You’d think that, as a professional copywriter and blogger, I’d have adequate skills to proofread and edit my own novel. Wrong. The past few days I’ve been hermited away correcting an embarrassing amount of errors in Inside Evil. Luckily, due to my lack of promoting and poor first two week sales, few people have purchased the book. But, this is a rookie mistake that I won’t make again.
Matters first came to light when my sister bought the book and found a mistake on the FIRST PAGE. Talk about trying to get that first 10% sample correct, I’d failed miserably at the outset. As she read further, I became increasingly concerned over the number of problems she was finding. She’s a medical secretary and very anally retentive about her work lest something strewn with errors be placed in front of a consultant. She was very happy to correct my work, and I was glad to have her input, but it highlighted the vital need to EDIT, PROOFREAD and EDIT again.
Part of the problem with Inside Evil is that it’s been in my head for so many years that I know it off by heart. However, this makes editing and proofreading that bit harder as you’re far more likely to not notice mistakes because, though you think you’re carefully tinkering with each line, you’re actually scanning it.
Hiring an editor
There are various people in self publishing who say that using an editor is an essential requirement for any self publisher. Along with using freelance artists to create stunning and eye capturing covers, proofreaders and editors are essential if you’re to rid as many errors as possible and ensure an enjoyable read not stymied by poor writing skills.
Going it alone
However, editors cost money, and there are other self published authors who attest to editing yourself and not having to fork out hundreds of pounds on a novel which you have no idea how well it will do. Money made off the back of sold novels can be used for hiring professionals down the line for later works, but large expense shouldn’t be made at the outset.
I’d love to have the money to hire an editor, but that option is simply not open to me. However, with my sister’s eagle eye, it has proved that using someone else to look over your manuscript is vital. So too, is taking a break between finishing your novel and the final proofread. I wrote, edited, proofed and finished in one straight line; a probable reason for some mistakes. Taking some time out allows your mind to forget a little, and come back with fresh eyes.
If there’s one thing that you want to get right, it’s the editing. Who can enjoy a story when it’s riddled with mistakes? It’s an embarrassment for the author and it could result in a 1/2 star review which could throw your novel into the pit of never being bought again.
I’ll never make this rookie mistake again, and even if you can’t afford an editor, take a few days break before trying to proof yourself. Read your work aloud, tracing your finger along each line to give you even more of a chance to spot problems. As a minimum, also get someone else unafraid of highlighting every error, to take a look; you’ll be thankful to them in the long run.