Professional Copyediting is a Self-Publishing Must-Do

Many authors ask me questions like “Do I really need to hire an editor?” and “I had my friend who is an English teacher read it. That counts as editing, right?” While having friends, family, colleagues, and even your writing group is a great way to get feedback on your manuscript, it does not replace the need for a professional copyedit.

Many services offered by self-publishing companies could be considered optional depending on your goals and personal skills. Copyediting is not one of those services I consider “optional;” authors who want their work to polished and professional must hire a professional copyeditor.

So how is a copyedit different than having trusted friends and family read your book?

1) Copyediting requires special skills.

Even friends who are writers or teachers probably don’t have the training necessary to perform a quality edit. (Unless you happen to be friends with a copyeditor.) Copyediting is different than proofreading. The copyeditor doesn’t just look for obvious spelling and grammar mistakes. He or she also corrects style issues, picks up on inconsistencies, and corrects less obvious mistakes.

2) They can look at your work objectively.

Writers who self-edit their work often miss mistakes and inconsistencies because they are too attached to the story. They know what they are saying, so they don’t read through the eyes of a reader who doesn’t know the story. Similarly, friends and family may be afraid of hurting your feelings or be to proud of your work to review it objectively. Copyeditors don’t have a personal attachment to your story and review the manuscript as a professional rather than a friend.

Before you hire a copyeditor, it important to remember these tips:

  • Proofread and spell-check your work before sending it to an editor.
  • Remember that editors are human and many work with about a 5% margin of error.
  • There are different levels of editing intensity: basic, moderate, and extensive. (Basic copyediting typically catches about 70% of errors in a manuscript.)
  • As a self-publishing author, don’t focus on what the editor didn’t find, but rather what was found.
  • Review your manuscript again after you receive it from the editor to check for errors they may have missed.

While copyediting won’t make your book flawless, it will substantially increase the quality and professionalism of your book.

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.

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