Happy Editing Month, everyone. Didn’t know May was Editing Month? Well it is, because Lulu says it is! And we all have our virtual red pens poised and ready to edit some great books!
“I was an English major, so I don’t need editing.”
“My professor already edited it.”
“My mother was a teacher for 27 years; she can proofread it.”
We here at Lulu have heard every rationalization authors have for not investing in professional copy editing. It’s completely understandable—editing can be costly, especially if you have a very long manuscript. And for some, it may seem preposterous to pay someone else to do what your professor or a relative has already done.
So why should you consider a professional copy edit?
First, remember that, while it is great that you have friends or family that will closely read your book (trust me, not everyone is that lucky!), more than likely, these people are not editors by trade. A teacher is not an editor. An English major, while he or she may have a better grasp on the English language than most, probably isn’t up-to-date on the changing style rules. (The Chicago Manual of Style is on its 16th edition—which edition is that dusty copy of yours?) Not to mention, your friend knows how hard you’ve worked on your book and may be afraid to tell you that your dialogue is dry and unrealistic, or that Chapters 9 through 14 go off on a tangent they didn’t understand. An editor doesn’t know you from Adam, and isn’t concerned with hurting your feelings—they want your book to be as good as it possibly can be.
Second, a proofread is not a copy edit. What your friends are probably doing for you is checking for typos and grammar mistakes. While these are, of course, very important, they only scratch the surface of what a true editor looks at in a manuscript. A professional editor is also looking at syntax, word choice, organization, plot and character development, text flow, inconsistencies in tense, among other issues.
Third, consider the value that a copy edit will add to your book. You wouldn’t go out the door without looking in the mirror to make sure your shirt is buttoned correctly, right? Now imagine if you had a stylist from Vogue stopping you at the door each morning to tell you if your shoes are inappropriate for the interview/wedding/wrestling match you’re headed to. That’s what editing does for your book. It adds credibility—you obviously think so much of your book, and of the information you are relaying, that you won’t settle with only one pair of eyes going over it. Yes, the cost of editing might be higher than what you’d planned to spend on the whole pre-publishing process, but it’s really an investment in your book’s future. You’ve worked on this book for months, or maybe years—you certainly don’t want your reviews to start, “Great message overall, but couldn’t get past the glaring typos and strange sentence structure.”
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