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Guest Post - Why Your eBook Should Be Professionally Edited (and how to reduce the bill!)

Guest Post - Why Your eBook Should Be Professionally Edited (and how to reduce the bill!)


Self-publishing is a new trend that gives professional publishers nightmares, and rightly so. Let's face it, how many of us would ever get our books published if we had to go the traditional route? Did you know that Sylvester Stallone could not find a company to produce his first Rocky movie? Likewise, many now-famous authors were first rejected by publishers:  Agatha Christie is the highest selling author of all time, second only to William Shakespeare, but she was rejected for 5 years before landing a publishing deal.

In more modern times, we all know J.K. Rowling's story. And Dr. Seuss, who has more than 300 million sales, and is the 9th best-selling fiction writer of all times, was also rejected at first. The list goes on and it goes to show that many of us have great stories inside of us that, without self-publishing, would never be shared!


One of the main draws of self-publishing, and eBooks in particular, is the significantly reduced cost to getting your book on the virtual shelves.

Print-on-Demand and the significantly lower marketing costs are major pull-factors for first-time authors who want to break into the market. It makes it absolutely worth your while to use an eBook conversion service to help you with the technical aspects of creating an eBook. Everything seems easy and cost-effective, until you're told that the editor recommends that your eBook be proof-read or edited...

What the what?! That's the standard reaction of writers receiving an editing quote. You might consider all the late night hours that you sat at your PC, painstakingly writing your eBook. What does an editor know, other than fixing typos anyway? Besides, you're an AUTHOR. You can SPELL. You've written a BOOK, and now you want it published. Ain't nobody got time for proofreading and editing! Let's get that book on Kindle, pronto! 


Writing without revising is the literary equivalent of waltzing gaily out of the house in your underwear.” ― Patricia Fuller


Every eBook Should Be Professionally Edited recently published a blog post about the quality of eBooks, and attributed the fact that so many eBooks are riddled with typos to the following: "And the reason for so many typos here is that almost no self-publishers are passing their work under the nose of a professional editor."

Now, this is not a slant on you, the writer. The truth is that most editors have not published a book of their own, for one of two reasons:

  1. They don't have time to write it.

  2. They are too critical of their own work. 


And there's the crux of the matter:  Nobody can sub-edit their own work. It's simply not possible. A writer's eyes skip over his or her own mistakes, causing them to miss crucial mistakes that affect the readability of a piece.


Mistakes Your Editor Won't Miss


Editors are trained to pick up subtle nuances, mistakes and style issues in written text. They follow strict writing style-guides that best match your own unique style, to ensure that your writing is as captivating as your story.


Spellos & Typos, Grammatical Errors


Of course you can run spell-check - it is a handy tool. However, as an editor, I can tell you now that out of every 10 books or pieces that I edit, perhaps one is halfway spell-checked. Apart from the effort that goes into spell-check, there is the matter of regional dialects and differences in spelling. Have you noticed word-processing programs have an "Eng-US / Eng-UK / Eng-Aus" setting?  That's because the way in which English (alone) is used in different countries, differs. 

Depending on your target market, your editor will use the correct language. 

In South Africa, we call it a "boot". In America, it's a "trunk".  The same applies to many other words. 

Grammatical issues such as its / it's and incorrect word use almost always goes unnoticed in our own work. 


Sentence Structure & Wordiness


Every single book that we edit, contains several incomplete sentences. Sentence structure seems like such a complicated concept, but editors know how to pick up on it by reading attentively, something writers don't do when revising their own books. 

But there's more to sentence structure. See, there’s an incomplete sentence. Did you pick up on it?

If your sentences are not formed correctly, the reader's experience is negatively impacted and your story is lost. 

Do you read James Patterson’s novels? Then you would know that less is more. His chapters are two pages on average, but each word captivates and engages the reader.


So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.” ― Dr. Seuss




Of course you're an expert on your topic - it goes without saying. However, we live in the information age and people want proof. Just because you know it to be a fact, is not enough to convince a critical audience. Therefore, an editor is your partner in building authority

By hiring an editor who is also an expert researcher, you can rest assured that your eBook is not only factually correct, but that your facts are proven by legitimate sources. This is particularly important for self-help books or medical pieces.

As you can see, there's much more to proofreading and editing than just checking for spelling mistakes or typos. 


Tips to Reduce the Editing Fee


“I've found the best way to revise your own work is to pretend that somebody else wrote it and then to rip the living sh*t out of it.”
Don Roff


Of course you want to keep your publishing costs down to a minimum, and we want to help you do just that. While it can't substitute professional proofreading and editing, these tips will help reduce the amount of time an editor has to spend on your eBook:


1.  Read through your finished manuscript

Read aloud, and even record your voice, if you can, but don't drone on. Read as though you're recording for the library for the blind. This will help you pick up on incomplete sentences and grammatical errors.

2.  Fix typos and spelling

Set your word processor to the country preference of your target audience, and run the spell-checker. 

3.  Print out your eBook

It's often easier to pick up on errors in print than it is on screen. A screen can make the eyes lazy and they will simply glide over the typing. When you print it out, instead, you will find the mistakes popping out from the pages.

While it may seem trivial to bother with typos (everyone makes mistakes!) when you're raring to get that book onto eBook readers around the world, you have to consider your readers. Errors reflect poorly on you as the author, and it affects the readability for readers.


“There are two typos of people in this world: those who can edit, and those who can't.” 

Jarod Kintz, This Book is Not FOR SALE


What Goes Into Your Editing Quote


Whenever you submit your manuscript for editing and proof-reading, the professional editor should spend some time on the following tasks:

  • Reading several pages to understand the flow;

  • Making editorial notes regarding the sentence structure, target audience, flow and plot;

  • Checking the flow of your sentences for readability and transitions between paragraphs and chapters;

  • Reviewing your writing style and tone;

  • Assessing the magnitude of spelling and grammatical errors. 


Your editorial quote is then based upon the amount of time it takes to edit a random test page within your eBook manuscript. The time is multiplied by the amount of pages in your book, and the editor's hourly rate is applied. 

See, it might take you 25 hours to write your eBook, and another R5, 000 to edit and publish it. I don't know what an hour is worth to you, but let's be fair and put your 25 hours at R5,000 too. That's a total cost of R10, 000 for your eBook. If you sold your eBook for $8 / R80 (average price as of July 2014), you'd only have to sell 125 copies to break even.  Whatever you sell after that, is profit, and if you sell that many copies, you should be well on your way to becoming a force to be reckoned with in the eBook industry.

Your editor, on the other hand, paid his or her rent with the money you paid for editing services, and continues to slog away on other authors' books, with no time to break into the market and become a contender for your number one spot on the best-sellers list. 


Do yourself (and your readers!) a favour and have a professional editor take a look at your manuscript. 



This guest post was submitted by Lizette Balsdon, a professional editor and proof-reader and founder of  ContentCafe




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