What to Expect When Hiring a Copyeditor

If you only get to choose one collaborator to hire for your self-published book, I recommend that you get a copy editor.

A paradox of editing your work is that you won’t be as effective as an outside perspective with fresh eyes. Even if you are a trained editor (and most authors aren’t!), you’ll skip over many of your errors because you’re too familiar with your writing.

You can hire editors at different levels, but I’ll focus on the copy editor: an editor who handles everything from typos and grammar errors to the structure and organization of the manuscript.

The task can be daunting if you have never hired a copyeditor. After all, you’re subjecting your beloved book to scrutiny. Moreover, it can be painful to look over all those editorial changes. If you don’t know what to expect, you may even take it personally and take it out on the editor.

Since professional copyediting is integral to a professionally published book, I’m here to give you some tips on approaching the copyediting process and handling it with grace. If you approach it with the right mind-set, you may become your editor’s dream client, and your book will come out better.

  1. Know what scope you’re looking for

Different copyeditors have different levels of scope and expertise.

For instance, one editor may provide mechanical editing, which concerns spelling, grammar, and style. A mechanical edit will often leave the nature of your story or chapters alone but may home in on a specific compound word’s hyphenation, for example.

Mechanical editing often overlaps with line editing, but some editors carry out line edits as a distinctive service, paying extra attention to word choice, word flow, concision, and the organization of sentences and paragraphs.

As you go higher in level, you’ll encounter substantive editing, which concerns the craft of words on the section and chapter level. Then there’s developmental editing, which focuses on the big picture of a book. The most extensive developmental editing may involve adding, deleting, and rearranging entire chapters.

As I’ve hinted, the boundaries between each editing level can get fuzzy, with two editors defining the same service differently. So that you don’t end up surprised at what you pay for, take time to understand the type of services that each copyeditor provides and ask questions for clarification.

  1. Be prepared to pay accordingly

As you shop around for copyeditors, you may find that the best charge a lot. Even cheaper editors may charge hundreds of dollars for a book-length manuscript.

Here’s the thing: if you want to sell books, you must invest money. Traditionally published authors don’t have to pay their in-house editors because the publishers are the ones investing. (Even so, some trad authors hire an editor to brush up a manuscript before submission.) If you’re self-publishing, you’re footing the bill in exchange for the benefits of self-publishing.

Thus, don’t skimp on your editing budget. A well-paid editor will be able to spend more time and care improving your manuscript, and you may even need to pay more money to cover unexpected costs, such as your line editor alerting you to high-level issues with your story.

If you don’t have a large budget, go with the editing level you can afford. If you’re friends with prospective editors, you may even be able to negotiate, such as bartering some of your writing services for your freelance editor’s business.

  1. Receive editing suggestions with humility

When you receive your manuscript back, you may want to sit down. Depending on the editing level, you may have many correction marks and comments on your manuscript. An editor may even leave a query questioning the existence of an entire scene or chapter.

Don’t take it personally. If an editor is a true professional, any corrections or suggestions are made to be improvements for your manuscript, not as an attack against you as a person. Published authors have survived the editing process, so you will too!

Take a moment to understand why an editor might’ve made a particular comment. More times than not, the editor has a point, and you should take that advice.

  1. . . . but know when to stand your ground

At the same time, you don’t have to accept every single edit. You shouldn’t reject everything, but you do get the last say as the self-publisher.

Also, editors are human too. A commonly accepted line of thought is that an editor has a 5 percent margin of error; that’s about five missed errors for every ninety-five corrections.

Recognize when a copyeditor makes a wrong correction or misses an obvious error, and bring it up when discussing the edits.

Side note: That 5 percent margin is why most publishing houses hire multiple editors for a project, often including a proofreader for the remaining errors. You may want to look into proofreading services too.

Beyond the first edit

If you’re fortunate, you may have a great experience with your copyeditor, and you’ll become a regular collaborator.

A writer-editor relationship can be wonderful. As you give an editor more manuscripts, that editor learns more about your style and how to better reach your book’s ideal version. A repeat editor is also helpful if you write a series, as having the same person working on subsequent installments will increase consistency and continuity.

A copyeditor is worth it if you want to make self-publishing a career. I hope you find the editor to stay with you your entire career.

Over to you: What’s YOUR experience with working with copyeditors? What advice do YOU have for other authors for editorial collaboration?

