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View Full Version : Are People Hiring Copy Editors for Kindle Titles? [moved from e-pub]



Bookmama
08-01-2012, 02:01 AM
I was trying to find out what percent (approximately) of digital publishers/writers are hiring copy editors to review/edit their manuscripts before publishing on Kindle (or other digital platforms).

For anyone who hired a copy editor and wants to recommend them, I'd love to get contact info -- either in this thread or via private message.

Thanks in advance.

WildScribe
08-01-2012, 02:03 AM
From what I've seen, the majority of them are not, and it shows. If you'd like to PM me I can give you my credentials - I'm a copy editor. :)

thothguard51
08-01-2012, 03:23 AM
Smart self publishers will hire an editor and a copy editor. But that does not guarantee the book will make back the cost...

If I go SP, I will hire both, and a professional designer. If I go this route, its not going to be about earning back but about making sure my work is the best it can be...

If I go this route...

Bookmama
08-01-2012, 03:47 AM
Thanks Wildscribe. I did PM you.

Other folks, don't be shy to say, No, I didn't hire a copy editor or yes, I did and here is why.

Whether you hired a copy editor or not, if you have a title on Kindle, then you took action to pursue a goal -- pat yourself on the back!

Old Hack
08-01-2012, 12:19 PM
Bookmama, just checking: you do know the difference between an editor, a copy editor, and a proof reader, don't you?

I just wonder why you've asked specifically about copy editing, but not about the other sorts of editor.

Terie
08-01-2012, 01:21 PM
Shouldn't this be in the self-publishing forum? It's a generic question about self-publishing, not a question specific to e-publishing.

It also might get a better response there, since people who self-publish hang out in that forum.

Finally, Bookmama, you might want to show a bit of patience. Waiting less than two hours before asking for more replies is a bit....impatient.

Torgo
08-01-2012, 01:50 PM
To get a novel to the level of polish and correctness to which readers are accustomed, you'll need, as Old Hack says, an editor, a copyeditor, and a proofreader. Ideally these would be three different people.

If you're self-publishing and you are doing your copyedit yourself, expect to publish a book containing continuity errors and grammatical solecisms. (I've edited novels for the trade, but when I wrote one last year I discovered that there are Things I Don't Know About Grammar.)

(A lot of your 99p, £1.99 Kindle publishing is what I think of as neo-pulp - it's the equivalent of the cheaply-produced, lightly-edited, printed-on-crap magazines and paperbacks that used to make up a lot of genre publishing. I'm not knocking pulp - I rather love it, and there were many diamonds in the rough - but the production values were low to keep it cheap. Readers understood and forgave that; I think they generally do the same with a cheap Kindle novel that's riddled with mistakes, but you may find their charity starts to run out when you get closer to a trade price.)

Katallina
08-01-2012, 03:21 PM
This is an issue that I'm deeply torn about.

I'm certain my work could benefit from editing. But editing is a skill that does not come cheap, and considering what it entails that is very understandable. I didn't realize I was going to go this route when I started writing my book. If I had, and I had done my research then, I likely wouldn't be banging my head against my desk over this.

But my novel -- which needs another round of edits from *me* still -- is in the 130,000 word range and the average cost I'm seeing when I look stuff up on Google ranges from $2 - $4 a page (which for the sake of simplicity we'll assume would be 250-300 words). That adds up really quick.

On one hand, I've had people tell me not to beat myself up over it. It's not a question of whether I *care*, but rather whether I can *afford* this. On the other hand, I feel like I have invested in everything to do with this project but the thing that should matter the absolute most: making sure that what I am presenting to the world is the absolute best that it can be. Editing cannot make something that is crap become amazing. But I strongly believe that another set of eyes (or more; as has been pointed out there are different types of editing) can take something that is already "good" and make it, if not great, then at least "better".

I'm not worried about selling a million copies. I know with or without editing that some people will like what I write and some people will despise what I write. But I also know that I have a great story idea and that my characters deserve every advantage I can give them. I feel like I am cheating them, in a sense.

Should you hire an editor? That's something you need to come to terms with for yourself, and if what I'm saying above is any indication, it's not an easy decision. My apologies for turning this around to an extent and making it about me, but I am still in the process of getting my book ready to be published and it seems I am questioning the same thing you are, in a way. I wish I could have been of more assistance.

Good luck! :)

Terie
08-01-2012, 04:36 PM
It's not a question of whether I *care*, but rather whether I can *afford* this.

Maybe the question needs to be 'If I can't afford this, should I do it at all?'

Self-publishing is a business. It's a business where the supplier/vendor also happens to be the business owner. But it's still a business, and to be successful, the business owner needs to make the necessary investments.

Would you hire a carpenter to rebuild your staircase if he couldn't afford to buy (or hire) the right tools for the job?

Would you open a checking account at a bank that set up a tent in the local park because they couldn't afford to rent floorspace?

Would you go to a restaurant that couldn't afford to have a proper dishwasher?

I just can't get my head around the idea that writers expect other people to pay their hard-earned money for a product that the business owner couldn't afford to present properly.

If you believe in your story so much, and if you can't afford to operate your own self-publishing business properly, why not focus on a commercial deal instead?

If you (this is the generic 'you', not directed at anyone specifically in this thread) can't produce a story that's good enough for a commercial publisher to pick up, and if you can't afford to pay for the expertise to bring it up to snuff before publishing it yourself, why in the world would you even think of self-publishing?

Self-publishing is a business, and it must be approached like a business to be successful. If one isn't in a position to run a self-publishing business, they shouldn't try.

Kriven
08-01-2012, 05:09 PM
If all business is run the same, we've just written the obituary of Mr. Innovation.

Sheryl Nantus
08-01-2012, 05:27 PM
If all business is run the same, we've just written the obituary of Mr. Innovation.

I don't understand what you mean by this.

Every business needs investors - people who are willing to put money into the business to get it started.

If you're self-publishing you *are* the investor. You need to put money into decent cover art, editing and promotion in order to do everything that a trade publisher does to produce a high-quality product.

What do you mean by your comment?

Calle Jay
08-01-2012, 06:11 PM
I am a content editor, former graphic designer, and a self-publisher.

I have friends that I work with regularly that are line editors and proofreaders. When the time comes to get my work edited, I barter services.

I might do a cover for one person who line edits and do a content edit for another person who then proofreads for me.

This way we all benefit without going broke.

I do believe that quality books require editing. I've seen many, many good stories (doing acquisitions for a small press occasionally) that were nowhere near close to pub ready.

If you can't afford an editor, work something out in trade. There is nothing written that said self-publishing has to break the bank. I've paid for nothing with cash in the year or so I've been self-pubbing.

Austin Wimberly
08-01-2012, 06:51 PM
I'm self-publishing an eBook very soon, and I hired an editor. In my opinion, this is an absolutely essential step. And don't just hire any editor. Hire a good editor. You want someone with actual editing experience. You want someone who makes their living editing. Find that person, and hire them.

A good editor will be able to see your vision and will focus your story so that the vision within it becomes crystal clear. Yes, they cost money. So do good doctors and good mechanics.

I'm new to all of this, so my post is more anecdotal than hard evidence, but I firmly believe that the author/editor relationship is vital to the novel writing process. I'm working on my next novel now. When it passes the beta readers, I'm going back to my editor even if I have to skip a few meals to pay her.

Al Stevens
08-01-2012, 07:31 PM
I like the barter system, and you don't necessarily have to exchange only editorial services. My editor likes to throw parties. She has a piano player/standup comedian on call. I played music for her husband's funeral. Trade whatever service you can provide. Even editors have lawns to mow, cars to fix, plumbing that leaks, kids that need watching...

Calle Jay
08-01-2012, 08:33 PM
I like the barter system, and you don't necessarily have to exchange only editorial services. My editor likes to throw parties. She has a piano player/standup comedian on call. I played music for her husband's funeral. Trade whatever service you can provide. Even editors have lawns to mow, cars to fix, plumbing that leaks, kids that need watching...

Exactly. I love the barter system. I think too many people depend only on cash and forget that everyone has other skills that are worth something!

J. Tanner
08-01-2012, 08:38 PM
I've not hired an editor, and I don't think it's cost effective for short fiction. My stories went through my crit circle (all published writers) and through the magazine editor where they were originally published. (But 9 of 10 are virtually identical to my first polished draft so I wouldn't be too afraid to skip a magazine editor and direct self-pub.)

I have no personal experience, but I think that system would fall apart for novel length work. Biting the bullet and hiring someone seems to be the best option judging from what most of the reasonably successful self-pubbers are doing. (Or barter if the opportunity presents.)

BillJustBill
08-01-2012, 08:45 PM
Reading a free Kindle novel, the third paragraph:


And the sickening noise of flesh being punctured and bone cracking. Screams followed within seconds; tormented, searing wails of agony that defiled reason; the sounds -- the inhuman sounds associated with the grizzly practice of crucifixion.

And the question: Does the bear at the crucifixion cause you not to notice that your reason has been defiled?

If you're going to self-publish, consider a copy editor.

writerjohnb
08-01-2012, 09:22 PM
I offer free-lance editing on a site called Elance because I feel I'm good enough at editing to a competent job. Why? Because I enjoy editing as much as I enjoy writing, and I feel I can help writers who can't afford a professional edit. My day job is remote monitoring of building control systems and I have a lot of "dead" time when I can write or edit. So I try to pick up work when I'm not working on a novel. It keeps me from being bored. I can pick up a little extra cash, which I then use to promote my novels.

Since I'm not a company, I have no overhead. I charge 1/2 cent per word and I feel my clients and I are both getting a deal at $500 for a 100,000 word novel. And every client has given my services a 5 star review.

Not every writer can afford a professional editor, just like I can't afford a professional to promote my work. But every author should do all they can afford to improve their work, whether they're going to self-publish or query. Poor grammar, spelling, punctuation will turn off an agent even more quickly than they'll turn off a reader who downloaded your Kindle novel.

oldhousejunkie
08-01-2012, 09:49 PM
I didn't hire an editor because I just don't have that kind of money to invest. I was extraordinarily lucky to have beta readers with an editorial eye, so most of the kinks were worked out. I also did a lot of self-editing using the "find and replace" function in Microsoft Word.

But with that being said, my novel went live and a writer friend that I made recently came back and told me that there were numerous missing words also missed commas and hyphens. I was mortified! He very kindly did a full edit for me out of the goodness of his heart.

I have a feeling that he has an inordinately good eye and that most of the stuff he caught would have not been noticed by a regular reader. Nonetheless, I want my work to be as good as it can be. He has since decided to start offering editing services--his contact info is on my Facebook page.

At the very least, you should do a thorough self-edit and then farm it out to a beta reader for content and a beta reader for editing. Good luck!

Bookmama
08-01-2012, 11:16 PM
Bookmama, just checking: you do know the difference between an editor, a copy editor, and a proof reader, don't you?

I just wonder why you've asked specifically about copy editing, but not about the other sorts of editor.

I specified copy editor because my experience hiring people to do copy editing, was that they also considered themselves proof readers -- as in they would view the final proof if you wanted.

And yes, I do understand the idea of an editor focusing on story flow, plot structure, etc, versus copy editor focusing on punctuation, misused words (affect instead of effect), etc.

I singled out copy editor (but would also include proofreading) because I thought it was the step most self-publishers would be most likely to skip.

I did actually feel my post was more appropriate for e-publication, because I think self-publishers of printed books are less likely to skip copy editors for a variety of reasons. I was really interested in people publishing on Kindle and whether they hired a copy editor. That was and is my question.

oaktree
08-01-2012, 11:26 PM
And the question: Does the bear at the crucifixion cause you not to notice that your reason has been defiled?

There are very few things that have ever caused me to spit tea through my nose, but this was one of them.

Terie
08-01-2012, 11:28 PM
I did actually feel my post was more appropriate for e-publication, because I think self-publishers of printed books are less likely to skip copy editors for a variety of reasons. I was really interested in people publishing on Kindle and whether they hired a copy editor. That was and is my question.

E-publishing is a format. The forum for e-publishing is generally concerned with issues related uniquely to e-books, regardless of whether they're self-published or commercially published.

Editing is completely unrelated to the format of the book. Editing is also supplied by commercial e-book publishers, so authors of commercially published e-books don't hire editors at all. That's why your question about hiring editors is more appropriate to the self-publishing forum.

Kriven
08-01-2012, 11:46 PM
If you're self-publishing you *are* the investor. You need to put money into decent cover art, editing and promotion in order to do everything that a trade publisher does to produce a high-quality product.


No, you don't. Not if you're willing to *invest* the time to figure it out yourself.

If all businesses did the exact same thing, what a boring world it'd be.

J. Tanner
08-01-2012, 11:55 PM
I singled out copy editor (but would also include proofreading) because I thought it was the step most self-publishers would be most likely to skip.

From what I've seen, they're more likely to hire a copy editor or proofreader and skip developmental editing by a wide margin.


I did actually feel my post was more appropriate for e-publication, because I think self-publishers of printed books are less likely to skip copy editors for a variety of reasons. I was really interested in people publishing on Kindle and whether they hired a copy editor. That was and is my question.

Self-pub would be the correct forum for that. This forum isn't about self-pub printed books exclusively or even primarily. In fact, I'd guess the majority of the discussion is about self-pub ebooks.

Sheryl Nantus
08-02-2012, 12:12 AM
No, you don't. Not if you're willing to *invest* the time to figure it out yourself.

If all businesses did the exact same thing, what a boring world it'd be.

I'm still trying to figure out your first statement. Now you toss this one in.

Businesses NEED MONEY. You can have all the great ideas you want but you need to put money in to create the business and sustain it.

I don't know what you're talking about but it sounds like you're saying not to bother paying anyone because you can learn it all yourself.

I call a plumber when the pipes get blocked. I call a carpenter if I want good woodwork done. I call a professional when I want something done right.

You can't learn everything. At some point you have to rely on others for their skills and that's worth paying for.

At least that's what I'm getting here. I might be wrong because you're not being too clear, at least not to this old broad.

thothguard51
08-02-2012, 12:52 AM
No, you don't. Not if you're willing to *invest* the time to figure it out yourself.

If all businesses did the exact same thing, what a boring world it'd be.

I know what you mean, but not sure I agree with this as you state above...

What happens if I start my own widget business but don't want to hire a lawyer to write and review business contracts? Do I go back to school for another 4-6 years and put the business on hold?

There are all kinds of reasons to hire professionals to do work that you could otherwise learn to do on your own, if you have the time, if you have the understanding, and if you are willing to take full responsibility for fails of doing it yourself.

Yes, anyone can learn to edit their own work, but that does not mean they can not use a second, or third, opinion from another profession. There is generally a reason there are several types of editors, line editing, copy editing, and proof reader. All three serve different functions.

