editor, but you certainly need at least one other set of competent eyes checking over your finished text.
I spend at least a couple of weeks on the editing process. My ‘manuscript’ will come back from my parents who each do an independent read through and provide me with their edits and feedback. I will then make their corrections. After that, I will spend at least another week or so performing several read throughs of the entire novel. Each time I will be looking for something different; for example, the repetition of a word too many times in a chapter or simply good old fashioned typos.
What I have discovered, is that there is no substitute for a fresh set of eyes. By this stage in the process, you will have read through the novel so many times that your brain has learnt to skip past the mistakes – it really requires somebody else to notice these in the final checks.
Then, even when you believe the novel has been as thoroughly edited as you think is humanly possible, sit back and wait.
It is amazing what will suddenly strike you in the days that follow. When re-visiting one of my early novels, I suddenly realised that I had described an entire action scene involving two cars on a winding clifftop road in Italy, as if they were driving on the left hand side. I had to go back to my final draft and make the approriate changes. But I could so easily have let that mistake go to print if I had not taken the time to reflect on my work.
For my next book, I am seriously considering bringing in an outside editor. Someone I know well does it for a living and I am very tempted to employ their services. If the editor is a person you have a connection with, it helps you to keep control of the project and ensure that your story is told in the way you intended it to be.
But take my advice, editing is certainly an area where you should be wary of going solo. Bring in some outside help and your novel will definitely be the better for it.