Elizabeth Javor Outskirts Press

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process 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, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

Reposting Original Book Review: The Winds of Malibu: An Unexplainable Memoir by Jeff Lucas

The Winds of Malibu: An Unexplainable Memoir by Jeff Lucas

All he wanted was another 1920s Hollywood Utopia!


The Winds of Malibu is the true story of a boy whose father (a computer engineer with a grudge against Hollywood) has held on to a house in the movie colony of Malibu, California, after a bitter divorce. At the age of eleven, Lucas is fiercely bitten by the Acting Bug and does anything to act. A war between him and his controlling father regarding his Hollywood aspirations ensues amid crippling anxiety attacks. The story of an outrageous upbringing, where friends are preferable to parents, and Lucas relies on his diary to guide him. Lucas’s peers at school will become Hollywood’s top actors in the coming decade. The ultra-quirky, stormy, funny account of an extraordinary boy’s struggle to hang onto his dream.


It is perhaps unavoidably funny that I must now, as a reviewer, attempt to explain The Winds of Malibu: An Unexplainable Memoir to you. However, this is precisely the kind of humor author Jeff Lucas would find amusing himself. After all, what is a memoir but a sustained attempt to translate personal experience into a form that others understand? The book’s subtitle leaves its first hints of dark and sideways humor, the kind of humor that may take you into the trash heaps of Malibu and shadowy memories of childhood fears but also sees the virtue of getting bit in the buttocks by a neighbor’s dog.

I must admit I didn’t grow up in Malibu during the 1970s. Still, Lucas does a great job summoning the place for me, especially its ragtag bands of roving, undersupervised, and extremely hormonal children who found their best entertainment came from shoplifting the candy aisle at Trances Market and one-upmanship in sowing their earliest wild oats. This is not the Malibu of today, or at least not entirely, with horseback riding the unwashed hills still a typical family outing. Upon returning to this Malibu after several years away, Lucas must figure out exactly who he wants to be.

“What kind of juvenile delinquent are you?”

“A different kind, I suppose.”

Meanwhile, the conflict with his father is built up from the barest hints of foreshadowing (“My dad never had a true, trusted friend in his life. I hiked along and swigged water out of a shared thermos and thought about that.”) until the tension in their relationship reaches a fever pitch (“It was beautiful not to see my father’s face.”). All the while, Lucas lays out his days at school in Malibu, growing up and performing on the school stage alongside Emilio Estévez and others. (Ironically, I had just watched Estévez’s movie The Public shortly before picking up this book. Sometimes, the universe lines things up like that.) Lucas manages to sketch the many joys, impossibilities, and trials of youth by including selections from his diaries and other ephemera. The alternation between these sections and more traditional prose forces the reader to slow down and engage with each moment as it takes place on the page.

Although I grew up worlds away from Jeff Lucas, The Winds of Malibu: An Unexplainable Memoir did a fantastic job of acquainting me with the time and place. There’s an artfulness to the simplicity of his sentences and to the dialogue that reflects, in many ways, how young people see the world: deceptively simple on the surface but roiling with emotion and nuance underneath. But far and away, the book’s most compelling part was the

through-line of Lucas’s struggles with anxiety. His world was full of constant change despite his story of repeatedly returning to his father’s house in Malibu, and his mental health struggles make perfect sense in that context—although not the kind of sense that makes anxiety any easier to live through. His struggles feel very real and also very much a part of the larger architecture of this memoir, which chronicles not just a time and place and the boy who grew up within it, but also the sense of something lost that can never quite be found.

A quick reader’s advisory note: This book does deal with a good amount of “adult content,” which makes sense given the time and place (1970s Malibu and Hollywood), so be aware of that.


A deeply personal and yet humorous account of one boy’s coming of age in Malibu, The Winds of Malibu: An Unexplainable Memoir is rich with juicy tidbits about Hollywood’s new elite. The story gathers further interest as it explores the conflict between father and son as the author battles to join his schoolmates’ names on the big screen.


Learn more about The Winds of Malibu: An Unexplainable Memoir on the book’s Outskirts Press author page.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


ABOUT KENDRA M.: With nine years in library service, six years of working within the self-publishing world, as well as extensive experience in creative writing, freelance online content creation, and podcast editing, Kendra seeks to amplify the voices of those who need and deserve most to be heard.

Reposting Original Book Review: A Sense of Urgency by Patrick McLean (Fiction)

A Sense of Urgency
by Patrick McLean


Baseball franchise moves can break your heart.

Mark Weber, President & CEO of the St. Louis Cardinals, thought he had landed his dream job. Little did he know it would turn into a nightmare shortly after management changes at the parent company Rheinhold Brewing Company.

