Confident Reads (4)- Editing 101 Guest Post by Nikki Jefford

 Hello everyone!  Welcome to the fourth week of this brand new feature!  Confident Reads is a way to open communication between readers and indie authors.  Confident Reads is to help readers feel confident in the books they spend their money on, and for authors to feel confident in the book they publish.  You can find this feature each week (Wednesdays except in September when it will be Tuesdays) discussing a different subject regarding indie books and authors.

Previous Posts:
Week One: State of Publishing Guest Post by Jeff Bennington about the differences in publishing terms.
Approved Read: Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe by Jeff Bennington
Week Two: Let’s Talk Covers Part One
Approved Read: Exiled by M.R. Merrick
Week Three: Let’s Talk Covers Guest Post by M.R. Merrick- The Magic of Art

This week we are talking editing.  You all know how important editing is and how it can ruin the enjoyability of a story.  Because I’ve found Nikki’s books to be very well edited I invited Nikki Jefford to the blog to talk about editing today.  While I know that we don’t all have the same opinion on the matter, I stand behind Nikki.  While I know that some authors can get away without a professional editor, most can’t.

Editing 101 by Nikki Jefford

Thank you to Candace for inviting me to write about a subject I’m passionate about: Editing. I’ve organized this post into three steps.

Step One: Self-Edit
Resist the urge to send your first draft to beta readers.
Rushing a manuscript out the moment you finish is discourteous to your betas and, more importantly, not beneficial to yourself. You want to take full advantage of proof reads and critiques and to do that you want to send out your cleanest copy.
Quick tips: Read your manuscript multiple times in multiple formats. Go through it on your computer, your eReader and for heaven’s sake print out a copy and read it with a red pen.
Reading Recommendations: Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to edit yourself into print by Renni Browne & Dave King and Hooked: Write fiction that grabs readers at page one and never lets them go by Les Edgerton.

Step Two: Beta Readers
Choose your critique partners and beta readers wisely. You’re looking for people who are professional and by that I don’t necessarily mean published.
I had the good fortune to come across a kickass beta reader at YA Stands. Although she wasn’t published, it was clear from her tone and conduct that she treated her writing pursuits professionally. Since we met she’s landed an agent and is an intern at a small publishing firm.
After publishing Entangled, book one in the Spellbound trilogy, I recruited two more beta readers – random authors who reviewed my book. One of them, lucky enough, was also a freelance editor. In her review she was enthusiastic about the series while expressing what didn’t work for her. I was so grateful for the time she took to write an honest, helpful review.
As far as I’m concerned there’s always room for improvement and I’m looking for betas with a critical eye, opposed to a pat on the back.

Tip: Be courteous. Beta readers live busy lives like everyone else and have their own writing deadlines. I book my beta readers two weeks out. After that it takes two more weeks to get a critique back – up to a month overall. If you want a quality critique, you need to block out enough time.

Step Three: Hire Professional Copy Editors
I don’t waste my time arguing with people over this. If you’re serious about publishing, get serious about editing.
If a book hasn’t been proof read by a professional I don’t want to spend a dime on it, let alone waste my precious reading time. I have a to-be-read list a mile long. Why should I read a book littered in grammatical debris and mechanical errors? If the mechanics are that poor, likely the story structure has holes in it as well.
There is a world of freelance editors out there offering a variety of services and prices to choose from. Because I’ve done my work ahead of time (step one and two), I’ve ended up getting quotes below the usual rate because I’m told I have some of the cleanest manuscripts editors have seen.
For both Entangled and Duplicity I used Christine LePorte. She charged me $250 on Entangled, which included an offer to re-proof the manuscript after I made changes. This was a STEAL of a deal!
(Note: Pricing depends on word count and the shape your manuscript’s in.)
Even after hiring a professional, grammatical mistakes slipped through the cracks (I made the newbie mistake of rushing it right out as soon as the editor was done with the first proof), which is why I now use two professional copy editors and ALWAYS give it a last read myself.

Nikki Jefford is the author of the YA Spellbound fantasy series. Entangled (book one) is a semifinalist in The Kindle Book Review’s Best Indie Books of 2012. For the latest stop by her blog.

Approved Read: Today Engangled and Duplicity by Nikki Jefford get my stamp of approval. Both of the books were absolutely terrific and I highly suggest you give them a shot!

About Entangled:

 Two months after dying, seventeen-year-old witch Graylee Perez wakes up in her twin sister Charlene’s body.

Until Gray finds a way back inside her own body, she’s stuck being Charlene every twenty-hour hours. Her sister has left precise instructions on how Gray should dress and behave. Looking like a prep isn’t half as bad as hanging out with Charlene’s snotty friends and gropey boyfriend.

The “normals” of McKinley High might be quick to write her behavior off as post-traumatic stress, but warlock Raj McKenna is the only person who suspects Gray has returned from the dead.

Now Gray has to solve the mystery of her death and resurrection and disentangle herself from Charlene’s body before she disappears for good.

***Entangled is a young adult paranormal fantasy romance suitable for ages 15 and up.***

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  1. I do wish more self-pubbed authors would follow this awesome advice–especially the hiring a professional editor. And finding beta readers/crit partners…I’ve struggled with this horribly! So hard to find the right fit, someone who you can communicate with and who gives good feedback. Great post!

  2. While I don’t have much room to talk because I am MISERABLE at all things punctuation and grammar, I do find it very distracting to be reading and notice a myriad of small errors – typos, sentence structure errors, grammar problems, etc. It just reminds me that I’m reading a story rather than allowing me to be fully immersed in the world. I’m not a writer by any means, and I can only imagine the cost of going the self-publishing route where you’re responsible for hiring editors, designers, etc, but I would think and editor and beta readers would be more than worth the cost of their services!

  3. This is fantastic advice that all indie authors would be very wise to follow. A well edited book (second to a well written book) is the key to success! I’ll have to check out Entangled.

  4. Thanks for hosting discussions like this! So helpful! Like it makes so much sense to finish things and read them over before sending them to beta readers, even if that means it’s a longer time before people see the work. This post contains so many great tips – I’m going to have to check out some of those books that Nikki Jefford recommends. And although I own Entwined, I have yet to read it. After reading her well-worded suggestions here, I am even more eager to read some of Jefford’s works.

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