Tettsuo
08-02-2012, 12:55 AM
I have an editor, a copy editor and about 10 beta readers. I think it's essential to both an editor and a copy editor. Even editors can miss things, particularly when they're checking for content. Even with a copy editor, it's good to have beta readers to give you even more eyeballs reviewing your work for errors.

I think you do your work a disservice when you don't give it the best chance possible to succeed.

Terie
08-02-2012, 01:44 AM
No, you don't. Not if you're willing to *invest* the time to figure it out yourself.

If all businesses did the exact same thing, what a boring world it'd be.

Ahem. Time is money.

If you spend 1,000 hours learning how to do something, at US minimum wage, you spent the equivalent of $7,250. If your actual wage is, say, $15/hour, you spent the equivalent of $15,000 learning that skill. And personally, as someone who's been a professional writer for over 25 years, I'm certain that pretty much no one can reach the level of a professional editor in a mere 1,000 hours.

Gosh. All of the sudden several thousand dollars for a proper edit looks like a bargain, doesn't it? Funny how that works out.

Besides, most writers don't actually want to become professional-level editors. They want to write.

No one is suggesting that all businesses do the exact same thing. I am suggesting that if one wants to succeed in the self-publishing business, one must approach it as a business, not a hobby, not a game, not a whim.

WildScribe
08-02-2012, 02:14 AM
I have a feeling that he has an inordinately good eye and that most of the stuff he caught would have not been noticed by a regular reader.

I'm afraid you may be kidding yourself if you believe that. Even before I began writing or editing professionally I was noting missing words or punctuation in regular trade books, and I don't even read most self-pubbed books anymore because the errors grate on me so much. Or maybe it's simply that I have such an eye that becoming an editor was inevitable...

Still, I wouldn't rely on your readers to skip over mistakes without noticing.

Torgo
08-02-2012, 02:37 AM
I have a feeling that he has an inordinately good eye and that most of the stuff he caught would have not been noticed by a regular reader.

No, here's the thing: an inordinately good eye is one that catches everything. Any given reader will notice some large subset of all the errors in a book - they will notice, say, 90 out of 100. The thing is, the 10 errors they miss will be different for every reader. One reader won't know how speech is punctuated, but will know - and be jealous of - the distinction between envy and jealousy. So you can't regard it as a sort of sliding scale of obscurity of error, with an acceptably high bar being set by your friend's percipience. It doesn't work quite like that.

This is one reason you want as many eyes as you can on your work as possible. I strolled into a colleague's office last year as they were sending off the signed-off cover of a book proof for one of our biggest titles in the year, and had the pleasure of pointing out they'd used 'it's' for 'its'. It seems unbelievable - it'd been past an editor, assistant editor, marketing manager, publisher - but the link they'd missed out on in the haste to get it out to production was the copyeditor, who is paid to spot everything from the most obscure errors to the ones that are so obvious they're weirdly invisible.

If you self-edit your book, or allow someone to copyedit or proof it who does not put bread on their table purely through copyediting or proofing, rest assured that your book will contain errors that readers will notice. The question is: will they complain? I'd say their level of forgiveness diminishes as the cost of your book increases, so I'd advise pricing your books appreciably lower if you're not spending money on trade-level quality control.

Bookmama
08-02-2012, 04:23 AM
...
Finally, Bookmama, you might want to show a bit of patience. Waiting less than two hours before asking for more replies is a bit....impatient.

I meant to convey encouragement for people to chime in, sorry if it came across as impatience. That definitely was not my intention.

Bookmama
08-02-2012, 04:33 AM
Just to chime back in with my own decision on copy editing my Kindle title, I realized that my work is short enough that hiring an editor is a modest upfront cost, so I should do it. I feel for the folks with full-length novels who must make a much more substantial financial commitment -- and no, I don't mind anyone going into their own debate about their work in this thread. I was looking for other people's thoughts, so all are welcome.

thothguard51
08-02-2012, 04:39 AM
Bookmama,

You do understand the difference between a line edit and a copy edit, yes? What about the Proof reader?

merrihiatt
08-02-2012, 08:09 AM
A lot of self-published authors do not have (or ask for) beta readers. I'd venture a guess that many read through their work once and then upload it to Amazon KDP. Poor sales and negative reviews often follow. It's hard enough to self-publish a title when everything is going smoothly, let alone when your title isn't edited, proofed and/or formatted correctly.

Then again, there are popular books that sell well that are in dire need of editing and books that have been edited and proofed that see slim to no sales.

I don't pretend to understand any of it.

Al Stevens
08-02-2012, 07:26 PM
Bookmama, just checking: you do know the difference between an editor, a copy editor, and a proof reader, don't you?


Bookmama,
You do understand the difference between a line edit and a copy edit, yes? What about the Proof reader?

http://www.fictionfixitshop.com/blog/types-of-fiction-editing/

http://www.novelpublicity.com/2011/11/finally-an-answer-heres-the-difference-between-line-copy-and-content-editing/

It depends on who you ask.

Old Hack
08-02-2012, 08:42 PM
You have to ask the right people.

JCGAuthor
08-02-2012, 08:48 PM
I often tell folks that fiction is never really finished, it simply reaches a state of rest.

Still, wading into this debate -- I think if you want to play with the big boys, you have to invest some capital to make that happen. I do know some writers that are excellent at self-editing their own work (Josh Roseman comes to mind), but for the most of us, we simply can't nail all the flaws ourselves.

On my end, I edit the initial draft, then utilize several first readers (one pro writer, two casual readers), consider their feedback, edit again, then send it off to no less than two editors. For my first novel I had edited it about seven times over the course of two years prior to the eventual editor changes, and still made additional changes after that.

For the next novel, I'll pony up even more capital on editing. You only get one shot at making a good first impression with a reader. Why on Earth wouldn't you stack the cards in your favor if you could?

WeaselFire
08-02-2012, 08:53 PM
I gotta say that good beta readers can help cut down the costs somewhat. Some will happily proof and, to a certain extent, provide copy edit suggestions. They don't substitute for a pro, but would help many manuscripts.

That said, I still don't understand why I proof and find spelling errors. Not where the wrong word is substituted correctly spelled, but where "word" is spelled "wrod." Even the spell checking in this forum catches that.

For non-fiction you can add another layer as well -- Technical Editor. Someone who knows the subject that proofs content. This has been the downfall of almost all non-fiction self published titles I've read.

Jeff

Al Stevens
08-02-2012, 09:28 PM
You have to ask the right people.Who, according to the person you ask, is the person you ask.

juniper
08-02-2012, 10:05 PM
Who, according to the person you ask, is the person you ask.

I asked about this a while back, in the AW editing forum. Here's the link:

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=228028

Al Stevens
08-02-2012, 10:38 PM
Thanks for the link. Old Hack's explanation matches my experience too with a couple additions.

Old Hack
08-02-2012, 10:39 PM
Who, according to the person you ask, is the person you ask.

But the vessel with the pestle has the spell that is true.

Heh.

The pages that you linked to, Al, contained a few points which made me go "huh?"

Perhaps we need some sort of accepted definition to use here, so that we all know what we're talking about.

ETA: Thank you for the link, juniper. You beat me to it.

Torgo
08-02-2012, 10:41 PM
But the vessel with the pestle has the spell that is true.

Heh.

The pages that you linked to, Al, contained a few points which made me go "huh?"

Perhaps we need some sort of accepted definition to use here, so that we all know what we're talking about.

It'd be the first accepted definition of editorial roles that I've ever encountered! This is why every time I hire a freelancer I need to spend an hour or so briefing them.

Al Stevens
08-02-2012, 10:43 PM
The pages that you linked to, Al, contained a few points which made me go "huh?"

Me too, but I wasn't going to question them since my experience is with trade technical books. And it does tend to indicate that there is not consensus in the industry.



Perhaps we need some sort of accepted definition to use here, so that we all know what we're talking about.

You're elected. :) I'd like to see it open for discussion. And sticky too.

Old Hack
08-02-2012, 11:17 PM
I like a democracy.

I've stickied the linked-to thread. If it proves useful I'll leave it stickied. Easy!

juliatheswede
12-06-2012, 08:09 AM
I'm coming in very late to this thread, which I found very useful as I'm considering self-publishing a book and probably will end up using at least one professional editor. The tip about trading was great!

However, I just want to sound off about 50 Shades of Grey, which I'm sure most have heard of. I read part of the first book in the series, but then I stopped because the writing/story wasn't my cup of tea. Other than that, it seems it wasn't professionally edited at all, probably only proofread and maybe copy edited. Still, many people absolutely loved these books and had no problem with the poor editing. When I ask some of my friends who loved it, they say they don't really care much about if it's well written or not, meaning errors and such. As long as it's readable and the story is compelling, they'll continue. I also followed the amazon reviews for these books and it seems many people agree with this statement. Considering this example, I can't help but wonder just how important an editor is. I know it got LOTS of media attention, but the fact of the matter is that this book got so big via word of mouth at first. I can only imagine the editing was even worse then. I didn't see the Twilight similarities at all, so I don't think this was why it became so big.

I have a personal experience with self-publishing. I self-published my memoir Confessions of a Serial Egg Donor eight years ago. I did use a "copy-editor"--he wasn't really a professional--but really I could have used more editing, especially since my writing has improved considerably since then. Still, I have sold close to 1,500 paper copies of this book, some to universities that keep reordering. While I personally feel it's badly written, a couple of my professional writer friends who've read it--and ARE HONEST with me--told me they thought the writing was okay.

The two things I do regret very much with this memoir is the cover that actually is designed by a professional but still could have been a lot more commercial and pitching it as an "expose." It seems people expect a "drier" delivery because of these two errors. It's really more of an off-beat coming of age tale that was once optioned as a musical. Nothing ever came out of the musical, but I was paid three thousand dollars for the option. So I have long since made my money back on this book and more.

If interested, you can check out the book on the link below.

Just my two cents.

bearilou
12-06-2012, 05:22 PM
As long as it's readable and the story is compelling, they'll continue.

The downside to this is if the story isn't compelling, not only with the story get trashed, they'll pick apart the editing as well. Readers can be forgiving, yes, but I think it's really dangerous to count on that.


I also followed the amazon reviews for these books and it seems many people agree with this statement. Considering this example, I can't help but wonder just how important an editor is.

:Wha: I...um...think I'm going to let someone else field this one.

juliatheswede
12-06-2012, 05:34 PM
I personally think using at least one good editor is crucial as I want to make my book as good as possible if I decide to self-publish. Still, the 50 Shades phenomena is an interesting case study. So, please, others with lots of experience, please do sound off. By the way--and please forgive me EL James--but the books would have benefited greatly from an editor who could have trimmed them down to one book. I believe that would be a developmental or content editor. In other words, the story even when it was published by a major publishing house seemed not to have received this treatment. But again, the readers didn't care.

LBlankenship
12-06-2012, 05:44 PM
I guess I'll throw in my data... yes, I hired an editor/copy editor. Debra Doyle. I also had six excellent beta readers and a proofreader willing to work for free.

Having read through the discussion, I don't think I can say any more without getting into trouble for snarking. I did what I could, held myself to the highest standards I could, and I paid for it the only way I had available.

Barbara R.
12-06-2012, 05:53 PM
This is an issue that I'm deeply torn about.

I'm certain my work could benefit from editing. But editing is a skill that does not come cheap, and considering what it entails that is very understandable. I didn't realize I was going to go this route when I started writing my book. If I had, and I had done my research then, I likely wouldn't be banging my head against my desk over this.

But my novel -- which needs another round of edits from *me* still -- is in the 130,000 word range and the average cost I'm seeing when I look stuff up on Google ranges from $2 - $4 a page (which for the sake of simplicity we'll assume would be 250-300 words). That adds up really quick.


Good editing is indeed expensive. $2-3 a page would be very cheap, and I suspect that refers to copy-editing alone, or proof-reading alone. A real editor who does content editing as well as copy-editing could easily charge $10 a page, and this is money that most self-published writers will never recoup from sales. If you're interested, I break down the economics of hiring an editor in this post (http://barbararogan.com/blog/?p=256).

The main value of editing, IMO, lies in what it teaches the writer. Every artist learns through smart, objective feedback. Beta readers can be helpful , but itís not at all like feedback from a professional editor with professional standards.Still, it's an expensive tutorial. Another possibility is investing in a good writing/revising course, which would give you feedback on the book itself but also teach you important revision skills. With your book weighing in at 130K words, that might be a useful alternative.

juliatheswede
12-06-2012, 10:26 PM
I really liked your blog post, Barbara. I also love the cover of your book. I couldn't find it on Amazon. Is it not out yet?

juliatheswede
12-07-2012, 02:32 AM
Barbara, I see now the book is coming out in 2013. Good luck and I really like your blog!

absitinvidia
12-07-2012, 03:30 AM
Something I've noticed re: terminology. A lot of self-pubbed authors use "proofread" to mean a review of the manuscript to look for typos and the like, without understanding that a proofread in the context of publishing refers specifically to reviewing the book once it's been typeset/formatted for publishing. I'm amazed how many people seem to conflate beta reading with proofreading because they occur at opposite ends of the process.

Polenth
12-07-2012, 05:44 AM
I'm not paying anyone to edit my short story collection, though I do have two people lined up who'll go through it. One looking at bigger story issues and one looking for errors (spelling/grammar, continuity, etc.)

Plus, some of the stories were edited when I sold them the first time (so in essence, I got paid to let someone edit my work). My second checker will get these along with everything else, in case there are any typos or the like. No story editing on the previously published ones though.

juliatheswede
12-07-2012, 06:46 AM
Something I've noticed re: terminology. A lot of self-pubbed authors use "proofread" to mean a review of the manuscript to look for typos and the like, without understanding that a proofread in the context of publishing refers specifically to reviewing the book once it's been typeset/formatted for publishing. I'm amazed how many people seem to conflate beta reading with proofreading because they occur at opposite ends of the process.

So then what is proofreading according to you? Are you saying that the typesetter might screw up and add typos?

LBlankenship
12-07-2012, 07:21 AM
So then what is proofreading according to you? Are you saying that the typesetter might screw up and add typos?

Proofreading includes checking the formatting of a manuscript laid out for printing -- the position of the headers, the art placement, any pull quotes, the formatting of everything. It's done with a pica ruler and the designer's instructions printed out beside you.

And we check that any text edits marked by the editor have been correctly done.

That's what it meant when I was trained back in the early 90s. It was already starting to shift, even then. People were starting to think anybody who could read English could proofread -- you know, just like anyone can write a novel.

Nowadays, it seems to just mean checking for typos and punctuation.

Old Hack
12-07-2012, 02:44 PM
So then what is proofreading according to you? Are you saying that the typesetter might screw up and add typos?

Julia, I'm sure you didn't mean to sound snarky there: it's hard to get the tone right online, sometimes, isn't it?