Christina Rheinhold, newly installed President & CEO of the company that bears her name, is anxious to keep the small brewery afloat. What better way than to shed nonbeer assets? Especially if you don’t even care about the team, purchased by her father when In-Bev acquired Anheuser-Busch, and they were also in an off-loading situation. Christina [is] well aware of the 125-year-plus tradition of the team in St. Louis, but it [is] very tempting to sell the team to out-of-town parties for top dollar.

Can Mark, with the help of natural and even supernatural support, save the team for the city and its fans?


Baseball! So many different aspects of my life seem to tell me I should brush up on my (nearly nonexistent) knowledge of the sport. I spent my middle and high school years abroad in a country where baseball doesn’t exist, which probably explains why I know so little about the sport—including its history and its significance to Americans today. There are some similarities across sports: baseball and cricket, for example, are both considered “gentlemen’s sports” in that competition coexists with camaraderie, and umpires are as important as the players, their calls are of the utmost importance, and sassing an umpire is as gross a misdemeanor as exists. In many other ways, though, baseball and the culture that has formed around it is utterly unique. In A Sense of Urgency, Patrick McLean captures much of the detail and texture of daily life with baseball and infuses his book with the spirit of the same.

Like the sport itself, A Sense of Urgency is a dialogue-driven read. Thumb your way through the book, and you’re liable to land on a series of pages where most of the text printed on that page is spoken aloud by one character or another. McLean is somewhat unusual in this—in writing, I mean. My personal addiction when writing is to scenic description (sometimes, I think it’s all I know how to write), which was fairly common among the writers I became acquainted with back in college. There are also plenty of authors addicted to what you might call the Infodump, or worldbuilding, without much action in some genres. In moderation, both worldbuilding and scenic description can be useful. Still, as most of you can probably attest, something needs to happen in a book to keep the momentum going and readers engaged. Too much summary description of the action as it unfolds can come off as distant. (“He ran, then he stopped. He ate a sandwich. Then he moved to Alaska to learn how to muster sled dogs.”) It’s almost as if some writers (me included) can completely forget about the power of dialogue—but not Patrick McLean.

One of the benefits of a dialogue-driven book is that it doesn’t come off as teasing or deliberately disingenuous to withhold certain information until the critical moments in which those details are essential. A third-person omnipresent narrator, however, knows everything the character knows and can therefore be something of a tease in books that depend on the timing of those details for plot momentum and reader interest. (For example, if an author knows that it was Lady Scarlett in the dining room with the candlestick but asks me to consider the butler and Colonel Mustard as primary suspects, I start to wonder what else the narrator is hiding from me. And then I start skimming ahead. Because sometimes, I’m a very impatient reader! Whoops.) With dialogue, though, an author is fully justified in only conveying what the characters know or are willing to share at the moment since their voices are the only (or at least the dominant) voices on the page. This comes in very handy in A Sense of Urgency.

Dialogue also conveys personality and regionality like no other text can. Speech patterns, dialect, and idioms tell people who we are when we speak, more than our clothes and résumés since we can put on costumes and brag as much as we like. However, how we communicate and talk to each other will always reveal who we are underneath the affectations and behavioral habits we acquire.

When it comes to plot, there’s not much I can tell you about A Sense of Urgency that’s not already in the description without spoiling key details. Still, as the omnipresent narrator of this review, I’m going to tease you with hints at what you’ll discover when you crack open a copy for yourself. McLean’s command of the details is exquisite. (Who wears loafers without socks??! Who are these people? My mother would be mortified if she were caught out of doors without socks in her sneakers. I, meanwhile, wear sandals until the snow is thicker than the soles of my sandals. Then I switch to boots. I do not loaf. You’ll have to read on to discover why this is important in the book.)

The little things aren’t always little in this book. But that could also be a hint of misdirection; a Colonel Mustard moment of mine, if you will. (See? Don’t you hate it when a narrator tortures you? McLean doesn’t do this thanks to his dialogue-driven approach.) The Cardinals are more than just a team. Security is called to escort people out . . . and there are several moments where things get “a little dicey,” to steal an expression from the book. There’s plenty of drama to go around. But I won’t embarrass myself by trying to replicate McLean’s command of how baseball works and will simply state, instead, that this is a book focused on the game and what the game makes possible in the lives of those involved in it.

If you like baseball, or even if you know nothing about baseball but enjoy seeing just desserts dished out by knowledgeable and passionate characters, this is a book to add to your reading list.


