I’ve talked a little about my experience in the world of self-publishing. Most of it is in a big picture kind of way. So, I thought it might be fun to get a little more specific and talk about editing. Well, maybe not fun, but at least informative. Because if you’ve diligently had butt in chair staring down the mocking blink of the cursor on your screen as you pull your prose from the ether, you will (or maybe already have) get to type THE END. You can do it. I believe in you.
But after that sometimes easy, occasionally fraught, experience comes an entirely different one. The editing process. I’m not talking about the one you do yourself. No, I’m talking about the one you do with professionals. The one where others less attached to your work will tell you which of your darlings you must kill. And you will kill them. Not all of them, but some.
You could do this yourself, but unless you have years of experience, I wouldn’t recommend it. Besides, you’re too attached to your work. You could give to a friend, but they’re likely to desire to spare your feelings, and not be one hundred percent honest with you. Unless they secretly hate you.
Or maybe there’s a local English teacher or writing teacher at the high school or college. Again, maybe it’ll be okay, but they also probably don’t have years of experience working in the publishing industry.
You can certainly do any of these things. After all, it’s your work, and I’m not the boss of you. But. Yes, there’s always a but. I’m going to suggest, in the strongest terms possible, you hire professional editors, yes editor with an s. You’ll need more than one. And you’ll need to know where to find them.
I’m certain, if you’re at this stage you’ve probably already typed ‘hire editor’, or some crap into Google, or Bing. I’m just messing with you. No one uses Bing. You’ll have a lot of choices; Upwork, Guru, Fiverr. Those are all fine places, or so I’ve heard from others. But I use Readsy. It’s just a personal preference. Your milage may vary. And while much of what I’m going to say is based on my experience on that platform, I’m sure it will be similar elsewhere.
And before I get into the nitty gritty of my editing experience, I want to tell you something I didn’t know so that you don’t think your going to publish far sooner than you really will. Then you won’t do something stupid like tell your family and friends your book will be on Amazon etc. months before it really will. And if you’re wondering, I totally didn’t do that. But anyway. I’m going to shout this part so it will stick. EDITING TAKES TIME. MORE OFTEN THAN NOT MONTHS. Okay, I’m done shouting. You can take your fingers out of your ears now.
Really though. It takes time. I finished Year Zero back in November and I’m just going to squeak in a May thirty-first release date. This is because, being a newbie, I was unaware how long each step took. So, what can you expect?
Expect each stage of the editing process to take at least two weeks for the actual edit. Going with my recommendations, you’re looking at six weeks. That will be (in order) developmental editing, copyediting, and proofreading. This doesn’t include hiring them in the first place. I would suggest allowing another week for that, though I’ve usually hired someone within three days because the folks at Readsy are robustly responsive. Still we’re now at nine weeks. I’d also recommend giving yourself another week to make any necessary changes when you get your editors’ report back. So now it’s twelve weeks. And you still don’t have a cover artist or interior designer.
A good technique I’ve stumbled upon is to try and stack them in advance. When you are hiring someone, you can determine the start date and end date. Again, I’d really recommend giving your pro’s two weeks to do their thing. But with that in mind you can hire all your professionals simultaneously. This wasn’t something I was aware of when I started my journey with Year Zero, so I ended up wasting a little time while I waited for my dev editor to send it back to me before I hired my copy editor. It resulted in having to move my release date from March until May. I’m certain my editing and book completion turnaround time will be much shorter on the next one because I’m already made my mistakes.
Now I (and you) know each step of the editing process will be about a month. Your cover artist will most likely need three to four weeks as well, and your interior designer another two weeks. With all this in mind you can now stack the work by hiring each with a start date about four or five weeks after the previous editor. You can hire the cover artist at any time because although your prose will change, the heart of your book will not, and that is what your book cover will try to convey.
You’ll still do a lot of waiting, though. And as a wise man once said, “the waiting is the hardest part.”