So you’ve completed your manuscript? That’s great! But as you know, the work isn’t over. As a self-published author, you know that in order to stand out above the hordes of other self-published books, your work has to be of the highest quality that you’re able, but editing can be hard to do if you’re on a budget!
Unlike traditionally published books, you don’t need to impress a gathering of editors and agents. Instead, you have an audience to please. They wait with baited breath to judge the quality of your manuscript, and its long term success will depend greatly on your first few reviews. It’s for this reason that a thorough edit of your work is crucial. But what if you can’t afford it? Developmental editors and proofreaders can end up costing hundreds. So what can we do to curb the cost but keep the quality?
Join a writer’s group
If you’ve not joined a writer’s group yet, why not? Writer’s groups are a fantastic way to flesh out your ideas and get ongoing feedback before you invest all those hours into completing your work. But wait, you’ve already finished your work! Well if you’re part of a writer’s group, then reach out to them. Offer your skillset to them in return for theirs. Is there a good proofreader amongst them? An avid beta reader? Reach out and offer to help them too!
Join a critique group
Online critique groups like Scribophile can be a great way to receive feedback and edits on your work. For a small monthly fee, you can edit the work of others to earn enough points to have others do the same in return. But if you’ve got to edit their work, why not just edit your own? Well, as you know by now, it’s crucial you get a different set of eyes on your work. So go ahead, give it a go! This is also a great way to edit as you go. Consider uploading each chapter as you complete it to receive almost immediate feedback!
Consider your friends and relatives
Do you know any teachers who have an eagle eye for spelling mistakes? Or perhaps some voracious readers that would jump at the chance to read something new? Reach out and ask them for a favour or do something for them in return. Other people are great at spotting mistakes in our work. At the very least, they may be willing to read a small section and give you a little feedback! Why not offer a free copy of your book in exchange for their time! It’s unlikely that this alone will compare to having your work professionally edited, but it’s a great start, and coupled with some of the other tips here, it’s far better than doing it yourself and just hitting publish.
Online freelancing sites
If you have a little spare cash, online freelancing sites can be a cost-effective alternative to a professional editor. Have a look around and see if you can find someone to do a structural edit of your work before looking for an affordable proofreader. There are plenty of freelancers out their who are just getting started and might be willing do edit your work cheaply in order to build their portfolio. Consider offering a review or referral along with the cost to try and lower the price.
The more you write and edit your own work, the better you will become at the craft and the less work your writing will need. However, it has to be said, even the best writers in the world still need a good editor on their side. But until you find one, reach out to the people around you, network and be sure to join writing and critique groups. Writing can be a lonely business, but … we’re all alone together! Reach out and surround yourself with like-minded people. You’ll often find that other readers and writers are more than willing to help you on your journey!
Good luck and as always, keep writing, keep learning and build a better book!
Peter Turley is a writer, editor, blogger and podcaster living in the North West of England where he grew up. He reads, writes and edits fantasy fiction and co-hosts www.thebookeditorshow.com with Clark Chamberlain. Follow him on Twitter @PDTurley