Fellow writers and friends have often asked what’s involved in self-publishing. In the next few posts, I’ll share my experience and frustrations in transforming an eighty-thousand word document into my first self-published novel, The White Limousine. I was so immersed in writing that I didn’t think much about the next steps until the manuscript was finished. My job was done – right? Well, no. As I wasn’t a big-name author with an editorial staff at my disposal, the next phase of my writer’s life experience was just beginning.

Turning my attention to the next steps was like opening a door into a long hall with doors on each side. I had no idea which one to open first. I peeked into many of them, and took a few steps into some, eventually learning that the one with the sign reading professional editor should be my first choice.

Whether you choose to self-publish, or go the traditional route, a professional editor is paramount. If you have a relative or friend willing to review your manuscript, that’s great, but it won’t do for the final edit. There is nothing more frustrating than having your book in print and people getting hung up on typos, missing quotation marks, etc. instead of giving feedback on your story, plot, setting or characters.

There are several types of editing ranging from substantive and structural editing to proof-reading (also called copy editing). For a full discussion on this subject, go to the Professional Editor’s Association of Vancouver Island (PEAVI) website. http://peavi.ca/hire-an-editor/what-do-editors-do/ There are professional editor’s associations in many regions. Like PEAVI, their websites often contain information about the editing process, and a list of member editors along with a brief bio of each.

If you’re a member of a writing club, check with published authors and obtain recommendations from satisfied writers. Another way to find an editor is to check the front matter of a book of similar genre to yours. The editor’s name and contact information is usually listed. It’s important to find an editor familiar with your genre or publication. You don’t want an editor who specializes in technical writing when you’re writing a thriller, murder mystery, or romance. If you’re writing a historic novel set in 15th century England, you need an editor familiar with that time period.

When you’ve identified prospective editors, ask about their experience – the actual works that they have edited. Many editors will edit a few pages of your work for free. It’s very important that you and your editor are compatible. Meet in person before entering into a formal agreement. The agreement should specify the type of editing required, the editor’s fee, and the time frame for completion. Most editors charge an hourly rate, and so the cost of editing will vary with the amount of time required. Fewer errors means less cost, and so becoming proficient at self-editing will save you money. Copy editing of an eighty thousand word novel will probably cost a few hundred dollars, but you’ve invested a lot of time into writing your novel. You owe it to yourself and your readers to have a professional final product.

Next post: They say that you can’t judge a book by its cover – but readers do.