You did it! You finally did it! You wrote the last line of an 80,000 word manuscript. What a great sentiment!
It is such an incredible feeling that I am unable to describe it, despite being a writer. I have written many books and published some of them. Nonetheless, published or unpublished, there is nothing like that feeling when you write that very last word of your manuscript, and you sit back and look at your work.
Aah, amazing, isn’t it?
But now, the real work only begins.
First Things First – You Need an Editor
Yes, that’s true. Writing a manuscript of 80,000 or even over a 100,000 words is bound to have errors, and I am not only talking about grammar and spelling. There is a lot more that could have been missed, like repetitions, unnecessary descriptions, paragraphs that do not relate to the story at all, and so on.
Someone who has not read your story, who is not attached to it (and to its characters) as you are, should have a look at it. An editor will tell you what needs to be changed, what should be deleted or added, and what makes no sense; and some editors will also tell you what they love about your story.
I used to work with an editor like that. She was absolutely amazing. While she pointed out everything that needed to be improved, changed, or deleted, she also often wrote comments in which she praised certain aspects, scenes, and characters of my books. I loved working with her, and it pained me to cancel her services after two years …
Why did I cancel?
I could no longer afford to pay for editing. First of all, I live in Mexico, and services that are offered to me over the internet (and in Mexico too, quite often …) are charged in US dollars (or in British pounds, as was the case with my favorite editor). The Mexican peso has lost much value over the last years, making any purchase in dollars very expensive. I could no longer do it, and I was heartbroken over it.
Editing is Essential
So, what did I do?
My first reaction wasn’t the best. I got a little depressed over the money situation. I started editing myself and realized that it was hard work which took a lot of time …
When I wanted to publish Tales from Los Cabos, I had no editor, but I didn’t want to do it myself. Although I had gone over the stories several times and made many corrections and some changes, I wanted a professional editor to go over it. This is a special book, I wrote the very first short story of this collection in the year 2000. So, if it took me eighteen years to finally publish it, I might as well do it right and get an editor.
I checked online, on Twitter, blogs, and Google, but I could find no attractive prices. Even the promotions and great deals were not great for me, because after the conversion from dollar to peso it still ended up costing me an arm and a leg. I didn’t know what to do …
Then I Got Lucky
For New Year’s Eve 2018, I was invited at a friend’s place. She has a beautiful lot near the beach, and we spent the night around a fire, with her and friends, drinking wine and having dinner, listening to music, and having a wonderful time. One of her friends was an editor, and we started talking. She offered to edit my work, FOR FREE! I was over the moon. I was so incredibly grateful for this! I couldn’t believe my luck, and I thanked the friend who had introduced me to her.
So, a few days later I sent her the first two short stories of Tales From Los Cabos. After she finished them, I sent her the next two. When she had questions or something wasn’t clear, she asked me about it. Everything went well. She worked fast and efficiently, and I thought that it would be prudent to set the publishing date for the beginning of April. At the rate she was going, I knew that I could do it, and even before I had met her, I had always envisioned April as my deadline. It worked out perfectly.
But Then, What Happened?
There were eleven stories in total, but after she edited the first four, she sent me a message, telling me that she was starting an online course, and that she would be too busy to continue editing my work. I understood, and since she had been doing it for free, I was hardly in a position to complain or demand that she finish the job 😉 So, I thought, OK, do the rest yourself, and you’re going to have to move the deadline back for a month. So, publication date was now set for May 2019.
Some Surprises Aren’t Always That Good …
After I received my edited work, I did go over a few pages, but not all. It all looked good from the beginning, and so I made the mistake to believe that everything else would be all right too. I focused on editing the rest of the stories, and I did my best to be as meticulous as I could be.
When it was finally time to publish, I was so excited. I already had a book cover too. Yay! Everything looked great. Tales from Los Cabos was now published in Kindle and Paperback form. After eighteen years! Wow!
I had even a reviewer signed up and I sent him a PDF of my book. Then I waited for the proof copy which Amazon sent me within a few days. God, it was exciting to hold that proof copy in my hands.
At home, I started reading my book, and I came across several errors … I felt terrible. The reviewer would also be seeing these mistakes. Some of them made me cringe. Some of them were even new … Errors such as pick uptruck, he was complete stranger, pick him from the airport, crash a plan (instead of plane), had only been hit tropical storm, and a few others … I was embarrassed. How could I have missed that?? I didn’t even want to read it anymore. How could my work, which I had been anticipating for such a long time, end up like that?
After Editing, Please Revise
After taking a break from my book for a few days, I continued reading. I noticed that the first four stories had many more errors than the ones I had edited myself … The ones I had edited myself were (except for one story) free of any missing articles, hyphens, prepositions, or any other type of error. So, I am not writing this to blow my own horn, but it was a relief. I made sure to write down all the errors on a notepad, and correct them as soon as possible, after I finished reading my book.
Today, I logged in to Amazon KDP, and I took down the old manuscript, replacing it with the corrected one. It takes up to 72 hours for the changes to take place. I feel so much better now. Such relief!
I hope that my first reviewer is not put off by the errors in my PDF … And I apologize to the people who bought the first edition which contains the mistakes. If there is a way that I can make up for it, I will. This newly published version is a version I can be proud of and which I happily share with the world.
So, please, for any writer out there, even after your work has been edited, check everything. I know that many writers look at the changes and when it all looks good, they accept it without looking at the rest of the pages. Please, do not make that mistake. Always revise everything, as tedious as that task may be. Remember, this is your work, and even the best editor may miss something. We are all humans and we all make mistakes. Editors check our work and writers check theirs, balance it evenly.
My favorite editor whose service I had to abandon (sniff sniff) also told me to always revise the complete document. I hope that I can use her services again one day.
So, I hope that no one will interpret this article as a post that criticizes editors, because it does not. I know how hard they work. I just hope to remind writers to always revise the edited work before publishing. Sometimes it is easy to blame it all on the editor, but we are a team here. Editor checks the writer and writer checks the editor, that’s how you produce a great book, in my opinion. 🙂