With my first book, I hired a professional editor. I paid a lot of money to have my work fine-tuned and, I thought, perfected. How did that work out?
Actually, I had readers complain about the errors and grammar. I was not pleased.
With my second book, rather than hire a professional editor, I had a few people with a good eye to edit my book for me. One of these people actually complained about how my first book had many 'distracting' errors, so I thought this would be the perfect person to help. How did that go?
People complained about the errors and grammar.
By this point, I wanted to quit writing. I tried the two logical ways to resolve this issue only to get shit on regardless, so clearly I was hesitant to try again.
Did I mention that most of my biggest critics were other writers?
At any rate, I feel I've since worked out the kinks. Now that I decided to not allow these criticisms from holding me back from doing what I love, this seems to be less and less of a problem. Having said that, I will make a few suggestions for other writers about to start the editing process.
- Check grammar, punctuation, spelling...you know the routine. I would suggest you also use something like Grammarly and I've also used Polishmywriting.com. Sometimes these sites catch things you might miss.
- Check for any unnecessary words. For example, I have a tendency to overuse the word 'just'; so I will go through my manuscript to see when it can get deleted. There are many other words like 'really' and I think 'always' is another one. I would do a Google search to see what other overused or unnecessary words you can cut out.
- Does everything make sense? Does your character's reaction fit his/her personality? Is that a normal reaction? I once read a well-known book where a character couldn't perform a very important task due to illness and had her (clearly) less mature and inexperienced friend take it on. Who does that? Most people would either keep looking or drag themselves from their death bed.
- Do things line up? Did your character schedule a party for next week and suddenly it's taking place a month later? Did she leave the house wearing a red dress and come home to remove a black one? Is she blonde in chapter one and suddenly a brunette in chapter two? These are errors that easily be made especially when you have a lot going on in your manuscript and many characters to keep track of.
- Not only do you need to worry about typos for regular words, what about very common names, places etc? Your character may live in 'Lonemon apartment buildings' in chapter three and 'Lomemon apartment buildings' in chapter twenty. It's easy to make this kind of mistake. I have a 'Maria' in my books but have checked through the final manuscript for 'Marie' just in case. It's so easy for your eye to miss this kind of error and even easier to do so when typing fast.
- It doesn't hurt to fact check if you aren't 100% sure of something. I have a lot of Spanish in my books so I often research to make sure I have the correct spelling and meaning. Sometimes I will check other things I'm iffy on; for example, is it 'toe the line' or 'tow the line'.
- Always have help. If you can't afford a super expensive editor, find some reliable friends and family members with a good eye. They may catch things you've missed along the way.
- You're not perfect and chances are some errors will still slip through. Don't hate yourself for it and certainly don't quit writing if it's your passion. No one is perfect. Not even other writers (or your critics)