Editors cost a lot of money, so when authors pay for editing services, they expect amazing results. They expect zero errors or a very, very small percentage.
That’s something we should be able to demand. Right?
Yes, but only if you’re doing your job right to begin with.
Good editors try their best to provide this level of service no matter what they’re handed. When you’ve found a good one, you want to keep her and the way to do that is to understand how best to fill her needs.
Here’s a list of three things to do when working with your editor in order to obtain the cleanest manuscript possible.
Keep in mind that if you feel triggered by any of these statements, these are weaknesses you might have. You’re here because you want to make this your career, or you want to be successful.
Ask yourself when you feel the rising anger, stress, and anxiety:
Is this hitting a little close to home? Why?
Do I want my author career to be an important investment in my life? How can I make that happen?
Am I going to run from this or am I going to find a way and grow from it?
3. The cleaner you make your manuscript, the more we can help make it perfect.
I really wish this was a no brainer, but it isn’t. A lot of authors tell themselves they don’t have time to clean up their manuscript, they write a really clean first draft, or that’s what they hired an editor to do.
Look, if you’re using your editor to clean up your first draft, you’re wasting her time and your money. What you’re showing her is that you don’t care enough about your manuscript to give it the time it deserves.
Why should she?
Unless! There is an unless here. If you've hired her specifically to clean up that first draft, then you're hiring with the right intention. But if you've hired a line editor or proofreader to clean up the first draft, then you haven't.
2. Read your genre.
A lot of authors miss this mark thanks to the craziness of 2018-2019. They don’t want to read their competition so they don’t accidentally fall under “pink plagiarism.”
What they fail to keep in mind is that there are certain nuances each genre has that will make your book stronger faster and easier if you just invest a little time doing your homework first. If your intent is to launch a book that sells in any given genre, you should know what makes a good book in that genre. You should know what readers expect.
And you shouldn’t rely on your editor to give you that information every time even if you are paying for a developmental edit.
1. Order the edit you need, not the one you think you can afford.
This is a tough one for a lot of authors. We have an overwhelming mountain of pain we’re trying to confront. We don’t have enough money, which means we need to invest more time in our projects. But we don’t have more time to invest because we’re time-destitute, so we need to pay for others to help. However, we couldn’t afford to hire anyone in the first place, so now we have to shop around for cheaper services, which means we’re either paying for lower-level proofs or we’re paying for inexperience.
Listen, we’ve all been there, but you need an edit. That’s one thing you really shouldn’t skimp on. And you should pay for the edit you need.
This is a big issue that deserves more attention, so I'm going to break this down for you a little bit and put you in the shoes of your editor. Why do a lot of editors refuse to tell you that you need a more expensive edit? Here are three big reasons.
1. We don’t want the conflict. When you’re stressed, your frustration tolerance is so low you don’t react to conflict or stress-inducing situations well.
Being an indie author service provider isn’t an easy, stress-free job. A lot of us live gig to gig, so when one of our appointments doesn’t go well, there’s the knowledge that the mortgage might not get paid. That’s the life we chose. There are ways to manage that, but it takes a while to build up that kind of capital, especially when you’re the breadwinner.
If the author decides you’re the straw that broke her back, your name is being taken through the mud and the business you’ve built to put food in your family’s mouth is under attack.
Conflict costs money. So, the thought of telling an author her proof needs a developmental edit gives us high anxiety of the living-on-the-street kind.
2. It’s easier to just do the extra work at a reduced cost than to build you back up as an author. Let’s face a hard truth. We’re all pretty close to our breaking point. Being an indie author isn’t easy. We push ourselves hard, and then when the going to gets tough, we push ourselves harder. We push ourselves sick. We push ourselves sleep-deprived, into poor eating habits, into drinking habits, into caffeine habits, into car accidents, into debt collection, into failed marriages.
Guys, this career can and has devoured people. There’s a reason so many RIA articles focus on balance instead of grammar and marketing. When you fail, it will be because you failed to manage your schedule, your budget, and your business.
And we feel that pain as your team member because that’s what we are. We’re not just another nameless drone you pay to polish your book. If you treat us right, we’ll be on board as a member of your author tribe.
But when we give you the information you need, sometimes we find ourselves investing hours of free time—family time—building you back up and sometimes we lose. So, we either invest the time to tell you that you really can be successful at this because you really are a great author. That can take hours, days, weeks. Years. Or we sacrifice some family time and give you the edit you really needed, setting the precedent of service that this is acceptable and should be expected of other editors in the field.
3. Telling you a deeper, more expensive edit is needed most likely means a lost gig. Authors in the deficit mindset will take this information and go to someone else or will simply refuse to edit their book, relying on editing software instead. Both of these approaches lead to the editor losing a bill-paying gig for doing the right thing. Additionally, that author mostly likely won’t sell well because of the business choices she’s making.
We can’t build a sustainable career as a service provider unless you’re working to sustain your career as an author. This isn’t a call for an “up sale.” This isn’t us trying to suck as much money out of you as we can.
This is business. If you sell well, you’ll pay for our services as long as we’ve made the cut to be on your team.
You want the editor who will champion for you. You want the editor who will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.
We want you to succeed because, otherwise, we don’t have a business and neither do you.