"Proof reading" involves reading proofs, and checking them with a view to catching those last few errors. Proof copies are made after a book has been revised by its author, edited, copy edited, designed, and typeset: then a few copies are printed (assuming it's a print edition) to use as proof copies.

I explained my meaning of the term in greater detail here (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=228028), as linked to earlier in this thread.

What do you understand "proof reading" to mean?

Barbara R.
12-07-2012, 04:31 PM
Barbara, I see now the book is coming out in 2013. Good luck and I really like your blog!

Thanks, it's really good to hear that. And yes, the book will be out in July 2013, but I love Viking's cover so much I couldn't resist using it already.

juliatheswede
12-07-2012, 05:55 PM
Julia, I'm sure you didn't mean to sound snarky there: it's hard to get the tone right online, sometimes, isn't it?

"Proof reading" involves reading proofs, and checking them with a view to catching those last few errors. Proof copies are made after a book has been revised by its author, edited, copy edited, designed, and typeset: then a few copies are printed (assuming it's a print edition) to use as proof copies.

I explained my meaning of the term in greater detail here (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=228028), as linked to earlier in this thread.

What do you understand "proof reading" to mean?


Yes, I definitely did not mean to sound snarky. Sorry if I offended anyone. Thanks for explanations by both you and LBlankenship. I was sure it meant just checking for any errors--grammar, punctuation, typos--right before sending it out to be printed. Now that I think about it, I remember I or someone else proofread my first self-published book after the book was typeset for printing. But I'm pretty sure no one measured borders and such. I'm kind of hoping that the e-book services that offer self-publishing make sure that the typeset (or isn't it formatted for e-books?) ends up exactly the way it was typeset/formatted, meaning, the technology has advanced to such a degree these things are "automatic."

juliatheswede
12-07-2012, 06:15 PM
Something I've noticed re: terminology. A lot of self-pubbed authors use "proofread" to mean a review of the manuscript to look for typos and the like, without understanding that a proofread in the context of publishing refers specifically to reviewing the book once it's been typeset/formatted for publishing. I'm amazed how many people seem to conflate beta reading with proofreading because they occur at opposite ends of the process.

Hi Absitinvidia,

sorry if I sounded snarky in my response to your post. I didn't mean to. To tell you the truth, I had just had a couple of glasses of wine and my judgment isn't the best then :) Just wanted to add that I'm surprised to hear that anyone would bother to proofread before copy editing and content editing--the final version of the manuscript--have been done. (Though, some betas are really good with copy editing and content editing.) It seems like a waste of time. Of course, in defense of those who believe that proofreading can occur during the beta reading phase, I don't see anything wrong with that, assuming the manuscript is in very good shape already. I have found some people are able to look for content as well as proofread at the same time (though a final proofread would have to occur before the print). I realize I'm kind of contradicting myself here. What I meant is that in most cases, during the beta read phase, a manuscript isn't in near perfect shape, at least not most I've beta'd.

absitinvidia
12-08-2012, 03:07 AM
Hi Absitinvidia,

sorry if I sounded snarky in my response to your post. I didn't mean to. To tell you the truth, I had just had a couple of glasses of wine and my judgment isn't the best then :) Just wanted to add that I'm surprised to hear that anyone would bother to proofread before copy editing and content editing--the final version of the manuscript--have been done. (Though, some betas are really good with copy editing and content editing.) It seems like a waste of time. Of course, in defense of those who believe that proofreading can occur during the beta reading phase, I don't see anything wrong with that, assuming the manuscript is in very good shape already. I have found some people are able to look for content as well as proofread at the same time (though a final proofread would have to occur before the print). I realize I'm kind of contradicting myself here. What I meant is that in most cases, during the beta read phase, a manuscript isn't in near perfect shape, at least not most I've beta'd.


No worries.

But in response to your original question: Yes. Sometimes the typesetter/compositor does introduce new errors into a manuscript, whether it's an error in the front/back matter or running page headers. Sometimes it's a formatting error, but with print publishing it can also happen if the typesetter/compositor is also responsible for entering copy-editing changes (and the proofreader will typically compare the typeset page against the copy-edited page to make sure the changes have been entered correctly).

But a lot of new-to-publishing writers will use "proofread" to mean "a beta reader who looks specifically for typos" without understanding that this is more of a very light copy edit, not an actual proofread.

OliverCrown
02-14-2013, 09:26 PM
Speaking as someone else who is coming into this waaaaaay late..!

First, I wish to thank you for this thread. It's helped me make a decison or two. I released a book without the editing...primarily to actually get it out and finished. This certainly sounds silly to most, but after trying to write this thing several times I *personally needed* a hard deadline. My initial release was a free book for five days...mostly to get it out to my friends.

Now that I'm working on the second novel I'm trying to hire a copy editor. Like many self-pubs/Kindle folks out there, it was a case of money. So to reply to the topic - I didn't use one at first, but would like to.

So again, thank you for the thread. If folks are interested I'd be more than happy to let you know how it goes. I have a quote from one edit source already; two more requests are still out there.

Be well & happy writing,
Oliver Crown

Old Hack
02-14-2013, 11:37 PM
Now that I'm working on the second novel I'm trying to hire a copy editor.

Why are you specifically interested in hiring a copy editor, Oliver? Why not a developmental editor, for example?

OliverCrown
02-15-2013, 01:31 AM
Why are you specifically interested in hiring a copy editor, Oliver? Why not a developmental editor, for example?

Simply put: Money.

With what my beta readers have pointed out about the first book - I've got about 107k words of nothing but plot. I was too vague in my descriptions - an overcorrection based on advice I'd recieved earlier - and when I did my edits I tried to remove anything that wasn't *vital* to the story.

One friend said that the book should have been a trilogy, just due to the massive amount of things going on in the book. Lots of stuff that hits you fast, and it keeps coming! That's something I may not be flexible enough on.

While I know I could benefit from a developmental editor, the first thing that holds me back from getting one is cost. The second one is schedule; it's not odd for me to put down 8-10k a day (personal record so far being 12,387 words in 9 hours of work) and it's difficult to have an editor that can keep up with that pace.

Suggestions are certainly welcome; I'm all for feedback. Each bit of feedback is a chance for me to learn.

Old Hack
02-15-2013, 01:50 AM
Simply put: Money.

With what my beta readers have pointed out about the first book - I've got about 107k words of nothing but plot. I was too vague in my descriptions - an overcorrection based on advice I'd recieved earlier - and when I did my edits I tried to remove anything that wasn't *vital* to the story.

One friend said that the book should have been a trilogy, just due to the massive amount of things going on in the book. Lots of stuff that hits you fast, and it keeps coming! That's something I may not be flexible enough on.

While I know I could benefit from a developmental editor, the first thing that holds me back from getting one is cost. The second one is schedule; it's not odd for me to put down 8-10k a day (personal record so far being 12,387 words in 9 hours of work) and it's difficult to have an editor that can keep up with that pace.

Suggestions are certainly welcome; I'm all for feedback. Each bit of feedback is a chance for me to learn.

None of this answers my question, but it does show that you don't fully understand how editors work, or what they do.

The problems you describe would not be corrected by a copy editor and if they're as entrenched in your work as you suggest, my guess is that you're not yet ready to publish.

How many words you write each day has nothing to do with what sort of editor you should employ. Editors don't work alongside you as you produce your daily word-count: they work on your completed and revised work and help you improve it.

You can copy edit a text all you like, and make it as clean as a whistle; but if your plot is full of holes and your characters aren't believable, it's going to make a very poor read.

You might think you can't afford a good editor, but I don't think writers can afford to publish without one. If you publish unedited works you'll be short-changing your readers. You know, the people who support publishing. That's a really bad idea.

J. Tanner
02-15-2013, 05:12 AM
While I know I could benefit from a developmental editor, the first thing that holds me back from getting one is cost. The second one is schedule; it's not odd for me to put down 8-10k a day (personal record so far being 12,387 words in 9 hours of work) and it's difficult to have an editor that can keep up with that pace.

As Old Hack mentioned, the schedule bit doesn't make a lick of sense. Here's a more typical process (though it varies considerably from person to person):

1. Write your first draft from beginning to end. Avoid heavy revision. Get the story on paper.
2. Get some distance--a few weeks, a month. Research, outline, or start to write your next story. (It's not all that unusual to skip right to 3.)
3. Reread and revise your first draft. Get it as ship shape as you can manage on your own. (It's not all that unsual to repeat this step many times though I think getting down to two drafts is ideal for most writers.)
4. Send it to your editor. While they have it, get back to work on #2.
5. Create the final draft based on your editor's suggestions. (If you use more than one type of editor, repeat #4 and #5.)
6. Send out the final draft to BETA readers and/or a paid "proofreader" (misnomer for ebooks, but that's what self-publishers are calling them) to clean up any obvious typos and grammatical stuff.

I took a leap and assumed your alias here is your byline and found a book on Amazon that seemed like it's probably yours. I read a few pages.

While you have a few punctuation issues, I only noticed reletively minor stuff. It was not prose salad like some self-pub stuff I've looked it that needed an extensive copy edit. :) Easily learnable and self-correctable items here. So, considering your friends' comments and your limited resources, and having to choose, I might recommend a developmental editor as a better fit for you than a copy-editor. (There are also editors out there that are sort of a hybrid of the two.)

Good luck with it.

OliverCrown
02-15-2013, 05:13 AM
You might think you can't afford a good editor, but I don't think writers can afford to publish without one. If you publish unedited works you'll be short-changing your readers. You know, the people who support publishing. That's a really bad idea.

Thank you for the feedback!

Just so I understand you correctly, are you saying that only those who can afford these expenses should publish?

I'm definitely going to take everything you said and try to internalize it.

OliverCrown
02-15-2013, 05:20 AM
As Old Hack mentioned, the schedule bit doesn't make a lick of sense. Here's a more typical process (though it varies considerably from person to person):

1. Write your first draft from beginning to end. Avoid heavy revision. Get the story on paper.
2. Get some distance--a few weeks, a month. Research, outline, or start to write your next story. (It's not all that unusual to skip right to 3.)
3. Reread and revise your first draft. Get it as ship shape as you can manage on your own. (It's not all that unsual to repeat this step many times though I think getting down to two drafts is ideal for most writers.)
4. Send it to your editor. While they have it, get back to work on #2.
5. Create the final draft based on your editor's suggestions. (If you use more than one type of editor, repeat #4 and #5.)
6. Send out the final draft to BETA readers and/or a paid "proofreader" (misnomer for ebooks, but that's what self-publishers are calling them) to clean up any obvious typos and grammatical stuff.

I took a leap and assumed your alias here is your byline and found a book on Amazon that seemed like it's probably yours. I read a few pages.

While you have a few punctuation issues, I only noticed reletively minor stuff. It was not prose salad like some self-pub stuff I've looked it that needed an extensive copy edit. :) Easily learnable and self-correctable items here. So, considering your friends' comments and your limited resources, and having to choose, I might recommend a developmental editor as a better fit for you than a copy-editor. (There are also editors out there that are sort of a hybrid of the two.)

Good luck with it.

All I can say is THANK YOU!

The most encouraging things I feel, from my first published work that didn't come off a photocopier, is my mistakes and shortcomings are largely items that can be fixed.

That said, I have a lot to learn.

Old Hack
02-15-2013, 10:50 AM
Just so I understand you correctly, are you saying that only those who can afford these expenses should publish?

I'm saying that if you don't have your book edited appropriately you are almost certainly selling a substandard product, and cheating the people who pay their good money for it.

I prefer to have more respect for my readers.

One of our members self-published without editing and is currently regretting it. I see you've found that thread.

If you can't afford to self publish well, then wait until you can. You'll be pleased in the long run.

J. Tanner
02-15-2013, 12:14 PM
I'm saying that if you don't have your book edited appropriately you are almost certainly selling a substandard product, and cheating the people who pay their good money for it.

Without trying to box you into any sort of absolutes, do you think that the best choice for most self-publishers is to try to emulate the trade publishing developmental, copyedit, final pass sequence or do you think that the appropriate amount is just too variable from writer to writer to make any explicit recommendation?

(I see a lot of regret in both both directions. People who didn't get enough editing lamenting it, but also writers who spent a ton on editing and are still getting lambasted by readers. Did they get a bad editor, or was the decent editor trying to polish a turd? It's such gray area... But it feels too old fogey-ish to say everyone should collect a zillion rejections as you built your skills like in the "good old days".)

MaggieDana
02-15-2013, 07:39 PM
It's such gray area... But it feels too old fogey-ish to say everyone should collect a zillion rejections as you built your skills like in the "good old days".)
Count me in the old-fogey camp. I've kicked around the publishing industry for 30+ years, have received a boatload of rejections (from agents and editors), sold several books to major publishers, and am eternally grateful for all that I've learned along the way.

At the moment, I'm DIY-ing a series of books for horse-crazy kids and despite all my experience, I wouldn't dream of unleashing my books without having them thoroughly edited and proofed.

Old Hack
02-15-2013, 08:28 PM
Rant alert. Brace yourself.

The reason that trade publishers follow the "structural edit / copy edit / proof read" route is that it's been shown over and over again to work. It produces the cleanest copy possible.

In some areas, however, such as book packaging, those three passes are increasingly often reduced to two, to save money. Such savings come at a cost, and the cost is that the text won't be as clean as it could be. This is regrettable: but to be frank, sometimes the end product doesn't merit the extra costs which would be involved in such meticulous editing.

Whether or not self publishers should try to emulate the editing processes of trade publishers is another thing entirely.

Self publishers often complain that their endeavours are somehow stigmatised, or looked down upon, by trade publishing and those involved in it. From my experience, many self published books deserve this stigma. Most of the self published books I've seen were sloppily written, poorly edited, and badly designed. I don't spot these problems because I'm particularly meticulous: I spot them because they're bad enough to significantly interfere with my reading experience. Other readers are going to experience that same interference, and they'll often remark on it in their reviews.

If the people who self published the books I've seen had employed better editors or designers, their books would have been hugely improved.

However, there are two problems here.

The first is that with all due respect to the self publishers concerned, some of them--most of them, I'm afraid--just aren't good enough writers to make this worthwhile. You can polish bad writing all you like: you just end up with clean text which is still badly written. I won't encourage writers with no talent to spend money editing their bad work. I will encourage them to improve their craft, but that's a whole different thing; and I would definitely advise them to not publish work that's not yet well-written enough.

The second problem is that there are so many people out there offering poor-quality editing and production services to self publishers, and writers who haven't worked with good editors and so on are unlikely to realise that they're not getting value for money. This effects good writers as well as bad, and it makes me mad. The editing I've seen from iUniverse, for example, is not good.

If writers spent more time working on their craft they might be more aware of how to improve their work. But most of the focus now seems to be on how to upload work to KDP, where to price the books, and so on, and not on becoming a better writer.

