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How to Care for Your Book Baby: Editing the Book

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

I’m not going to lie — editing the book may be even more difficult than actually writing the book. Once you’ve completed your first draft, do not think it is ready to see the light of day. I know I did. I made the mistake of querying agents about publishing before I edited my book, and you guessed it: all rejections. I know editing might seem like a daunting process. You’ve already spent so much time with this book, why would you want to read it over and over again? But the thing is, if you haven’t memorized your book, you’re doing it wrong. Editing is essential for the success of your book, and if you care about your book baby at all, you will take the necessary steps to ensure it is in perfect shape to take on the world. Here is what you need to know about editing:

Self-editing

Before you send your book off to anyone else, edit the book yourself. Having written chapter after chapter without revision, your book is in a very raw state that requires a quick once-over by its author. You can do this on a computer or you can print out your book and make your edits in red pen. I did a mixture of both, but I highly recommend printing out your book. It is a whole different experience when you can hold your words in your hands and physically rearrange pages. The main thing you should be looking for at this stage is plot holes. If you are a plotter (an author who has a detailed outline planned before writing the book), you will probably be able to avoid these. However, if you are a pantser (an author who doesn’t plan much and just lets the book take them where it may), this step is very important. Mainly, you should be checking for overall inconsistencies in the plot. You are the only one who knows the plot of your book inside and out, so while an editor can focus on correcting your grammar or spelling mistakes, they will not know the plot like you do. This is why you must solidify each scene in your book. In this stage, I actually took out whole chapters from my book, rearranged and condensed scenes, and ultimately made sure the flow was engaging and made sense. It took me quite a while to actually go through with this step, about 4 years to be exact. I was so attached to my book the way it was and I couldn’t see it any other way. That is why it is so important to have other eyes on your manuscript. See step two for more on this.

Alpha and Beta Readers

Once you have gone over your first draft yourself, it is ready to be sent off to others, specifically alpha readers and beta readers. Alpha readers are the first to lay eyes on your book other than you. These are usually people that you trust and are close with. For example, my alpha reader was my mom. However, they tend to be biased towards your work, so do not think that you can just let your mom read it and then call it a day. It needs much more work after that. Once your alpha reader has finished your book and left edits, go through these edits and make the necessary changes to your manuscript. I must remind you that you do not need to take every edit they make. Use your own judgment and remember, it is your story. Now you should at least be on your 3rd draft. This manuscript is sent out to beta readers. Beta readers are usually strangers, so you must be more careful about who you send your book out to. Here is what I did:

I have a BookTok account where I market my book. I made a video calling upon beta readers who might be interested in editing my book. Those who were interested filled out a Google Form that I made. I have attached the link so that you can review the form and see what I asked. I made sure to remind the applicants that this was an unpaid position, essentially a favour from one bookworm to another. That being said, if you want to repay your beta readers, you can send them a free copy of your book once it is published out of appreciation for their role in making your book a reality. As beta readers are usually strangers, make sure to add a copyright to your manuscript. Something as simple as Copyright © (YEAR) by (NAME) will suffice. Once you do that, make sure your beta readers can dedicate themselves to this project. I have had beta readers who have edited a chapter of my book and then dropped off the face of the earth; I’ve never heard from them since. This is why it is important to hand-pick a beta team that you trust. I asked questions like “What is your favourite book?” to see who I resonated with best. Other questions I asked were whether they were fluent in English and whether they’ve ever beta read before. Also, make sure to choose people in your target audience. My book is for people aged 8-18, so I had a variety of ages from 15-20 to beta read for me. 

I know your book is now on its 4th draft, but you are not done yet. Now it’s time for a professional to take a look at your book. Please move on to step 3!

 Professional Editor

Before I begin, I’m a university student; I know how difficult it is to balance money. I was very against investing in an editor because of how much it costs. An editor usually costs anywhere from $400-$1000, and considering my book was 110K words, it would probably be on the higher end of that spectrum. But don’t lose hope just yet! There are ways to find an editor for a cheaper rate. However, if you believe that your beta readers did a good enough job and that your book is polished enough for the world, you must trust your instincts. If you do want to find ways that you can hire an editor, please keep reading. Here are 3 ways you can find an editor:

  1. Fiverr: This is the website where I found my editor for only $165! This is an amazing deal considering the length of my book, and I was also given a free trial before I spent anything. My editor read 1000 words for free just to see if I resonated with her edits and editing style. When I did, I let her know I would like to continue working with her. The deal was done through Fiverr. I paid her through the website, so if anything happens, it can hold her accountable. It is very safe and efficient and I highly recommend looking here for an editor.
  2. Upwork: I was also suggested to visit Upwork by a fellow indie author. I did not end up looking at this website because I found Fiverr instead, but it is one of the best ways to find freelance services. I suggest checking both websites out. Remember, you can always get a free sample from more than one editor before settling on the one that suits you best!
  3. BookTok: I know I mention it a lot, but BookTok really has been a saving grace for me. I’ve made friends (authors, readers, editors, and more) from all around the world. If you post a video looking for an editor, make sure you ask for a resume and a sample of their writing and their editing. As they are strangers on the internet, it always pays off to be safe rather than sorry. I did have an offer with an editor on BookTok, but I decided to go with the editor on Fiverr instead because I preferred her editing style.

The moral of the story: take advantage of your options. You are now on the 5th draft of your book and ready for the marketing and publishing stage, which will be addressed in my future articles! And this is all thanks to your team of editors.

My name is Serafina Piasentin and I'm enrolled in English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Windsor. Writing has long since been a passion of mine, and I specialize in fiction and poetry. I have won and been published in numerous short story and poetry contests and have completed a fantasy trilogy. I aspire to be an author and this opportunity with Her Campus allows me to take a step closer to that dream! A bit about me outside of my writing career: I am a lifeguard and I play the piano. I consider myself an ambivert and I love adventures and meeting new people! Feel free to contact me on instagram: @serafinaarose or email me @serafinapiasentin@gmail.com <3 I also have a blog where I post my poems, stories, essays, literary reviews and more! You can find me here: https://serafinaarose.wixsite.com/wordalchemy
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