While the world keeps reminding me that Americans play baseball and not cricket, A Sense of Urgency pairs the sport with storytelling bound to appeal to fans and newcomers alike. And yes, Patrick McLean really does convey . . . a sense of urgency . . . in this compelling slice of life narrative.


Learn more about Patrick McLean’s work on the book’s Outskirts Press author page.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

* Courtesy of Outskirts Press book listing.


ABOUT KENDRA M.: With nine years in library service, six years of working within the self-publishing world, as well as extensive experience in creative writing, freelance online content creation, and podcast editing, Kendra seeks to amplify the voices of those who need and deserve most to be heard.

How to Include Images in Your Book Without Getting in Trouble

Image permissions are one area where I advise authors to be careful. If you include a photo, illustration, or another image in your book without understanding its copyright, the image’s owners can send you a cease-and-desist to compel you to remove their image—or even worse, they may sue!

Fortunately, it’s easy to learn the fundamentals of image permissions. Now, this doesn’t cover the full extent of copyright laws. However, I’m here to teach you the importance of terminology, how to obtain images legally, and when you should consult an attorney.

The Keywords of Image Permissions

The cornerstone of image permissions is copyright. Under U.S. law, a copyright is an intellectual property that protects the owner’s right to an original, fixed work, such as an image.

Usually, a work’s creator gains ownership of the work’s copyright. So, if you take a photograph of your garden for your photography book, then you’re the copyright owner.

But what if you want to use an image and don’t have the copyright?

First, check if an image is in the public domain. Public domain means anyone can use the image without permission. A work enters the public domain if it’s old enough or the creator intentionally places it there.

In these cases, double-check before using an image, but public domain images are especially useful if they’re relevant to your book’s subject.

However, what if an image is still under copyright law? Look into fair use when one is allowed to use work even under intellectual property law. Sadly, this is more complicated, but you’re more likely to be able to use an image under fair use if your book is noncommercial or for a nonprofit educational context.

But if you intend to sell a book, especially for entertainment purposes, then your opportunities for fair use are more limited.

In many cases, your ability to use an image in your book will likely come down to requesting permission from the copyright holder. This can be a complex process, but it’s safer than relying on fair use, and you’d earn both legal protection and the good graces of the image owner.

How to Obtain Images for Your Book

You may also be interested in finding artwork for your book cover or finding an illustration for the interior.

As previously mentioned, the most legally straightforward way of obtaining an image is by creating it yourself. By doing so, you control how the image appears and own the copyright.

However, not all authors have the talent to create an image up to fluff. If you aren’t already a cover designer, I recommend not designing your cover, as a bad cover can alienate potential readers.

Another way of getting images is to get stock photos. Stock photos are made to serve many purposes; many are royalty-free and free to obtain. Some websites I sometimes peruse for this blog include Unsplash, Pixabay, and Pexels.

Royalty-free images are nifty in having no strings attached, but the downside is that no strings attached mean anyone can use these images. Then if you decide to use free stock photos for your cover art, you risk customers recognizing your image from somewhere else and dismissing you as a cheapskate.

You can instead opt for paid stock photos. Some websites that provide paid stock photos include Adobe Stock and iStock.

Of course, getting a paid stock photo means paying money for permission, but you’re less likely to share a similar cover as another author, especially if you buy exclusive rights. Just check the license when you pay for a photo; some licenses may limit how you can use the image and for how long.

The last option is to commission an image. You can reach out to an artist and sign a contract for them to create an image to your liking. For many authors, this is the best option: you can have a professional create an image and tailor the contract to obtain the rights you want for the image from the creator.

But with paid stock art, the downside to commissions is still money, and you must oversee negotiating the contract. However, you could alleviate this if you barter with a mutual connection by offering some of your writing services to pay for the commission.

When to get a professional for permissions

Sometimes, you can’t handle permissions on your own, especially if you must obtain a specific image for your book.

At this point, it’s prudent to consult a permissions lawyer or another expert on book permissions. Fortunately, many attorneys are open to giving a free consultation before taking your case, but consider how much you’re willing to pay.

And this is when one of the perks of traditional publishing comes in: if your book gets acquired by a press, they’re likely to have a rights and permissions manager, or even an entire department,

that can work to secure that image. Just be prepared to learn that paying for a specific permission may be too much for their budget.