In my view this is not good for writers, or for readers. The only group doing really well out of this is the companies which offer such services to aspiring writers. And they're doing really well indeed.

How do you think things should be done, or could be improved?

Celeste Carrara
02-15-2013, 08:43 PM
OldHack is absolutely right!!

I'm the self published writer who is now regretting not getting my book properly edited before pressing submit!

My issue was, I needed my work to be proof read and copy edited. I had beta's, had a developmental editor who worked for free (which luckily did work out well) but I dropped the ball after that. I thought I would be able to catch the errors with spelling or punctuation myself. I was so wrong! Then, when I did get a copy editor, I took the cheap way out and used a family member that use to do it for a living and did me a favor for free. You get what you pay for.

My advice, if you are a self published author and are working on a tight budget, use beta's, as many as you can, for the developmental stuff. But, please spend the money on having a professional copy edit and/or proof read your work. I wish I would have done that!

Now, I have hired a professional and will pay what I now feel is a small price to clean up my mistakes. It's worth it to pay to have the best product out there for your readers. They deserve it.

J. Tanner
02-15-2013, 09:07 PM
It's a tough one. I don't pretend to have any sort of general answer about how much editing is "enough."

On the one hand, I don't have a problem with people publishing somewhat raw material. And on the other, we get a mountain of truly non-even-close material along with it that I wish those authors hadn't published.

I mean, it's not uncommon to find an obvious error in the first sentence, let alone the first page, and sometimes that's on material that was supposed to have been edited.

Trying to boil it down to some general truths:

1.) Having a paying reader being the first stranger to assess your writing is not a good idea, particulary at the earlier stages of your development as a writer, and critically if you're publishing your first work. Find some sort of feedback system--critique group, beta readers, submit to trade publishers or agents, something---and use it to learn your craft, and find your weak points. Don't rush. Don't think you're special.

2.) You need editing. It's up to you to use 1) to such an extent that you can make an informed decision about exactly how much you need. This is your responsibility as a self-publisher, and a failure to make an unbiased, clinical decision in this regard is disrespecful to your potential (and actual!) readers.

Thinking beyond the writer for a moment, I wish the major online stores had a small fee attached to their self-publishing platforms. And a yearly renewal. Just $10 or something. Enough to discourage the "upload 10 books a day skimmed from Wikipedia" crowd in the first place, and then filter out all the stuff that sells truly nothing with the renewal fee after a time.

EDIT: I didn't find your post particularly ranty. Up your game! ;)

rac
02-15-2013, 09:08 PM
I'm saying that if you don't have your book edited appropriately you are almost certainly selling a substandard product, and cheating the people who pay their good money for it.

I prefer to have more respect for my readers.

One of our members self-published without editing and is currently regretting it. I see you've found that thread.

If you can't afford to self publish well, then wait until you can. You'll be pleased in the long run.

I've come to this thread late and have read it with some amazement. I can't understand why anyone would want to put their real name on a book that wasn't properly edited and proofread. It just doesn't make sense to me. It's true that junk like "Fifty Shades..." has made a veritable fortune for the author, but that happens rarely. Most of the time books that are well-crafted are the ones that are successful.

Editorial services are expensive, but if you believe in yourself then invest in yourself. You're worth it! Get the work done by a good professional or find someone with whom you can barter, as others have suggested.

Although this observation isn't quote on topic, I have been finding grammatical errors and typos more frequently in books published by the Big Six. It's made me wonder if the whole business isn't sliding downhill.

Old Hack
02-15-2013, 10:16 PM
OldHack is absolutely right!!

I'm the self published writer who is now regretting not getting my book properly edited before pressing submit!

Celeste, I hope you don't think I was taking a poke at you in my comments above: that wasn't my intention at all. For the record I've taken a look at the sample of a couple of your Kindle books and agree that they do need work: but they're nowhere near the worst I've read, and even if they were, I commend you for recognising that you have to improve them. I wish more self publishers did this.


I didn't find your post particularly ranty. Up your game! ;)

I'm sorry, Mr Tanner. I'm slipping!


It's true that junk like "Fifty Shades..." has made a veritable fortune for the author, but that happens rarely. Most of the time books that are well-crafted are the ones that are successful.

Fifty Shades might not be to your taste, but it's not appropriate to say that it's poorly-crafted "junk". If it were, it wouldn't have been as successful as it is; and while you're entitled to not like it, it seems wrong to me to dismiss it so casually when so many hundreds of thousands of readers (or is it millions by now?) have spent their money buying it and its sequels.


Although this observation isn't quote on topic, I have been finding grammatical errors and typos more frequently in books published by the Big Six. It's made me wonder if the whole business isn't sliding downhill.

I've seen problems in books from trade publishers too (and there are far more trade publishers than just the big six, by the way). But those problems are usually of a relatively minor nature and are far less frequent than the problems I find in self published books, which usually contain major errors of several different kinds. The two are not comparable.

And to suggest that the problems you've found imply that trade publishing is "sliding downhill" is a rather larger leap of logic than I'm prepared to accept.

OliverCrown
02-15-2013, 10:34 PM
Shared this thread with a few friends, and got a few reactions.

Most agree that an editor is the way to go...in fact all of them felt that way. But most of them felt that if they were an aspiring author with little or no funds they would come away feeling that most in this thread are pretty unsympathetic to the financially strapped.

One put it as "they feel that being poor is God's way of telling you that you shouldn't be published."

Harsh, but I see the point of view.


What would you suggest I reply to them with? One of them is a self-published author himself.

Sheryl Nantus
02-15-2013, 10:39 PM
On the one hand, I don't have a problem with people publishing somewhat raw material.


I do.

Whether I'm putting down a buck or a ten-spot I expect to get a well-crafted, finished product. Not someone's verbal spit-up that they're going to edit over and over again when they get the time, expecting me to be interested in re-reading it every time.

When I buy a book I expect to get the final product. I don't want to have to hunt down extra chapters, revised endings, tweaked grammar or follow down notes on editing.

Why would I want to?

If you're not going to give me the best you have why would I be interested in reading it, or anything else with your name on it?

Be proud of your writing and deliver the best you can to your readers. That means editing, editing, copy editing, cover art and all the bells and whistles if you choose to self-pub.

jmo, ymmv.

Torgo
02-15-2013, 10:41 PM
Shared this thread with a few friends, and got a few reactions.

Most agree that an editor is the way to go...in fact all of them felt that way. But most of them felt that if they were an aspiring author with little or no funds they would come away feeling that most in this thread are pretty unsympathetic to the financially strapped.

One put it as "they feel that being poor is God's way of telling you that you shouldn't be published."

Harsh, but I see the point of view.


What would you suggest I reply to them with? One of them is a self-published author himself.

Being poor is probably an indication that you shouldn't set up a publishing company and expect to be able to compete with trade publishers. It doesn't mean you can't be published by someone else who believes in your work enough to spend their own money on it.

Sheryl Nantus
02-15-2013, 10:56 PM
I'm poor.

I found myself not one publisher, but two who thought my work had merit and worked with me to put out an excellent product.

*points at covers below*

They're looking for new authors. All publishers are. You just need to be GOOD ENOUGH to be published.

No one owes you the right to be published.

You have to work for it.

Old Hack
02-15-2013, 11:05 PM
No one has a right to be published; but people who spend their hard-earned cash on our books do deserve to get good value for their money.

If you can't afford to self publish well, then either don't do it or accept that you're putting out a substandard book and are going to be ripping off the people who buy it--who are the very people you hope will buy your next book and your next.

If you want to build a fanbase and establish yourself, this does not seem like a sensible way to proceed.

If you can't afford to self-publish well but still want to publish then as others have said, it doesn't cost anything to get a trade publishing deal. All you need is a really good book.

And yes, when I buy a book I expect it to be a finished product. I expect it to be finished, revised, and edited. People who argue that books don't need to be edited or revised before they're put on sale might just as well say that they don't need to be finished either, as far as I'm concerned.

OliverCrown
02-15-2013, 11:16 PM
I'm poor.

I found myself not one publisher, but two who thought my work had merit and worked with me to put out an excellent product.

*points at covers below*

They're looking for new authors. All publishers are. You just need to be GOOD ENOUGH to be published.

No one owes you the right to be published.

You hae to work for it.

That's just the kind of post I was looking for.

Thank you!

J. Tanner
02-16-2013, 12:21 AM
I do.

Whether I'm putting down a buck or a ten-spot I expect to get a well-crafted, finished product. Not someone's verbal spit-up that they're going to edit over and over again when they get the time, expecting me to be interested in re-reading it every time.

Well, you've equated my definition of "somewhat raw" with "someone's verbal spit-up" which I would more likely equate with the sentence following the one you quoted.

David Wong's "John Dies at the End" was something I consider "somewhat raw" and it was hilarious, and wonderful and weird. Hugh Howey's "Wool" is polished enough that it's hard to call it raw (beyond one unintentionally funny bit of phrasing that an editor surely should have caught) but it falls into that category of self published work with limited editing if my memory of Hugh's process is accurate. I could list many more that I'm quite happy exist despite not matching trade publishing's editing standards upon their initial release and then we could move on to many others that I don't personally like or haven't read that have garnered large followings. (50 Shades would fall in the "haven't read" group.)

Would I want to sacrifice those to eliminate the mountain of "verbal spit-up" that comes along with them? Personally, I would not, but I'm not zealotly opposed to those who disagree. I don't think there's objective right or wrong to be found here.

rac
02-16-2013, 01:14 AM
Fifty Shades might not be to your taste, but it's not appropriate to say that it's poorly-crafted "junk". If it were, it wouldn't have been as successful as it is; and while you're entitled to not like it, it seems wrong to me to dismiss it so casually when so many hundreds of thousands of readers (or is it millions by now?) have spent their money buying it and its sequels.

"Junk" might have been an unfortunate choice of words, but numerous readers who have bought the trilogy don't get beyond the first book. They've "had enough."


[/QUOTE]Although this observation isn't quote on topic, I have been finding grammatical errors and typos more frequently in books published by the Big Six. It's made me wonder if the whole business isn't sliding downhill.[/QUOTE]

[/QUOTE]I've seen problems in books from trade publishers too (and there are far more trade publishers than just the big six, by the way). But those problems are usually of a relatively minor nature and are far less frequent than the problems I find in self published books, which usually contain major errors of several different kinds. The two are not comparable.

And to suggest that the problems you've found imply that trade publishing is "sliding downhill" is a rather larger leap of logic than I'm prepared to accept.[/QUOTE]

I wasn't comparing comparing typos, grammatical errors, etc. in self-published books with trade books. I was simply commenting on what I believe is a downward slide in the quality of editing, proofreading, etc. in trade publications, and I don't believe I'm the only one who has observed this.

I'm quite aware that there are far more trade publishers than the Big Six. I mentioned them because readers generally expect more from them. In the past few years I've read too many reviews of trade publications by respected reviewers who have cited the need for better editing in the books they were reviewing. And these reviewers were specific: they expressed what in their critical judgment should have been done and was either neglected or simply overlooked. Also, there was a time when it was a surprise to find typos or grammatical errors in trade publications. That is not the case today.

Old Hack
02-16-2013, 01:43 AM
Well, you've equated my definition of "somewhat raw" with "someone's verbal spit-up" which I would more likely equate with the sentence following the one you quoted.

David Wong's "John Dies at the End" was something I consider "somewhat raw" and it was hilarious

I've read "John Dies", and didn't think it was hilarious at all: I found it slow, meandering and foolish, and far, far too long. But I think that's the nature of self-publishing each episode as you write it, which the author did prior to finding his trade deal, I think.

However, the text in it is far from raw. It's clean and sharp, despite the plot problems I pointed to, and very error-free compared to most of the self-published books I've seen. I've not read Mr Howey's Wool, so can't comment on it: but these two books are not your typical self publised books, are they? And as such, aren't useful examples to pull out in this discussion.

We can all bring exceptional books to the table and use them to prove our points: that doesn't change the fact that most self published books are poorly written and sloppily edited. It's a sad fact: but it's true nonetheless.


"Junk" might have been an unfortunate choice of words, but numerous readers who have bought the trilogy don't get beyond the first book. They've "had enough."

If they didn't get beyond the first book, why would all of those readers have bought the second and third books in the trilogy?

Another logical lapse, I fear.


I wasn't comparing comparing typos, grammatical errors, etc. in self-published books with trade books. I was simply commenting on what I believe is a downward slide in the quality of editing, proofreading, etc. in trade publications, and I don't believe I'm the only one who has observed this.

It's true that you're not the only person to have remarked on the increasing number of mistakes they've found in trade-published books. But that doesn't mean that the number of mistakes have actually increased.

A couple of studies I read a few years ago (I'll see if I still have links or references to them) showed that there were a few reasons for this observation: but an increase in errors wasn't necessarily one of them. Analysis of various texts suggested that there was no significant increase in errors over time, although there had been several changes in acceptable usage and style. And yet readers reported that errors were increasing.

As I recall, there were two main reasons for this phenomenon.

The first reason was that as people get older and read more, they become more experienced and more skilled at reading and interpreting text. And as that happens, they notice more of the detail involved in how the text is constructed. So they notice more mistakes: but the mistakes aren't new; they were there all along, but the reader didn't have the sophistication to spot them a decade or two before.

The second is the flipside of that: as we age we assume that we know more than we do, and we mark things as errors because they're not how we do things, even if they're right. My parents hate the use of "and" at the beginning of a sentence, and refuse to accept that it's allowable; while I, for example, am very uncomfortable with grammar's rule of compound possession. I cannot accept that it's acceptable to say "William and Mary's house", and have to say "William's and Mary's house". I know logically that compound possession is an acceptable construction but in my heart, and to my eye and my ear, it's wrong: and so each time I come across it I mark it down as a mistake even though I know it isn't. I perceive it as a mistake.

I'll try to find links to the studies involved because they were fascinating, and contained all sorts of interesting insights into the reading process which you might find useful.

J. Tanner
02-16-2013, 02:45 AM
I've read "John Dies", and didn't think it was hilarious at all: I found it slow, meandering and foolish, and far, far too long. But I think that's the nature of self-publishing each episode as you write it, which the author did prior to finding his trade deal, I think.

However, the text in it is far from raw. It's clean and sharp, despite the plot problems I pointed to, and very error-free compared to most of the self-published books I've seen. I've not read Mr Howey's Wool, so can't comment on it: but these two books are not your typical self publised books, are they? And as such, aren't useful examples to pull out in this discussion.

The meandering nature of Wong's book is why I consider it raw. It's the kind of thing I imagine a good trade editing team improving. (I don't know if they actually did, I've only read the self-pub version. I will say that the cover design team did a wonderful job on both this book and its sequel--good enough that I've considered buying physical copies of both for my "keeper" shelf.)

