Editing Your Own Book

Last summer, I gave away copies of my latest book, "A Promise Is A Promise" ISBN 0982459505 at my high school reunion to 22 people. My husband and I had a delightful evening, reminiscing with my former classmates. One of the men at my table happened to be a former neighbor when we were growing up. We rode the same school bus. His family bought gas at my parents filling station.

A discussion was started with this man and his wife about my book writing. I admitted I wished all my books were better edited. I’ve had some editing help over the years and constructive criticism from a former teacher which I greatly appreciated, but I hated to always ask her to help me. I’m sure when she first offered she thought I might write one book and no more. The task of editing a book is a large one for anyone who didn’t expect to get paid for their efforts. Anyone who volunteered to edit one of my books could expect to find I liked to write books so the editing isn’t going stop with the next one. That is if the volunteer editor wants to read another book and another and another. That would be up to the volunteer.

Out of the blue after the reunion, I received an email offer from the classmate’s wife to edit my next book just for the privilege of reading it because she likes Amish stories. (Soon to be released "The Rainbow’s End – Nurse Hal Among The Amish – Book 2 . Now for me that is an offer I couldn’t refuse. A fresh eye. I feel as if a writer editing his/her own work is like a doctor treating himself or a lawyer defending himself. Not a good idea. When I read my work my brain reads the words the corrected way I know it should be and skips over the editing errors. Putting a story away and going back later does help find some mistakes. For me reading every other chapter works. That takes the story out of context so I’m reading the sentence structure more for errors rather than the story. Printing the story out to look at hard copy helps but ink is an expense. Takes most of a cartridge to print every manuscript. Even that doesn’t help me catch all the mistakes, because I am too close to the writing. However, I’m thinking giving someone else a hard copy to edit is worth the cost. I can afford a cartridge for that. I mailed a hard copy to my new editor right away.

I just got the manuscript back and the simple errors are so much easier to see once the correction is pointed out. I looked through the manuscript and can’t believe I made such mistakes. I emailed my new editor a thank you for the great job she did. She said she’d be glad to read the next story for me. I emailed back that the next book was a western sequel and not Amish. To my amazement, she emailed that she didn’t care. She likes my writing so much that she wants to read any book I write so send them to her. She says my writing is as good as Cindy Woodsmall and some of the Amish writers. What a compliment!

I find editing errors in almost every published book I read that experienced editors working for a publisher skipped over. I see the errors because I’m looking for them. Along with that, I watch sentence structure and the way a story is put together. All that is a learning experience for me. Does it take me longer to read a book than it would most people? It sure does, but watching how other authors write helps me become better as an author.

Editing by a professional is expensive. An expense that can leave a self published author in the red if the book doesn’t sell well. If I was well known and selling lots of books, I wouldn’t mind taking that expense off my income tax, but I have to get to that point first. I’m not there yet. I’ve heard of authors that spare no expense to self publish their work, go in debt and don’t sell enough books to pay the debt. I didn’t want that to happen to me.

That doesn’t change the fact I feel bad because of the mistakes in my book. I mention it to my book buyers once in awhile. Usually, they tell me that they are reading the book for the content. I write so well, they are absorbed in the story. They don’t notice editing mistakes while they are finding how what happens to the characters. One buyer brought one of my books to my attention. She thought I might like to know my editor missed four typos. I emailed her an apology with the explanation that I did my own editing. She was in awe that I could write a book that was that well done. I appreciated her comment. Still I stopped print on that book and reedited it to get rid of those four errors. Made me feel better.