But if you’re aiming for a small press or self-publishing, don’t fret. There are many ways to obtain images for your book without breaking the law, especially if you’re open to using a different option. After all, the image is not what will make your book successful, but rather your writing.

Over to you: What’s YOUR experience with including images in YOUR book? What options are YOU considering the most for obtaining images?

Elizabeth Javor Outskirts Press

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process 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, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

Reposting Royalene Doyle’s Conversation on DON’T FORGET AUTOBIOGRAPHIES AND MEMOIRS!

Just yesterday, a neighbor asked me a few questions about the “easy way” to pull the time-frames together as he writes his Memoir. Then he wondered: “Is a memoir the same as an autobiography?”

There was a time in my early writing career when these two categories were quite different, the memoir focusing on one brief period of time in someone’s life and the autobiography creating as complete a picture (from birth to present time) of a living person’s whole life. However, today, all the major bookstores I visit combine these two genres in one area: Autobiographies. So does Amazon, even to the point of blurring the lines between all three classifications (biographies, autobiographies and memoirs).

However, as I did my research for this month’s blogs, I came across an interesting quote from the famous writer Gore Vidal who wrote two personal memoirs: “A memoir is how one remembers one’s own life, while an autobiography is history, requiring research, dates, facts double-checked.” I like the clarity of that definition, and plan to use it when talking with future clients. So it is that I’ve given myself a brief bullet point outline and will share it with you today.

The Memoir:

  • Written in 1st person—the “I did this” perspective.
  • Uses less formal language/word choices.
  • Focuses on one (or two) main events/times in a person’s life, but can include birth date and short paragraphs of early memories.
  • Speaks from the more emotional perspective—how they felt when events occurred.
  • Dates/places may not be exact, such as: I was about 33 when I began this career.

The Autobiography:

  • Although “written by” the individual person(s), it often requires the assistance of a “collaborative writer.” Superb example: Having Our Say by Sarah and Elizabeth Delany with Amy Hill Hearth (Amazon lists this as a biography when it is clearly an autobiography. Grrr)
  • Offers their life history from birth to present day.
  • Written with detailed chronology facts of personal, political and/or world events, places, and the people they met and interacted with along the way.
  • Authors must also consider who they are writing this book for—their audience—and what aspect of their life is most useful to those Readers.

When I was teaching in a school setting (versus my workshops today), I loved to lunch with the teachers of World History and American History. These inspired people were always telling me about the latest autobiography (or biography) they’d discovered. Of course, the first autobiography they assign to students is Ann Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl. These books not only reveal historic events,” one teacher told me, “they demonstrate the strength people have to survive great tribulations in life which shows our students that they, too, can survive life’s challenges.”

picture of Anne Frank's Diary

SO…have you added a bunch of books to your resources bookshelves this month? I hope you’ve selected a few. The individuals you’ll be reading about will, indeed, enlighten you and the author’s writing techniques will be instructive, too. Take time to talk with your local librarian about these genres and the people (subjects) who might be most interesting to you—who have lived in a time period you’re intrigued by or succeeded in a career that is appealing to you.

Then…once you’re comfortable with the flow of these books, look around for potential clients. I’ve worked with a ninety-year-old who could tell me his life stories all day long and barely need a break for lunch. And, I’ve worked with a gentleman who gave me several pages he started writing “years ago,” then gave me additional outline points, but passed away before we could meet again. Yes, being the “writing assistant” to people seeking help with these genre categories of writing can be an emotional rollercoaster. Yet, I wouldn’t trade those days/months for anything. My writing skills and abilities have been sharpened by the experiences and so will yours. ⚓︎

ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene has been writing something since before kindergarten days and continues to love the process. Through her small business—DOYLE WRITING SERVICES—she brings more than 40 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their projects. She developed these blogs for Outskirts Press (OP) a leading self-publisher, and occasionally accepts a ghostwriting project from one of their clients. Her recent book release (with OP) titled FIREPROOF PROVERBS, A Writer’s Study of Words, has received excellent reviews including several professional writer’s endorsements given on the book’s back cover.

Royalene’s writing experience grew through a wide variety of positions from Office Manager and Administrative Assistant to Teacher of Literature and Advanced Writing courses and editor/writer for an International Christian ministry. Her willingness to listen to struggling authors, learn their goals and expectations and discern their writing voice has brought many manuscripts into the published books arena. December 2017 marked the end of Royalene’s tenure at Self Publishing Advisor. and we will be spending the next few weeks celebrating some of her all-time hits, her most well-received articles for our blog, in thanks for years of generous service.