They certainly aren't typical self-published books. I think the exceptions are worth considering in the context of general advice. And acknowledge that reasonable people can disagree about that you you seem to be one of them. :)

The studies sound really interesting. I hope you turn up the links. (I've always wondered if my copy-editing "skills" have improved over the years or if more minor errors are sneaking into trade books.)

rac
02-16-2013, 02:46 AM
If they didn't get beyond the first book, why would all of those readers have bought the second and third books in the trilogy?

Another logical lapse, I fear.


It wasn't a logical lapse. The publisher made the purchase of the complete trilogy attractive, and people bought it thinking they were getting a good deal on best sellers. This was done for both ebooks and paperbacks. It was brilliant marketing.

Reviewers generally don't remark on typos in trade books (and there are more than there used to be), but they do register their displeasure at what they perceive as poor editing, usually with a phrases like ..."this novel could have used editing" or ..."this novel needed a strong editor," etc. I've been seeing these remarks with greater frequency.

MaggieDana
02-16-2013, 04:04 AM
If writers spent more time working on their craft they might be more aware of how to improve their work. But most of the focus now seems to be on how to upload work to KDP, where to price the books, and so on, and not on becoming a better writer.

This.

OliverCrown
02-16-2013, 04:16 AM
I do.

Whether I'm putting down a buck or a ten-spot I expect to get a well-crafted, finished product.

(snip)

If you're not going to give me the best you have why would I be interested in reading it, or anything else with your name on it?

Be proud of your writing and deliver the best you can to your readers. That means editing, editing, copy editing, cover art and all the bells and whistles if you choose to self-pub.

jmo, ymmv.

Good points. One thing I would like to propose, is perhaps the best effort was actually put forth. Later when the writer can improve the story in question, they choose to revise and update the release.

Not everyone is able to release the perfect, or near perfect book...regardless of the publisher. This goes for storytelling in general - see Director's Cuts and the like for movies. But sticking with books I think there are a few things we can agree on:

1 - As a general rule, all stories should have a strong editor who is not the author.

2 - Many in the self-pub crowd choose to employ an editor, but some may not for various reasons (cost being among them)

3 - Some (I would argue many, but have no numbers to back that up at the moment) look at the self-pub/e-book option understanding that they can change a cover or upload fixes later. It's how technology works today.


I would also put this out there, though I have a biased opinion on the matter:

Any book/story/film that is completed & released - no matter the number of errors - is still a triumph and certainly is better than a story/film/etc. that was never finished and released.

The reason I say that is simple. Anyone can *believe* they have a great story that's not quite ready for prime time. It takes guts to actually put your own stuff out there. Speaking only for myself, I recognize that there are a ton of things I *should* have done better, and will do better. However I'm damn proud that I saw this thing from start to finish, and even met my deadline. Because the fact is that at the end of the day there are more people out there that haven't written a novel than have.

Inner Doubts - "Oliver, there are tons of hacks out there with e-books. Why must you be one of them?"

Inner Confidence - "Because this time, it's *my* turn!"


Just a thought, not meant to be snarky or the like.

J. Tanner
02-16-2013, 04:39 AM
Anyone can *believe* they have a great story that's not quite ready for prime time. It takes guts to actually put your own stuff out there.

Too many people have too much guts right now. :D

Also, too many of them don't even realize it's not close to ready for prime time.

And adding insult to injury, some of them engage in highly questionable behavior when things don't go their way. There's this weird sense of entitlement--that by publishing alone, no matter how ridiculously simple and meaningless that has become today, they are owed sales and/or praise.

But we were talking about editing, right... :P

OliverCrown
02-16-2013, 05:01 AM
Too many people have too much guts right now. :D

Also, too many of them don't even realize it's not close to ready for prime time.

And adding insult to injury, some of them engage in highly questionable behavior when things don't go their way. There's this weird sense of entitlement--that by publishing alone, no matter how ridiculously simple and meaningless that has become today, they are owed sales and/or praise.

But we were talking about editing, right... :P

10 points to your house!

Oh, I agree that too many feel entitled to sales; I honestly write my stuff so that it's out there. The same reason I did an ashcan comic book back in the 90s. But there's a good chunk of folks who are shocked (shocked, I say!) when the book they released on Amazon hasn't grossed $100,000 in the first week.

BOT - I've been asking around (mostly via e-mail) and I'm finding that most of the authors I know have employed an editor in some aspect. Granted I've only got a small sample (12) but it certainly bears out that editors - specifically copy editors - are still in demand from self-pubs.

There are a tone out there who advertise as being "ideal" for self publishers. How good are they? I can't personally tell to be honest. However the cost varies from around $500 to $1,500 for a similar page/word count.

As I believe Old Hack said earlier, they are doing rather well for themselves.

stranger
02-16-2013, 02:04 PM
Any book/story/film that is completed & released - no matter the number of errors - is still a triumph and certainly is better than a story/film/etc. that was never finished and released.

I disagree. Any book completed is a triumph, in the same way that everyone who completes the marathon has triumphed. It's the releasing part that shouldn't happen in most cases. Releasing is saying that this is a professional quality book. Just because someone ran a marathon in 6 hours doesn't mean they should run in the Olympics.



The reason I say that is simple. Anyone can *believe* they have a great story that's not quite ready for prime time. It takes guts to actually put your own stuff out there.


I disagree here too. If you believe you have a great story, then it takes absolutely zero guts to put your story up. (It takes a lot more to realize it's not good enough.) The problem is that believing you are a good writer is a lot easier than actually being one. If you look at American Idol, you can fill stadiums with those who believe they are great singers. Some of them are truly terrible. In the book world, a large portion of that whole stadium now self-publishes, ranging from the terrible to the fantastic.

Old Hack
02-16-2013, 02:42 PM
The meandering nature of Wong's book is why I consider it raw. It's the kind of thing I imagine a good trade editing team improving.

Ah! We're on the same page there then. I don't know how heavily it was edited, but I'd have liked more of the structure addressed. Not that that matters, because it's sold very well as it is.


They certainly aren't typical self-published books. I think the exceptions are worth considering in the context of general advice. And acknowledge that reasonable people can disagree about that you you seem to be one of them. :)

I wish they were typical of self published books: wouldn't it be great if most were of such quality?


The studies sound really interesting. I hope you turn up the links. (I've always wondered if my copy-editing "skills" have improved over the years or if more minor errors are sneaking into trade books.)

I've not found them yet but they are very unlikely to be on this laptop, as I used them in a paper I wrote before I owned the laptop. I'll keep looking.


It wasn't a logical lapse. The publisher made the purchase of the complete trilogy attractive, and people bought it thinking they were getting a good deal on best sellers. This was done for both ebooks and paperbacks. It was brilliant marketing.

You're now implying here that no one bought the first book and went on to buy the following titles in the series as a result of enjoying that first book.

If you're going to use subsections to illustrate your points you shouldn't imply that your points refer to a group as a whole.


Reviewers generally don't remark on typos in trade books (and there are more than there used to be), but they do register their displeasure at what they perceive as poor editing, usually with a phrases like ..."this novel could have used editing" or ..."this novel needed a strong editor," etc. I've been seeing these remarks with greater frequency.

My bold.

Either they don't remark or they do. Which one is it?

And could you provide a few links to professional reviews where such remarks are made? As you say you're seeing such comments more frequently now, it shouldn't be too difficult for you to find them. I'm not trying to corner you here: I am curious to know in what context such comments appear.

bearilou
02-16-2013, 03:11 PM
They certainly aren't typical self-published books. I think the exceptions are worth considering in the context of general advice. And acknowledge that reasonable people can disagree about that you you seem to be one of them.

I wish they were typical of self published books: wouldn't it be great if most were of such quality?

I think this is what gets my goat when we have these discussions. The exceptional self-published books get singled out as being the norm and it never seems to be taken into consideration that just because we have some great breakout self-published novels out there doesn't mean that there is a high proportion of great self-published novels out there in relation to the poorer quality.

It's all in the numbers. I'm sure Amazon won't release the data but I suspect that the number of self-published books out there is very very high in relation to the number of breakout self-published books.

So, my sticking point is that yeah, sure, one self-published author has hit the big time this month. Fantastic. Out of how many that were self published this month?

Compare that to one trade published author who hit the big time this month and how many books were released this month.

I would wager that the ratio of success to published would show that indicating the success in self-publishing is not comparable to the success in trade publishing. (hope I'm making sense, if I'm not, I blame it on first-cup-of-coffee-itis)


And could you provide a few links to professional reviews where such remarks are made? As you say you're seeing such comments more frequently now, it shouldn't be too difficult for you to find them. I'm not trying to corner you here: I am curious to know in what context such comments appear.

I know you didn't ask me but I'm weighing in anyway. I'm a 1-star review fan. :/ Meaning that for any book that might be of interest to me, I check out 1-star reviews first. (then the sample, then the publisher, depending on how the sample reads).

What I've noted is that when 'poor editing' gets mentioned for a trade book (and that's a rarity, it's overwhelmingly used to refer to a self-published book in my experience), it's usually in response to other things that they didn't like about the book and/or the author as being 'one more reason' why they ripped the book up and fed it to their children (because I've also noted that people don't ever put a book down they hate, it disgusts them, they throw it across the room, slam dunk it into the garbage, set fire to it, give it to their cat to shred, flush it down the toilet or any other number of hyperboles they feel is necessary to express their disgust with a book instead of saying 'didn't like, 1-star, move along' but that's a discussion for another day).

As opposed to self-publishing books which don't seem to get the same degree of hyperbolic disgust but frequently get called out more for poor editing.

...maybe I should go back to my coffee.:Coffee::e2coffee:

stranger
02-16-2013, 03:24 PM
I would wager that the ratio of success to published would show that indicating the success in self-publishing is not comparable to the success in trade publishing.

Of course not. But trade publishers have already choosen the top 1% (of whatever) of books sent to them.

If you compare the very best of the books that are sent to trade publishers with every book sent directly to Amazon by an author, the former will have a much higher success ratio. (Not even to mention the better marketing/editing etc. that the trade published books will have.)

Old Hack
02-16-2013, 04:34 PM
Of course not. But trade publishers have already choosen the top 1% (of whatever) of books sent to them.

If you compare the very best of the books that are sent to trade publishers with every book sent directly to Amazon by an author, the former will have a much higher success ratio. (Not even to mention the better marketing/editing etc. that the trade published books will have.)

This reasoning irritates me.

We're talking about books which have been published, not books which have been sent out on submission.

It's a way to excuse the poor standard of self published books.

kaitie
02-16-2013, 10:02 PM
Of course not. But trade publishers have already choosen the top 1% (of whatever) of books sent to them.

If you compare the very best of the books that are sent to trade publishers with every book sent directly to Amazon by an author, the former will have a much higher success ratio. (Not even to mention the better marketing/editing etc. that the trade published books will have.)

Which is because people are often publishing substandard, unedited work that isn't ready to be published (I'm not saying all).

Here's what bothers me about this whole thing, and some of you might have heard me say this before, but it's been ages so I'm repeating myself.

When you publish, and when you ask people to pay money for your product, I think that requires a higher level of ability and a higher quality product than what an amateur produces. I don't have any problem with a person offering a book for free that isn't as high quality, but the second you ask for money, you're in a whole new league.

It bothers me, as both a reader and a writer, when people ask money for a product that just isn't there. I'm not talking about the people who really try, the ones who do research and actually make an effort. I'm talking about the awful lot of products I see that are put out without professional covers, editing, formatting, etc. I've seen some really crazy stuff. I saw a book recently in which the formatting was terrible to the point that I had to wonder if the author even opened the sample to see what it looked like after he uploaded it.

What I see from some authors is a sense of entitlement. People think they've written a book, and therefore people should want to pay money for it, even if the presentation is substandard (and I include things like basic copy editing in presentation. If you have misspelled words, fragments, and grammar errors in the first paragraph, which I've often seen, that's presentation IMO). It's disrespectful to the reader, IMO.

I understand that there is a huge learning curve, and honestly I seriously sympathize with the fact that just about every writer thinks their first book is awesome and great and amazing and a one of a kind work of art. They're in love with it. They've worked really hard for months or years. But I think everyprofessional needs to do their due diligence, and if you're asking people to spend money on your product, you're a professional.

That's why you need beta readers and copy editors and developmental editors. That's why a professional needs to honestly be able to say "this just isn't good enough yet" and move on or work to make it better.

I'm not saying this as some pretentious writer who hasn't ever gone through this. I have a book that I love. I really enjoyed it, my friends enjoyed it, and so on. At the same time, I've always known it has some issues, little sneaking nagging suspicions that have been confirmed a couple of times. My agent didn't think that book was good enough, and looking at his comments, I understand.

Could I probably sell a few copies of it? Yeah, but I know that the book isn't up to professional standards. I know what issues need to be tackled (not how to do it, so I've moved on). I still love it. I still want to share it with others, but I also know that where it stands right now, it isn't good enough that I would feel comfortable asking someone to pay a dollar or two for it.

It's not fair to say that trade publishers only publish the cream of the crop and should therefore be expected to be better. The point is that a lot of stuff is being published that isn't ready to be, and that's a problem.

Having written a book isn't enough of a reason to expect people to spend money that they work hard for on it. I dislike the assumption that people should be expected to pay for a product without the expectation of putting work in and investing in the product. I dislike that there is often more a focus on finding sales than improving as a writer.

I work my ass off to improve. I'm not published. I can't guarantee I ever will be. I have books I'd love to see out therec, one I'd seriously consider self-publishing, but I also know that I wouldn't ever do it without finding out how to create a product that is as close as I can make it to what's being produced by the trade publishers. In some ways, it's almost a slap in the face to see books being put up without effort or professionalism. All I have to do is go to Amazon and flip through the low-priced books and see dozens and dozens of examples of exactly this, or read comments that pop up in other forums and other blogs and so on.

I've seen the arguments saying a book in a drawer isn't making any money, and put them out as fast as you can so that you can get more money, and so on. Well, it's an affront to the people who try hard to put out a professional product. And it's an even bigger affront to the readers who's money you are trying to take.

/rant

stranger
02-16-2013, 10:44 PM
I agree with everything kaitie said. I'm not sure how my comment implied the opposite.

All those substandard books shouldn't be published. But I don't see much point in railing against the fact that they are and will continue to be. Generally they get filtered to the bottom of the ebook pile when they have no sales and poor reviews.

kaitie
02-16-2013, 11:10 PM
But if we could change the dialogue and the focus so that when people looked into self-publishing, they'd see comments about making sure your product is ready, that it costs money to put out a quality product, that the craft means most (which is what I'd like to see much more focus placed on), etc., then more people who shouldn't do it might not, and those who do will do it in a more informed, professional manner.

There will always be people who ignore advice and do what they want, but right now when you look at most of the information on self-publishing, the focus is making money, speed, marketing, promotion, and how easy and cheap it is and how this is a great leveling factor for authors. This last point is particularly salient.

