With the introduction of hybrid publishing, today’s authors have so much more creative control over their books. They ultimately have the final say on everything from conception to publication, but some fundamentals remain. Professional editing is one of them.
Professional Authors Use Professional Copy Editors
Why do some greenhorn authors resist having their work copy edited by a professional? Perhaps, three underlying reasons are the cause: one, they fear that their work might be stolen if they share it with a stranger prior to publication; two, they fear that the context of their work might be changed during the editing process; and three, they fear the price. Let’s address each of these concerns one at a time.
1. Fear of Copyright Infringement
First and foremost, the chances of anyone having his or her manuscript stolen and published by someone else—particularly an editor—is next to nil; however, writers can give themselves peace of mind by protecting their copyright ahead of time. Doing so will help to alleviate this fear.
2. Fear of Changed Context (Loss of Personal Voice)
It is important to understand that a copy editor’s job is simply to enhance a writer’s story as it is—to offer helpful suggestions that might have been overlooked or not considered at all.
Simple copy improvements:
A second set of eyes will catch those unobvious errors—such as transposed words and letters, punctuation issues, or improper word usage—that an author is simply blind to after reading the same thing over and over again (and that electronic spell checks sometimes miss).
Story development improvements:
Have you ever been trained for a new position by someone who knew the job so well that he or she unconsciously went about many of the details and neglected to discuss them with you? He or she had been doing it for so long themselves that they were unaware of everything they were doing. As a result, you received only part of the information, which made it difficult to follow the entire process from start to finish. In much the same way, writers can sometimes see a scene so vividly in their own minds that, when they transfer it to paper, they unwittingly leave out important details that the reader will need. A good editor will point this out and ask the question, “How exactly did we get from ‘A’ to ‘B’ here?” This type of commentary gives writers an opportunity to go back and fill in the blanks that they didn’t realize existed beforehand. (This is more common than you might realize!)
Professional copy editors work with writers to enhance their stories while keeping the original voice intact, and the smartest and most successful writers all take that advice seriously. It’s important.
3. Fear of the Price of Copy Editing
There is the price of something—and then there is the cost. The price of editing can seem excessive to some. However, you should consider two important things here: the upfront financial investment that ensures a quality, saleable product (the price); or the loss of sales on the back end that stems from an unprofessional product, riddled with errors (the cost). The best writers know the value of a professional copy edit, and they make sure to have it done on every book they publish. The price is worth it because it will reduce unnecessary costs down the road.
Outsource a Copy Editor to Polish a Book
The reality is that self-publishers’ books are competing in the marketplace with trade publishers’ books. Trade (traditional) publishers always have their books professionally edited. Always. This is why they can boast such high quality. If you want your book to stand out from the crowd and represent you as the business professional you truly are, then it’s best to outsource a professional editor. You’ll get the best result if you do.
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