Can I edit my own self-published book?
Can I edit my own self-published book? Yes.
Can I fix my own boiler? Yes.
Can I manicure my own nails? Yes.
It’s true. Yes, you can do all these things alone, BUT you probably won’t do a great job unless you’re professionally trained to do so.
Hiring a Professional Book Editor
Just the same as with any other service, a professional book editor’s role is to do an excellent job at something you don’t have the training, skills, or knowledge to do well on your own. Professional services exist for a reason. I mean, sure, you could do your own manicure at home, but no matter how many painstaking hours you put in, those nails won’t look as neat as your nail tech could achieve in less than two hours at the salon. Likewise, you could watch every video tutorial available and still not have the hands-on experience or know-how to fix a broken boiler so that it doesn’t come back to bite you with the same problem plus knock-on issues later down the line.
And when it comes to self-publishing, you could theoretically do it all on your own: the editing, the proofreading, the formatting, the cover design, the marketing, the website, the distribution, the communication…
But to do all those things to a professional standard, you’ll have to spend a whole lot of years training, studying, practicing, getting it wrong, learning from your mistakes, training some more, and so on and so forth…before you even start to think about the book you were hoping to publish ASAP.
And did I mention professional training is expensive, and experience takes years to build up, and in the time that it would take to acquire all these specific skills, you could’ve probably written a dozen novels and more?
Exactly—it would’ve been cheaper/easier/better to hire a pro!
Self-Editing Your Book
Obviously, a DIY approach can substantially reduce the up-front cost of self-publishing—because let’s be real, publishing a book is expensive—and for many self-publishing authors, it’s the only available route to publication. Nobody is “wrong” or inherently bad for choosing to DIY their publishing journey; we all do what works best for us, and that’s just the way it is.
However, in the long-term, if you’re serious about standing out among the millions of other books out there, DIYing your book is a decision that may prove to be costly, and in more ways than just financially.
So, why is that?
When you publish a book that hasn’t been professionally edited, you risk negative feedback on a greater scale than you would expect from a professionally edited book. Now, as an author, to some extent, you can’t control what your readers will think of your work—because reading is subjective, and we all have different tastes. But negative feedback from readers who are growing quickly frustrated by errors that might’ve unknowingly slipped in is avoidable, and it’s something you should pay attention to.
Devoted as readers are, they’re also perceptive, and a slew of typos or inconsistencies—just some of the issues you’d hire a professional editor to pick up on—are not only off-putting, but potentially insulting to a reader who’s spending time and money on your work. If these issues aren’t addressed by the second book in a series, or in any future novels you put out there, this negative feedback will eventually turn your readers away.
And isn’t it a shame to think your book could be tossed aside by its target audience simply because it wasn’t given a professional polish?
Do You Need to Hire an Editor for Your Self-Published Book?
Don't worry, I hear you: “But I’m a great writer—I won’t have any typos in my work! Does this advice really apply to me?”
As a full-time professional editor, I work with incredible writers every day. Writers who make my jaw drop in awe, whose words inspire tears of real emotion, whose stories resonate in a place so deep within that I find myself thinking about their beautiful words often, even months after I’ve finished editing a manuscript and the book’s sitting proudly on the shelf in my office in its published form.
By all accounts, any of those writers could have rushed to publish their book without consulting a professional editor first, and their less-perceptive readers may not have picked up on a single error.
But the one thing those authors all have in common is the understanding that editing is not only an essential part of the publishing process, but an essential part of your growth as a writer.
What Can a Professional Book Editor Help You With?
You can learn a lot from a professional editor, even if you’re already a skilled, talented, and experienced writer. Aside from addressing the obvious spelling, punctuation, and grammar concerns (and believe me, even the most experienced of authors leave a trail in their wake!), a professional editor can:
Edit your book according to industry-standard style guides (such as the Chicago Manual of Style for US fiction or New Hart’s Rules for UK fiction) to make it consistent with the traditionally published best sellers you’d expect to buy in stores. This is a whole skill set in itself. Seriously, don’t underestimate just how huge these tomes are or how many rules and nuances of language there are to learn.
Work with you to develop your plot, characters, worldbuilding, themes, and more.
Give a second opinion on areas of your story that may need to be revised or rewritten, as well as any areas that are working especially well.
Offer an unbiased opinion. Unlike friends and family, an editor prioritizes your story over any sore feelings (although, really, I promise we’re not out to criticize! My comments are constructive, not catty).
Save you money in reprints and corrections by vastly reducing the risk of embarrassing typos, errors, and inconsistencies in your published book.
Address your narrative voice, style, and tone. Essentially, the mature aspects of writing that develop over years of experience.
Edit your work with a variety of different professional editing software and tools to further reduce the risk of errors, inconsistencies, and typos in your published book. (Professional editing software can be costly to purchase and complicated to use without any prior experience. Professional editors are usually also trained in how to use the more advanced features of software such as Microsoft Word, to streamline the editing process even further, and it’s likely you’ll learn something new from reviewing your editor’s work!)
Assist you with writing and editing marketing copy, including your cover text, book description, and author bio. You’ll want these to be in great shape editorially to attract the attention of readers and book promotion services alike.
Save you wasting time on rewrites, restructures, and revisions. A professional editor will pinpoint areas of your story that aren’t working, but also areas that are absolutely fine. With all the stress of self-publishing already, it can be nice to take a step back from your manuscript for a while and get a professional’s reassurance that you’re doing a great job.
If you’re thinking of hiring a professional editor for your self-published book, please take a look at my portfolio while you’re here! You can read reviews from authors who’ve already used my affordable book editing services and see what they have to say about the benefits of hiring me to edit your book. Alternatively, if you’re interested in viewing my full list of affordable book editing services, please click here, or to view my current rates, click here instead.