I see a lot of comments about how this is great because it lets anyone publish for free, even those passed over by publishing houses. Well, in a way yes, but that also implies an equal chance for success. It's not true. It's not a free or easy way to have the same level of success, and I'm tired of seeing the implication that it is otherwise. What it is is another opportunity, another door opening up, but one that requires effort, time, and money to actually offer any sort of success (and even that isn't a guarantee).

I feel like if we just assume that nothing can be done about it and leave it as it is, that's ruining that opportunity. More readers will be burned, fewer people will be willing to try self-published books, more authors will be unfairly stigmatized by being self-published, and so on.

I think it's important to at least say these things because if no one does nothing changes. However, if we could increase the number of people putting out this message, we might start to see better informed authors making better decisions. And those decisions would affect every self-published author. If higher quality books are released, readers will be more willing to spend money on a self-published author. Reviewers will take them more seriously. Self-published authors won't be seen as second class.

I think these things need to be railed against because that's the only way change is ever going to happen. And unless something changes, everyone is going to be hurt.

OliverCrown
02-16-2013, 11:46 PM
I disagree. Any book completed is a triumph, in the same way that everyone who completes the marathon has triumphed. It's the releasing part that shouldn't happen in most cases. Releasing is saying that this is a professional quality book. Just because someone ran a marathon in 6 hours doesn't mean they should run in the Olympics.

While I wouldn't say self pubs are in the Olympics (I'd reserve that for award nominees) I see where you're coming from. But using your example, I have the most respect for those atheletes from small Olympic programs who have no shot at a medal. They finish that marathon in six hours, but they took on the challenge *knowing* they had pretty much no chance at placing in the top 100...much less the top three. See US Virgin Islands skiing for an example.




I disagree here too. If you believe you have a great story, then it takes absolutely zero guts to put your story up. (It takes a lot more to realize it's not good enough.) The problem is that believing you are a good writer is a lot easier than actually being one. If you look at American Idol, you can fill stadiums with those who believe they are great singers. Some of them are truly terrible. In the book world, a large portion of that whole stadium now self-publishes, ranging from the terrible to the fantastic.

While I can almost agree with this one, I just can't. Even if I think I have a great story (and let's say for the sake of argument that I feel I've given it my best effort all the way around) it still takes a tremendous amount of fortitude to put it out there. Why? Just because *I* think I have a great story doesn't mean that *others* will agree. Any time you put yourself out there - a book, a job interview, a submission, asking someone on a date - you run the risk of rejection. Understanding and accepting that risk takes guts. I feel it's easier to forgo the risk of rejection and thus stand by my statement.

However I want to acknowledge your points and views. Yes, there are tons of folks who want to be on American Idol. But that's less than 1/2 of one percent of the folks watching the show. Yes, most of them lack quality. However most pop singers out there have little to no vocal training. Pavarotti vs. Rober Plant anyone? (Full disclosure, I'm a Goth-Industrial fan so neither singer is my cup of tea)

OliverCrown
02-17-2013, 12:00 AM
Katie: Thank you for those two posts. Lots to take from that; glad i decided to check back into this thread today.

Maybe I'll reply with more after I've taken time to internalize what you've written, but the only thing I would consider taking any issue with is the financial aspect. Yes, money can certainly be spent to improve a product. Staying on topic - editing is certainly one of them. Is it possible that editors could come down to more affordable rates? Do you feel that's a possible resolution?

kaitie
02-17-2013, 12:19 AM
For what it's worth, I think it takes guts to show writing to anyone. Even sending it to a beta reader can be a nerve-wracking experience for me. I think it takes guts to send to agents and publishers in the face of rejection, and I think it takes guts to put it out for readers. Putting yourself out there, for most people, is a really tough thing. I'm sure there are people who are over-confident (or even egocentric) who think they're so great everyone will love them and they aren't the least bit concerned, but I really think that for the vast majority of us, knowing our work is going to be judged by others is a scary prospect. I admire anyone who puts their work out there.

kaitie
02-17-2013, 12:30 AM
Katie: Thank you for those two posts. Lots to take from that; glad i decided to check back into this thread today.

Maybe I'll reply with more after I've taken time to internalize what you've written, but the only thing I would consider taking any issue with is the financial aspect. Yes, money can certainly be spent to improve a product. Staying on topic - editing is certainly one of them. Is it possible that editors could come down to more affordable rates? Do you feel that's a possible resolution?

I don't think they're asking unreasonable rates. Have you ever done a really intensive beta read? It takes me a lot of time to read, comment, digest, etc. just for a beta read. If I charged for what I provide, I think $1000 for 100,000 words would be fair. I've done line edit beta reads before. I'm sure a real editor is faster than me, but it just takes so much more time to read something for analysis and critique than it does to read for fun. I have the same experience when I grade papers. It can take me eight hours to grade forty papers that it would only take two to read just because I have to mark errors and leave comments on each.

The second thing is that good editing is a skill that not many people have. It's learned, and part of what you're paying for is expertise. It's not just about the time it takes to do it; it's about having someone who has been educated and spent years to develop a level of skill perform a task for you.

If you ask an editor to take less, you're lowering the amount they get paid per hour, but you're also saying that the expertise they've developed isn't worth as much. I know that's not what you're meaning to say, but a good expert earns it. We all have to make a living.

I totally sympathize with the cost, but I think rather than trying to get editors to come down in price, people should just spend more time saving up to pay for it. There's a real sense of "now, now, now" when it comes to self-publishing, but if it takes a year to save up the money to do it well, isn't the chance to sell more copies worth the wait?

stranger
02-17-2013, 12:51 AM
I agree that the narrative should include learning the craft, writing a great novel, polishing it till it shines, getting feedback to be sure it's good enough, having it professionally edited and only then self-publishing. Then, expect to sell very few copies and start working on your next story.

And that is the narrative I follow and many other selfpublishers follow. But you can't control everyone's message. And some people have had success without much editing. So there's also the narrative to get as much work out there as you can as quickly as you can.

And there's always going to be people who want to skip corners, or those who'll be misinformed.

I can't see anything changing, except that readers will get burnt a few times buying bad books and will begin to check samples etc. more carefully.

OliverCrown
02-17-2013, 12:56 AM
Just had a thought - while reading Katie's response.

Kickstarter.

Possible bridge between paying an editor what they deserve & helping ease the financial burden on the writer. While I'm not particularly familiar with the workings of Kickstarter the basic premise is asking for donations to a cause/project/task/thing.

Thoughts?

kaitie
02-17-2013, 01:25 AM
I've considered using Kickstarter myself. I know some people have done really well with it. I think the problem is that there are so many people on Kickstarter now that it's a little harder to get noticed (from some people I know who have used it recently). I'm not entirely certain that I have the marketing/promotion chops to get people to promote me there.

I'd seriously consider it, though, and I'm not sure I see how it can hurt to try. I'd have a really great sample of the book available, though, so that people who are considering it have a good reason to get invested.

Sheryl Nantus
02-17-2013, 01:27 AM
Just had a thought - while reading Katie's response.

Kickstarter.

Possible bridge between paying an editor what they deserve & helping ease the financial burden on the writer. While I'm not particularly familiar with the workings of Kickstarter the basic premise is asking for donations to a cause/project/task/thing.

Thoughts?

It's been done and sometimes well.

I, personally, won't give money to an unknown author in hopes that they choose a good editor/copy editor/cover artist and finish the actual book.

I *do* donate to Kickstarter campaigns with known quantities. A good author with a good rep who is going to deliver a good story.

The biggest problem I see is that Kickstarter allows you to show off your product. If it's a comic book, you show me art. (Leaving Megapolis by Gail Simone) or a game you show me finished work (Rivet Wars).

A novel... I have no idea what sort of skill you have and how the finished product is going to turn out. It's a crap shoot for those who want to invest, IMO.

If I don't have the money to invest in my project then I save and scrimp and maybe get a loan to do it. At least that's how I would do it.

But that's just me.

:)

stranger
02-17-2013, 01:31 AM
Here's a thread about kickstarter from last year:
http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=237178

kaitie
02-17-2013, 01:42 AM
It's been done and sometimes well.

I, personally, won't give money to an unknown author in hopes that they choose a good editor/copy editor/cover artist and finish the actual book.

I *do* donate to Kickstarter campaigns with known quantities. A good author with a good rep who is going to deliver a good story.

The biggest problem I see is that Kickstarter allows you to show off your product. If it's a comic book, you show me art. (Leaving Megapolis by Gail Simone) or a game you show me finished work (Rivet Wars).

A novel... I have no idea what sort of skill you have and how the finished product is going to turn out. It's a crap shoot for those who want to invest, IMO.

If I don't have the money to invest in my project then I save and scrimp and maybe get a loan to do it. At least that's how I would do it.

But that's just me.

:)

Well, if you're talking about a novel, why not give a thirty page sample or something of that nature? If I read a sample and it was awesome, I'd be willing to donate to an unknown author. If I read it and it was poorly written and still needed a lot of work, I'd move on.

Also, if editing and so on is important, why not get the names of some great editors, find out their rates, and then you can list them in the description? If you can say "I need $3000 to pay for this really great editor, and this really great formatter, and this guy who is doing the cover art..." and so on, then it's not so much an unknown variable.

After reading the FAQ, I really am tempted to try it. I'd need to talk to my agent first and figure out a lot of details, but if you don't get enough money, then you just don't get anything from it, no harm no foul. And if you do, then you have the funding you need to put together the product.

Old Hack
02-17-2013, 01:48 AM
Katie: Thank you for those two posts. Lots to take from that; glad i decided to check back into this thread today.

Maybe I'll reply with more after I've taken time to internalize what you've written, but the only thing I would consider taking any issue with is the financial aspect. Yes, money can certainly be spent to improve a product. Staying on topic - editing is certainly one of them. Is it possible that editors could come down to more affordable rates? Do you feel that's a possible resolution?

Good editing takes time, and is difficult.

Good editors are usually in high demand.

The pay for a good edit usually works out at a miserably low hourly rate (this is the voice of experience here).

Why should editors reduce their rates to do writers a favour? Where's their motivation? They still have to eat like the rest of us, and pay rent.

GinJones
02-17-2013, 02:13 AM
I don't understand why authors are "special," in that they don't have to finance their own businesses like everyone else in every other endeavor does.

Well, actually, I guess I can. There's an tradition of writers bringing something special to society, and that's why, historically, authors and other artists had patrons who financed their work.

That's not the society we live in, any more. It's capitalism, all the way. And note that those patrons CHOSE to be charitable benefactors, rather than thinking they were purchasing something of equal value to the money they spent.

So, why should aspiring authors be treated different from aspiring plumbers and lawyers and doctors and ditch-diggers? They all pay for their own training and licensing (as needed), and don't expect someone else to foot the bill. (They may get student loans, but that's not free money, and writers probably got student loans for their training too, but they're expecting money for their current business, not that past training.) They don't expect someone else to buy the tools of the business (the plumbing tools or the law office or the shovel). They don't get to say, "Gee, I tried to fix your toilet, but I couldn't afford to do it right, so it's leaking worse than before, but, hey, I did the best I could, so you should pay me anyway."

If you can't afford to start a publishing business, then you can't afford to start a publishing business. If that's still your dream, then find a way to fund it properly. Borrow against your credit cards (I seriously do NOT recommend this, but, hey, if someone's going to take the risk, it ought to be the writer, not the reader), get a day job and save up some money, or submit to a publisher who will BUY your work and publish it, at least until you can afford to start a publishing business. Just don't do it on the cheap, and then expect people to pay for a quality product.

OliverCrown
02-17-2013, 02:16 AM
Stranger, thank you very much for the link! Reading stuff over there as we speak.

Old Hack, my point was simply this: There's a gulf between authors strapped for cash and the editors many find 'worth the salt'. To say money is not a valid excuse is in my opinion a 'let them eat cake' stance. Money doesn't grow on trees for everyone.

Some folks *can* save up. Some folks can afford to drop $2,000 at the drop of a hat. Others may be counting pennies with other responosibilities (mortgage, kids, etc.).

I acknowledge that editors have to eat. Authors have to eat. By lowering rates potentially both sides could benefit, because if nobody can afford to hire you (or anyone) as an editor, books go out there without editing...and editors starve.

However this Kickstarter article is somewhat promising. More and more it's looking like a bridge that can be used by some (indluding yours truly) in the future.

stranger
02-17-2013, 02:40 AM
Oliver, cheaper editors can be found. Ones who haven't that much experience and are building their client base, for example. Ones who work part-time just to get extra money. (As Old Hack said, lower rates mean that editors aren't making much on an hourly basis, so fulltime editors will have to charge more.) The problem is that some of these cheaper editors mightn't be that good. Check out the Writer's Cafe on kindleboards. There's a yellow pages there in which many editors advertise their services. Check out rates. Do a search in the threads for recommendations. Check out testimonials/previous clients. And ask a few editors for a small sample before contracting them.

stranger
02-17-2013, 03:02 AM
Also, Oliver, an editor doesn't take a raw manuscript and make it polished. An editor takes a polished manuscript, fixes errors and makes it even better through an experienced second set of eyes.

I just read how you finished your first book in Nanowrimo this year and then released it by Christmas time. Doesn't sound like much time for self-editing. Often people will spend months editing a nanowrimo novel. Especially if it's your first one. Have you spent a lot of time learning the craft of writing, and learning how to self-edit? In general, the better shape your manuscript is in, the less the editing will cost. If there are fundamental problems, editing isn't going to be much use.

But some people seem to be able to produce quality novels at a fast pace, so maybe you are one of those lucky writers.

Also, if you are worried about the costs, why not look for a publisher? That's the best way for someone to release novels without having to invest money in it.

kaitie
02-17-2013, 03:47 AM
Stranger, thank you very much for the link! Reading stuff over there as we speak.

Old Hack, my point was simply this: There's a gulf between authors strapped for cash and the editors many find 'worth the salt'. To say money is not a valid excuse is in my opinion a 'let them eat cake' stance. Money doesn't grow on trees for everyone.

Some folks *can* save up. Some folks can afford to drop $2,000 at the drop of a hat. Others may be counting pennies with other responosibilities (mortgage, kids, etc.).

I acknowledge that editors have to eat. Authors have to eat. By lowering rates potentially both sides could benefit, because if nobody can afford to hire you (or anyone) as an editor, books go out there without editing...and editors starve.

However this Kickstarter article is somewhat promising. More and more it's looking like a bridge that can be used by some (indluding yours truly) in the future.


Well, there are a couple of options for really poor folk (I'm one of them lol. Trust me, I feel your pain). One is something like Kickstarter, which gives a person without the means a chance. The other is to be commercially published, which is free, though hard.

