Editing Your Own Novel, is that Wise?

It depends. In the past, I’m sure this answer would have been a swift and boisterous no! The naysayers would give reasons for their objections, and lend credence to their opposing viewpoints by explaining publishers would pass them, actually meaning you, by.

In the past, I’m sure this answer was a swift and boisterous no! The naysayers reasoned out their objections, and lent credence to their opposing viewpoints by explaining publishers would pass them, actually meaning you, by.

However, with independent authors clamoring to get their stories online, editing is one of the last things on these authors’ minds. I’m not saying they wouldn’t like their book edited, or that the book isn’t edited at all, and even that they don’t have someone edit their books.

There are several reasons why independent authors choose to forego having their work edited by a professional. It’s the mentality of “take my work as is.” The idea that my words are gold; I am the author and you are the reader still exists. In a way, I can sympathize. I have this road I travel. Along that road, trees line both sides. Once leaves appear, I can no longer see what’s beyond the trees and bushes. My point, don’t get stuck on seeing your, (my) words as all important. My goal is to engage the reader through story. And while I write that storyline is developed. But, my focus is centered on the story and I forget words, phrases, adjectives, and adverbs that will make my work stand out.

Which leads to my next point. I’ve heard them say, “An editor will change my ideas.” That is true to an extent. So, I ask, “What do you mean exactly?” By the time we’ve discussed their fears, it comes down to  the same thing. “The editor will interject his/her voice into my piece and it will no longer be mine. First, the nature of editing is change. However, a good editor adapts to the author’s style. I believe these authors have just finished their beloved piece and can’t let go. That is understandable. I have the same problem with my own writing.

But, in my opinion, it all boils down to cash, cold hard cash that many new and even existing independent authors just do not have. With limited budgets, they are more likely to put money into marketing and advertising than using an editor. I must decide where to spend limited funds.  “Should I hire an editor, spending upward of $800.00 dollars to get my story polished or take half that amount and advertise my novel?” Making it prominent, hoping the story can withstand public scrutiny and have viable sales or take a chance on editing and their now polished and quality manuscript might not sell well is the big question for this over saturated market.

Can I blame them? No. The only way books sell is with people knowing iy is available. Is this wise. No!


I have found out the hard way if my words are not at their best, the reader puts the book away after half the book, maybe a few chapters, or even a page or two. The next thing they do is leave a scathing review. Not only is the story blasted, but the author personally. You see, consumers don’t care that we have spent countless hours writing, rewriting, waking in the night to add an idea only to find we’re still at the computer at dawn and it’s time to get the kids ready, partner out the door, and make ourselves presentable for our day jobs.

Readers today are savvy, have grown up with social media and expect the best to be available to them. Now, here is where I might add my spiel on hiring a good editor. Not so. I am guilty of all of the above. And I say to the independent author, “If you can edit your own work objectively, with a critical eye on style along with grammar and spelling I wish you the best, and go with that.” Tools are available for the self-editor. Grammarly is one that comes to mind.

However, if you, the author, find yourself immersed in the story through several self-edits, i.e. can’t see the forest for the trees idea above, then by all means hire a good editor. Either way, best of luck to you and your book.




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