Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Writer Wednesday

Hello, and happy Writer Wednesday to you! Today I’m continuing with the third part of my e-publishing series. Last week I shared about formatting your manuscript for the three main e-book sites, Kindle, Nook and Smashwords.

This entry answers the next questions most frequently asked by writers considering electronic publishing for the first time – who does your editing?

When I published my first three books, I didn’t have the funds to hire a professional editor and relied on my critique group to be my editorial eyes. My crit partners are invaluable to me. They see the things I can’t see when it comes to plot, pacing, syntax and character development, but what I’ve discovered is even though we line edit each other’s work, we don’t normally upload the final version for a second review. My group has been together now for more than five years, and four of the six of us are now either self-published or published by a traditional house. We are all too busy to read each other’s work twice. None of us but the author sees the final copy. As a result, typos can slip by unnoticed.
One thing I have discovered is this – no matter how good an eye a writer believes she has, it’s nearly impossible to spot our own errors. From what I’ve read, it’s a brain thing. As we read what we’ve written, we often don’t spot mistakes because our brains know what it’s supposed to say.

Attentive readers and critical reviewers were diligent in letting me know there were errors, and I’ve gone back in numerous times and made corrections.
Formatting errors are another story. Due to the conversion process, oftentimes the writer can format the manuscript correctly, but when she looks at the finished product, things are out of whack. The resolution to these issues is to go back into the original manuscript. Author Derek Haines talked about this in his tongue-in-cheek article, “So What Did You Expect for 99 Cents”. He says, “I hear many complaints from readers about errors, typos and poor formatting in ebooks they read. I have seen these errors for myself in e-books I have purchased from major publishers as well as independents. One aspect of e-books that is overlooked by many is that there are so many different e-book file types and formats, that no matter how careful the preparation, errors will occur simply due to file conversion. It is impossible to prepare an e-book, even in the just the eight most popular formats, and attain error free files unless a lot of time and money is spent.”

I’ve said all that to say, if you can afford to pay a professional editor, do it. If you can’t at this point, at least find someone that is good at proofreading. Perhaps you know a college English major or an English teacher who wouldn’t mind picking up some extra money. If you don’t, you can contact your local high school English teacher or post an ad at the community college asking for assistance. If you just want this person to line edit and not offer commentary on the story, make that clear at the outset. Work out a reasonable per page fee (according to what you can afford) and see if that person is willing to do the job. Remember, if your manuscript runs 400 typed pages, and you’re being charged fifty cents per page, that’s two hundred dollars. If your budget is really tight, you might be able to work out an arrangement where the proofreader does fifty pages at a time and you pay as you go. Establish completion dates and payment arrangements. It’s reasonable to pay part up front then half of the remaining balance when the proofreader produces half of the corrected manuscript by a certain date. The second half can be paid when the rest of the work is done (by a specific date). Type up a simple agreement that will be signed by both parties. This step might seem unnecessary, but it will come in handy if the person you hire decides to stiff you.

A simple agreement can be something like this:

Agreed today, ____________ (date) between __________ (your name) hereafter referred to as CLIENT and _________ (proofreader’s name), hereafter referred to as PROOFREADER for line editing services on _______ (name of manuscript), a ____-page, double-spaced document. Line editing will include typographical and syntax errors and ____________. PROOFREADER is not responsible for critiquing story content such as plot, pacing, characters development,

Work will be performed on an electronic copy (or hard copy, if you still go that way) using he Microsoft Word tracking feature.

PROOFREADER agrees to begin work upon receipt of $______ deposit. CLIENT agrees to pay $_______ upon satisfactory completion of the first half (____ pages) of the manuscript. The remaining balance of $____ will be paid to PROOFREADER upon receipt of the completed second half of manuscript.

If work is not completed to CLIENT’s satisfaction or the agreed number of edited pages is not produced by the first date specified above, this agreement becomes void. PROOFREADER will retain deposit and be compensated only for the number of pages completed.



Professional editors can charge anywhere between fifty cents a page to a thousand dollars to edit a full-length manuscript. If possible, get a recommendation from someone that has used the editor’s services. I suggest you contact other writers for recommendation rather than just picking a name off Facebook or Twitter. Ask the writer specific questions about that person/company’s quality of work and whether or not the finished product was delivered on time.

These days freelance editors are incredibly busy handling all of the writers stepping into the self-publishing arena. Many of them are overextended, so try your best to find out how many jobs they will be working on at the same time.

That’s about it. If you have any questions, please post in the comments section.
Next Wednesday, I’ll be talking about covers.

Hope this was beneficial. The next entry in this e-book series is here:


Sharon Cunningham Cooper said...

Great info., thanks for sharing! Do you have an editor that you'd recommend to others?

Monique DeVere said...

Hi, Chicki,

Thank you for this series of posts.

With regards to the formatting, is there a file type that is best to save the MS to from the very beginning? For instance, would it be better to save the MS as a RTF file instead of Word?

Author of humorous, feel-good romance

Chicki said...

Sharon, I'm starting to work with a new editor on the next book. I'll let you know how it goes.

Monique, I haven't heard anybody suggest any other format other than putting the finished Word document into Notepad to strip the formatting. Honestly, now that I've found out what I shouldn't do in Word, it's easiest to follow the steps I mentioned then convert with Mobipocket. Works like a charm.