Granted, there's a third option. Taking on extra hours, finding a way to put a hobby to use, etc. I've done a lot of carpentry work, so whenever I have a break, my friends pay me to do work at their homes. Painting, repairs, basic stuff that they can't do on their own. I don't charge as much as a professional, but they get an easy, nice job for their money.

I do a lot of sewing, and I could probably sell some stuff I sew if I wanted to. I've done some furniture refinishing. I could look into getting (another) job part-time if I didn't have any skills that could help me. I wouldn't have to do it forever. If I was just trying to save two or three thousand for a project like this, a temporary holiday job would probably be enough to cover it.

I know there are people who are scrimping so much that even that sort of thing isn't going to help, but honestly I don't think those people should be self-publishing. I'd never recommend putting money into something that you can't easily do without. Self-publishing, in the end, is a gamble. You don't know if your money is going to be earned back at all. You might spend $1500 and earn back a tenth of that. You might spend nothing and rake in thousands. There's really no way of knowing.

It's one of those things where self-publishing is often touted as a cheap, free alternative, but if someone is really hurting for money, I'd recommend trying to be trade published any day. All you need is a library card and a free email account for that, and you don't have to worry about coming up with money up front. Yes, it's hard and there's no guarantee it will work out, but there's no guarantee with anything in this business, and at least in that case you can still feed your kids.

OliverCrown
02-17-2013, 04:19 AM
Oliver, cheaper editors can be found. Ones who haven't that much experience and are building their client base, for example. Ones who work part-time just to get extra money. (As Old Hack said, lower rates mean that editors aren't making much on an hourly basis, so fulltime editors will have to charge more.) The problem is that some of these cheaper editors mightn't be that good. Check out the Writer's Cafe on kindleboards. There's a yellow pages there in which many editors advertise their services. Check out rates. Do a search in the threads for recommendations. Check out testimonials/previous clients. And ask a few editors for a small sample before contracting them.

Thank you! I'll check these sources!

I did come across an editor that I can afford - with a loan from the spouce - so that's good news for me. It's a balance act of course; I'll try to keep folks posted.

I have to say this thread has been extremely helpful for me, personally. ymmv.

Edit: Thank you too, Katie! Once I have a steady stream of disposeable income, the second place it goes is to my books (the first place is a thank you to the spouce!) with an eye on editors.

May have to bookmark this thread for future reference...

OliverCrown
02-17-2013, 04:30 AM
Also, Oliver, an editor doesn't take a raw manuscript and make it polished. An editor takes a polished manuscript, fixes errors and makes it even better through an experienced second set of eyes.

Understood, and agreed.


I just read how you finished your first book in Nanowrimo this year and then released it by Christmas time. Doesn't sound like much time for self-editing. Often people will spend months editing a nanowrimo novel. Especially if it's your first one. Have you spent a lot of time learning the craft of writing, and learning how to self-edit? In general, the better shape your manuscript is in, the less the editing will cost. If there are fundamental problems, editing isn't going to be much use.

But some people seem to be able to produce quality novels at a fast pace, so maybe you are one of those lucky writers.

Time will certainly tell. I was in a position of being able to work on my book about 8-12 hours a day for about a month & a half. I'll admit I have tons to learn about writing; I don't think anyone has everything down yet. However my primary goal at this point isn't to make a living doing this, nor is it to have massive sales. It's to get my stories out there.

That said, anything that helps me improve - especially feedback - isn't a good thing, it's a great thing.


Also, if you are worried about the costs, why not look for a publisher? That's the best way for someone to release novels without having to invest money in it.

Publishers are looking at making money, and the turnaround time may takes months or more *after* a deal is reached. I spent a decace working for a publisher (Academic, Politics, Staff Directories) and the concern is really the company bottom line. One of the reasons I feel that self publishing has exploded of late isn't just because of the cost & turnaround...it's also the royalties. But that's for a different thread...

There may well be a time when I feel I can write for a seperate publish house, but before I do that I have to come to terms that my characters are no longer mine. It's part of why I didn't submit to Marvel and decided to just do my own comic on an ashcan.

Sheryl Nantus
02-17-2013, 04:48 AM
There may well be a time when I feel I can write for a seperate publish house, but before I do that I have to come to terms that my characters are no longer mine.

You do understand that there are publishing contracts that do not "own" your characters, right?

For example - my superhero series, below. I was asked to do a superhero story for the upcoming Origins Game Fair 2013 where the theme is going to be "superheroes" and thus I wrote a short story, a prologue to "Blaze". After the anthology is published at the convention I plan to put the story up for free on my website as an intro to the series.

I had every right to do so. The characters are *mine*, not Samhain's.

I think you need to do more reading about how the publishing world works.

As far as NaNoWriMo goes, both books that started my series are NaNos - but they took months to whip into shape for publication. Agents, publishers and I suspect readers are wary of ANYTHING that gets shoved out there in December and January because of exactly what you did - finish a novel and rush it out. It might be good or bad but it's going out in the middle of pretty well the worst time to submit/publish.

:)

Captcha
02-17-2013, 05:02 AM
You do understand that there are publishing contracts that do not "own" your characters, right?

For example - my superhero series, below. I was asked to do a superhero story for the upcoming Origins Game Fair 2013 where the theme is going to be "superheroes" and thus I wrote a short story, a prologue to "Blaze". After the anthology is published at the convention I plan to put the story up for free on my website as an intro to the series.

I had every right to do so. The characters are *mine*, not Samhain's.

:)

You have to be a bit careful about that - most of my contracts specify that the publisher has the right to first refusal on any book that uses the same characters as the book they bought. I won't dig out my Samhain contracts b/c they might not be the same as yours anyway, but I don't think it's accurate to assert that publishers never have any right to characters we create.

ETA: I re-read and realized that you weren't making a cross-the-board statement about this - I'll leave my reply in case others misread as I did, but... I'm not actually disagreeing with what you said!



But my main reason for dropping in on this thread was to ask whether anyone has any numbers correlating success (high sales) with editing in self-publication. We all agree that there are exceptions in different directions, but I think one of the serious disincentives for self-publishers is the strong chance that even if they DO have their book carefully edited, it may still languish unsold.

Self-publishing is a gamble, much more so than having someone else publish your work. I think it's entirely possible that people are reluctant to put money into editing not because they don't believe in their work or want it to be as good as it can be, but because they understand that even if it IS well-written and well-edited (with a well-designed cover, etc.) it may still not find an audience.

I think saying that people need to think of self-publishing as a business may not be a useful model because it encourages people to think in terms of cost-benefit analysis, etc., rather than in terms of personal pride in their work. The vast majority of people who self-publish are still selling very few books, and I don't think it's necessarily because they didn't put enough money into editing.

For me, I've felt better about spending money on my self-published work by thinking of it as a fairly expensive hobby. I pay for editing like someone else might pay for a new pair of skis or a video gaming system. If I were thinking of it as a business, I might have been tempted to scrimp, but as a hobby - I wanted the best!

Sheryl Nantus
02-17-2013, 05:10 AM
You have to be a bit careful about that - most of my contracts specify that the publisher has the right to first refusal on any book that uses the same characters as the book they bought. I won't dig out my Samhain contracts b/c they might not be the same as yours anyway, but I don't think it's accurate to assert that publishers never have any right to characters we create.

ETA: I re-read and realized that you weren't making a cross-the-board statement about this - I'll leave my reply in case others misread as I did, but... I'm not actually disagreeing with what you said!

My point was that there's nothing written in stone - and there's a LOT of misinformation out there about what publishers want/ask for from an author. In this case I checked my contract, emailed the editor and received confirmation.

Not all publishing contracts are "sell your soul to the devil" deals with evil publishers. Some are and those you avoid. That's why this board and others exist; to help find good publishers and good contracts.

I agree with your other comment about doing it right, if you do it. If I started my own business selling candles, you better know I'd make sure I was producing the best candles out there before I started selling them to strangers. You can pawn off substandard stuff to family and friends for presents but if you're asking for cold hard cash you better be putting out a product that's at least as good, if not better, than what's out there from the big boys.

Again, JMO.

Captcha
02-17-2013, 07:00 AM
I agree with your other comment about doing it right, if you do it. If I started my own business selling candles, you better know I'd make sure I was producing the best candles out there before I started selling them to strangers. You can pawn off substandard stuff to family and friends for presents but if you're asking for cold hard cash you better be putting out a product that's at least as good, if not better, than what's out there from the big boys.

Again, JMO.

But if you were starting a business selling candles you'd probably look at the market before you started to see if there was room for your product. If the market was flooded with low-cost candles of uncertain quality, as a business person you'd probably back off and find a different product, unless you were confident that you could find a specialty niche to fill.

On the other hand, if you were starting a hobby selling candles you might be more likely to go ahead. You'd accept that, while it's a fun dream to think that you'll be the next big thing in candle-making, it's much more likely that you'll enjoy the candle-making process, learn about candle-making, sell a few lovely candles and never make much money at it. By the time you're done buying supplies, you might actually be losing money, but that's okay because you love making candles and you love the idea of someone out there enjoying your work.

We all know the stats. Hardly anyone makes a living (well, not a decent living) as a writer. We do it because we love it. For the vast majority of us, it's a hobby. If we treat it that way, maybe we'll be able to accept that it's going to end up costing us money, but that's okay because we love doing it.

kaitie
02-17-2013, 07:46 AM
But my main reason for dropping in on this thread was to ask whether anyone has any numbers correlating success (high sales) with editing in self-publication. We all agree that there are exceptions in different directions, but I think one of the serious disincentives for self-publishers is the strong chance that even if they DO have their book carefully edited, it may still languish unsold.

Self-publishing is a gamble, much more so than having someone else publish your work. I think it's entirely possible that people are reluctant to put money into editing not because they don't believe in their work or want it to be as good as it can be, but because they understand that even if it IS well-written and well-edited (with a well-designed cover, etc.) it may still not find an audience.

I think saying that people need to think of self-publishing as a business may not be a useful model because it encourages people to think in terms of cost-benefit analysis, etc., rather than in terms of personal pride in their work. The vast majority of people who self-publish are still selling very few books, and I don't think it's necessarily because they didn't put enough money into editing.

For me, I've felt better about spending money on my self-published work by thinking of it as a fairly expensive hobby. I pay for editing like someone else might pay for a new pair of skis or a video gaming system. If I were thinking of it as a business, I might have been tempted to scrimp, but as a hobby - I wanted the best!

I understand this argument, and I think you're probably right that a lot of people don't want to gamble with thousands of their own dollars. I can't right now, so I don't. I think what kind of boggles my mind, personally, is that instead of saying "I'm not willing to gamble this, so I'm not going to do it," people are saying, "I don't want to gamble, so I'm just going to not spend money on it."

In my mind, it's limits your chances so much to not do these things that I can't imagine doing it that way. It's almost like saying that you're afraid you won't succeed, so you'll not do this and this and this that will help you succeed, thus limiting your chances even more. Of course, there are stories out there of people who have done well with terrible covers or who didn't hire editors. I can definitely see an author thinking (hoping) that they'll be one of those people. Maybe if I just put it out there as it is, it'll catch fire and tons of people will read it. If it doesn't, I haven't lost anything...

I've got a couple of reasons for thinking this isn't the best choice, though. First, you really are limiting your chances for success. When you start having reviews stating that the editing is terrible or it's filled with grammatical errors or typos, or people look at your sample and see that, then they're going to pass on your book and go on to something else. That's going to affect sales. Now, having great editing isn't going to guarantee sales, but at least you won't have readers turning away because of such negative reviews or because the sample is sub par.

One way is like trying to run to a goal on level ground within a certain time limit. The other is like trying to run to the same goal in the same time limit, only this time you're running up a muddy hill. Why would someone do that to themselves? Why shoot yourself in your own foot?

My second thought is that, as a reader, if I read a book that I truly dislike and think is really awful, I won't read that author anymore. I wouldn't want to have anything with my name on it out there that's going to risk having readers say "Yeah, I read one of her books and it was filled with errors. I'm not doing that again."

We want to entice readers to read more of our books. If the first one they come across isn't up to standard, there is a greater risk that the readers who do give it a try won't come back for more. It's hard to build a readership when your audience is all one-off.

Even if a first book doesn't sell very well, if it's a good, clean, edited product, then if you release another book later on that first one can get a boost and you might find momentum building. But if you release a book later on and the first one is weak, that can hurt. This is especially true for series. If the first book in the series has a lot of problems, people aren't going to read the second or third or fourth.

I can understand a very real fear that spending money like this might just be thrown away. It's very possible that it will never be made back. And yes, it's true that you can do it without spending the money and then anything you earn is a bonus. I still think it's better to spend money and risk losing it for the chance of higher sales than to do without at the risk of slowing down your chances.

kaitie
02-17-2013, 08:03 AM
Publishers are looking at making money, and the turnaround time may takes months or more *after* a deal is reached. I spent a decace working for a publisher (Academic, Politics, Staff Directories) and the concern is really the company bottom line. One of the reasons I feel that self publishing has exploded of late isn't just because of the cost & turnaround...it's also the royalties. But that's for a different thread...


First, advances. Those are usually paid partially on signing and partially on release. Yeah there might be a gap in there, but you'd still see a fair amount up front. Second, if the average advance for an author with an agent is $10,000, that's an awful lot of money. You'd need to sell 5,000 books at $2.99 to make that much. As I understand it, most self-published authors don't sell that much per book.

Yes, that's assuming an advance paying publisher, and yes some are less and some are more, etc., but you wouldn't have to wait 2 years to see your first paycheck.

Two thoughts on royalties. First, trade published books sell for higher prices than self-published books usually do. Let's say you sell for $2.99 and get $2.00 royalty per book self-publishing. That's awesome, but let's say your book comes out in hardcover and is selling for $25.00. Even if you just get ten percent, you're still making more per copy. Ebooks might sell for less than a hardcover, and paperbacks certainly do, but most still are selling for several dollars more than the $.99 and $2.99 that most self-published books are paid. That means that 10% can't be compared directly to 70%. You need to know the value that the 10% is coming out of, and often trade published royalties are higher than those with self-publishing when you factor in the difference, and at the very least they are much closer than what the 10-70 split most people mention implies.

Second thought: There is often a large difference in the number of books sold for each. 3000 copies of a book might be considered very low for a commercial book, but it would be considered high for a self-published book. If you sold 5000 copies of a trade published book, and let's say it's a trade paperback selling for $14 and you're making 8% royalties, that comes out to $5600 in royalties.

Let's say your book is self-published on Amazon, selling for $2.99, and you manage to sell 1000 (which would be pretty good). Then you'd make a little over $2000 in royalties. In order to make the $5600, you'd need to sell something like 2700 copies.

I'm not saying it's impossible or that people don't sometimes make out better with self-publishing. It definitely happens with certain books. I'm just saying that numbers often given as reasons why self-publishing is better are biased and need to be considered in a realistic way.

OliverCrown
02-17-2013, 08:18 AM
I think after my nightly writing session I'm just going to copy and paste this page into a word doc, and re-read it a few hundred times.

Please, keep the strong feedback and advice coming. This can only help me move forward.

Old Hack
02-17-2013, 11:27 AM
Old Hack, my point was simply this: There's a gulf between authors strapped for cash and the editors many find 'worth the salt'. To say money is not a valid excuse is in my opinion a 'let them eat cake' stance. Money doesn't grow on trees for everyone.

Some folks *can* save up. Some folks can afford to drop $2,000 at the drop of a hat. Others may be counting pennies with other responosibilities (mortgage, kids, etc.).

We all have to watch what we spend.

If I can't afford to do something, I don't do it.

If writers who want to self publish can't afford to do it properly then they are courting disaster.

And where did I say that money wasn't a valid excuse? Could you tell me the post number, please? Or quote me? Thanks.


I acknowledge that editors have to eat. Authors have to eat. By lowering rates potentially both sides could benefit, because if nobody can afford to hire you (or anyone) as an editor, books go out there without editing...and editors starve.

You missed my point.

Editors--good ones--already have plenty of work on their hands. It's painstaking, time-consuming and poorly-paid already. Why would they refuse a job which paid them their current rate in return for a job which would pay them less, but still take up as much time and effort?


Publishers are looking at making money, and the turnaround time may takes months or more *after* a deal is reached. I spent a decace working for a publisher (Academic, Politics, Staff Directories) and the concern is really the company bottom line. One of the reasons I feel that self publishing has exploded of late isn't just because of the cost & turnaround...it's also the royalties. But that's for a different thread...

If you got a trade deal you'd be paid an advance upfront, and then once that advance had earned out you'd be paid royalties too. Those royalties would be lower per copy than you'd earn from self publishing: but the chances are that you'd sell a ton more copies, and so would earn more than you'd earn from self publishing.

If publishers were only interested in making money, they'd be in a different business. Most people in publishing are passionate about the books they work on, and don't treat them like soulless commodities.

If you worked for a directory publisher then I can see how there wouldn't be such passion there: the product isn't something you could get emotionally attached to in the same way that you could fall in love with a brilliant novel or a fascinating history book. Trade publishing is different.


There may well be a time when I feel I can write for a seperate publish house, but before I do that I have to come to terms that my characters are no longer mine. It's part of why I didn't submit to Marvel and decided to just do my own comic on an ashcan.

Of course your characters would remain yours. The publisher would acquire the right to publish your book; those rights would be limited and defined, and they'd pay you for them. And then when the contract came to an end, the rights would return to you.

That's assuming you have a good agent, of course, who knows better than to sign away your rights in the way you're worried about.


But my main reason for dropping in on this thread was to ask whether anyone has any numbers correlating success (high sales) with editing in self-publication. We all agree that there are exceptions in different directions, but I think one of the serious disincentives for self-publishers is the strong chance that even if they DO have their book carefully edited, it may still languish unsold.

<snipped>

The vast majority of people who self-publish are still selling very few books, and I don't think it's necessarily because they didn't put enough money into editing.

Nothing can guarantee success or high sales, Captcha. And even the most wonderful editor in the world can't turn a bad book into a good one.

Most self publishers sell very few copies because the books aren't any good, and because they can't find their readers.

A good book which has been well-edited is more likely to benefit from word of mouth than a good book which hasn't been edited at all, because readers will enjoy it more and will tell their friends about it.

A bad book, or a good book which has been poorly edited, won't get that same level of grass-roots support.


I'm not saying it's impossible or that people don't sometimes make out better with self-publishing. It definitely happens with certain books. I'm just saying that numbers often given as reasons why self-publishing is better are biased and need to be considered in a realistic way.

Yep.

Captcha
02-17-2013, 03:29 PM
Nothing can guarantee success or high sales, Captcha. And even the most wonderful editor in the world can't turn a bad book into a good one.

Most self publishers sell very few copies because the books aren't any good, and because they can't find their readers.

A good book which has been well-edited is more likely to benefit from word of mouth than a good book which hasn't been edited at all, because readers will enjoy it more and will tell their friends about it.

A bad book, or a good book which has been poorly edited, won't get that same level of grass-roots support.


Do you have numbers or concrete support for these assertions? Because I honestly hope they're true, but I'm just not sure that they are and I've thus far (not just in the thread, but anywhere) not seen anything to support them.

I mean, your description is the way I want self-publishing to work. But what I'm actually seeing seems different - I'm seeing so many books being published that the only way for a 'good' book to be discovered is by chance. I'm seeing that most of the self-pubbed books (at least in my genre) that do well aren't especially well-edited or even well-written in a technical sense but DO have compelling characters and something that twigs with readers. It's making me wonder whether the majority of readers aren't really looking for exactly what we seem to think they are.

I don't have numbers to support my perceptions either, just anecdotal experience. That's why I was hoping someone had some sort of evidence one way or the other...

ETA: Another re-read. I guess we're actually not that far apart, given the "because they can't find their readers" part of your statement. I think maybe we're just differing on how difficult it is to find readers? To me, it seems like this is by FAR the most challenging part of self-publishing, and I'm not sure there's much of a connection between a well-edited book and finding readers.

You run a review site for self-published books, right? Do you ever compare your review ratings to the Amazon sales ranks? I know Amazon sales ranks aren't exactly hard data, but they're the closest we have, probably. Is there a correlation between the books you consider well-edited and the books that are higher in the rankings? Are the books that you consider poorly edited lower in the rankings?

Old Hack
02-17-2013, 09:38 PM
Originally Posted by Old Hack http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=7977308#post7977308)

Nothing can guarantee success or high sales, Captcha. And even the most wonderful editor in the world can't turn a bad book into a good one.

Most self publishers sell very few copies because the books aren't any good, and because they can't find their readers.

A good book which has been well-edited is more likely to benefit from word of mouth than a good book which hasn't been edited at all, because readers will enjoy it more and will tell their friends about it.

A bad book, or a good book which has been poorly edited, won't get that same level of grass-roots support.

Do you have numbers or concrete support for these assertions? Because I honestly hope they're true, but I'm just not sure that they are and I've thus far (not just in the thread, but anywhere) not seen anything to support them.

My first paragraph is self-evident.

Search my HPRW blog (linked to in my signature) for information about the average number of copies sold by self publishers.

Take a look at my review blog (again, linked to in my signature) to see the sorts of self published books that I've seen. Bear in mind that for every single one I've reviewed I've received three or four more which I didn't review because they were so bad I felt it was inappropriate for me to highlight them.

And consider: what sort of books are you likely to tell your friends about? Ones you've really enjoyed, or ones which you felt weren't quite up to the mark?


I mean, your description is the way I want self-publishing to work. But what I'm actually seeing seems different - I'm seeing so many books being published that the only way for a 'good' book to be discovered is by chance. I'm seeing that most of the self-pubbed books (at least in my genre) that do well aren't especially well-edited or even well-written in a technical sense but DO have compelling characters and something that twigs with readers. It's making me wonder whether the majority of readers aren't really looking for exactly what we seem to think they are.There is a big element of chance involved in publishing, but if you have a strong product at the start you're more likely to be able to do well when you get your lucky break.

And you're more likely to get that lucky break if you market your book effectively, and get people to notice it.

If this were not true, trade publishers would not bother editing the books they publish, or marketing and promoting them. They only do things which benefit their books and their profit-margins.

The self published books that you've seen do well might not be as tightly-written as I'd like, or as well-edited, but if they have compelling characters or an elusive something that readers like, they are significantly better than most of the self published books I've seen.

When I talk about "not good enough" I don't mean that the books could do with more editing, or that they needed another round of revision before they were ready: I mean that they were incomprehensible, confusing, verging on the illiterate. Almost unreadable. It distresses me that people publish such work: it doesn't sell, and it doesn't make their lives any better--often, it makes them worse. It's heartbreaking.


I don't have numbers to support my perceptions either, just anecdotal experience. That's why I was hoping someone had some sort of evidence one way or the other...I don't have studies to support some of my opinions, but I do have experience; and you can use articles on my blog to back that up, many of which do contain appropriate references.


ETA: Another re-read. I guess we're actually not that far apart, given the "because they can't find their readers" part of your statement. I think maybe we're just differing on how difficult it is to find readers? To me, it seems like this is by FAR the most challenging part of self-publishing, and I'm not sure there's much of a connection between a well-edited book and finding readers.There isn't necessarily a connection between a book finding its readers, and a book being well-edited.

There is, however, a direct connection between a book being well-edited and its potential readers actually buying it when they come across it; or, if they bought it, liking it enough to buy another and another by that same writer.


You run a review site for self-published books, right? Do you ever compare your review ratings to the Amazon sales ranks? I know Amazon sales ranks aren't exactly hard data, but they're the closest we have, probably. Is there a correlation between the books you consider well-edited and the books that are higher in the rankings? Are the books that you consider poorly edited lower in the rankings?No, I don't compare my reviews to Amazon's sales rankings.

Those rankings can be gamed, and aren't consistent; and I'm not interested in tweaking my reviews because hey look, the book sold three copies today.

OliverCrown
02-17-2013, 10:41 PM
And where did I say that money wasn't a valid excuse? Could you tell me the post number, please? Or quote me? Thanks.




Fair and valid point here. I got your position from post #65:


Simply put: Money.



None of this answers my question, but it does show that you don't fully understand how editors work, or what they do.


As I thought 'Money' answered the question, I took your reply that money wasn't a valid reason. Additional statements you posted (if one cannot afford to self-pub properly, etc.) seemed to support that view.

If I am in error, please accept my apology.

OliverCrown
02-17-2013, 10:47 PM
Oliver, cheaper editors can be found. Ones who haven't that much experience and are building their client base, for example. Ones who work part-time just to get extra money. (As Old Hack said, lower rates mean that editors aren't making much on an hourly basis, so fulltime editors will have to charge more.) The problem is that some of these cheaper editors mightn't be that good. Check out the Writer's Cafe on kindleboards. There's a yellow pages there in which many editors advertise their services. Check out rates. Do a search in the threads for recommendations. Check out testimonials/previous clients. And ask a few editors for a small sample before contracting them.

Felt the need to reply - I have found a couple of editors that have rates my family can afford! It's a team effort.

I wanted to post this since I had posted my inability to find an editor - professional - that I could afford. For this I am extremely greatful. If nobody else has gotten anything out of this thread, I've found it informative, helpful and...even if I don't agree with everything here...I feel I've become a better writer/storyteller for it.

Thanking you all, and hopeful to keep you posted,

Oliver Crown

PS - replying from a Fire is not the easiest thing I've done; sorry for the typos, etc.

Old Hack
02-17-2013, 11:05 PM
Oliver, this is getting a bit confusing so I'll try to recap, just to make sure we're on the same page.

You said you wanted to hire a copy editor; I asked you why you wanted a copy editor and not a developmental editor; and you replied, "money". You then said all sorts of stuff which didn't answer my question (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=7971514#post7971514), but which I felt showed that you don't have the best understanding of how editors work or what they do (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=7971560#post7971560).

I said that you might not think you could afford a good editor, but that I thought writers can't affort to not use one; you said that my saying money is not an excuse is a "let them eat cake" stance (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=7976413&postcount=112), as not everyone can afford a good editor.

Have I caught up?

Right.

I'm not saying that you should just cough up for an editor even if you can't afford one.

What I am saying is that if you can't afford to publish a good book--and for most of us, that includes paying for a skilled editor--then I don't think you should publish at all.

If you're happy to publish unedited work, when it's clear from your comments in this post that your work needs editing (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=7971514#post7971514), then you can't have much respect for your potential readers. And I think that's pretty poor.

I also think that you need to look at what editors do, and how they work, before you consider what sort of editor you require, because otherwise you're likely to make an expensive mistake.

Fuchsia Groan
02-19-2013, 05:38 AM
I'm trying to decide whether to dip my toe into freelance editing.

I already edit for a living. It's probably the only thing I do that everybody I've dealt with has told me I do well. I can do it fast, with sensitivity to the author's genre and style. But scanning the Kindle Boards has told me I'd probably have to work for less than a cent per word, at least till I built a clientele. This makes my poorly paid day job suddenly look a lot better. But I'm curious, and I currently look at people's self-published books for free, so I may give it a try just out of that curiosity.

And I have learned things from looking at those books (which are sent to our newspaper for review). Within a few chapters (sometime pages), I can tell the difference between a book that needs a tremendous amount of editing to be readable (or is unsalvageable) and one that is easily readable and marketable despite some errors. (I would put Amanda Hocking's self-published books, for instance, in the latter category.)

The difference lies in clarity, or lack thereof. A compelling plot told in clear, simple prose with a basic sense of rhythm can survive a lack of copy editing. (To be marketable, of course, it also needs to be about something a lot of people want to read about.) But when an author tries for complex, poetic, or literary prose (or worse, beat prose-poetry) and lacks the skill to pull it off, that book will be nigh on unreadable without editing. Those are the books I don't want to edit for a half cent a word.

Brutal honesty from a beta reader might give writers a better sense of just how badly they need an editor. But brutal honesty can be hard to offer, and hard to hear.

Ineti
03-08-2013, 01:37 AM
I was trying to find out what percent (approximately) of digital publishers/writers are hiring copy editors to review/edit their manuscripts before publishing on Kindle (or other digital platforms).

I'll be hiring copy editors for my novels.

It's not cost-effective for me to hire an editor for my short stories. I'm content to rely on myself and my crack team of beta readers for those. YMMV, naturally.

Ralyks
03-17-2013, 12:44 AM
I It's all in the numbers. I'm sure Amazon won't release the data but I suspect that the number of self-published books out there is very very high in relation to the number of breakout self-published books.


I'm certain this is true. Of course, I also suspect that the number of commercially published books out there is very very high in relation to the number of breakout commercially published books. Not as high, but high.

shelleyo
03-22-2013, 07:54 AM
I was trying to find out what percent (approximately) of digital publishers/writers are hiring copy editors to review/edit their manuscripts before publishing on Kindle (or other digital platforms).



I doubt anyone can pin down an actual percentage with any amount of accuracy. I would guess that most self-publishers don't hire any kind of editors, but that's based on anecdotal evidence and might be dodgy.

I know a great many self-publishers (and I'm one), and again based on just what I see, the ones who are most successful generally end up hiring an editor at some point--though sometimes not until after they're successful enough to easily afford it with royalties.

If you can tell a good story in a popular genre and do a reasonable job of line-editing for yourself, you can probably get away without one. I do, but everything I've published (and/or submitted to publications) so far has been under 20,000 words. I'll be publishing at least a couple short novels this year, and yes, I'll be forking over for professional editing--line-editing and a final proofread at minimum. I'm not confident in my ability to self-edit a longer work as well as I'd like.