The Importance of Editors, Beta-Readers, and Proofreaders

The Importance ofNote: this piece is geared toward writers interested in self-publishing. Find other pieces on self-publishing here.

So you have a manuscript and dream of making some money off it. Or at least you’re hoping to put your work out there for the world to enjoy. There’s a whole checklist of things you’ll need to tackle in your self-publishing adventure, but today I’m going to give you a brief overview on editors, beta-readers, and proofreaders. So let’s jump right in.

Editors
Who they are: The term “editors” is a very broad term. But for the sake of simplicity here, let’s just discuss developmental/substantive/continuity editors. These are professional, experienced editors that take your manuscript and help shape the voice, tone, storyline, etc. They’ll get deep into your story and help you to re-work it.

Where to find them: You can find these sorts of editors all over the place – there are professional editing companies, as well as freelance editors. Do your research (Google!) and find yourself someone good.

Cost: There is a wide range, but unless you’re friends with an editor who is willing to do you a favor, you’re most likely going to end up paying something. If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, check out freelancing sites such as Elance or oDesk.

Beta-Readers
Who they are: Beta-readers are people who read your work and tell you what works, what doesn’t work, what’s confusing, and where that comma really should go. Ultimately, beta-readers are editors, but with less professional experience. Typically they’re well-read people with a good grasp on language and story-telling.

Where to find them: Anywhere! Usually beta-readers are friends, family, members of your writing critique group, fellow authors, etc. Whomever you ask, make sure they’re going to give you honest feedback. It may be great to hear your sister say she loves your book, but the whole point of beta-reading is to get feedback so that you can make your manuscript stronger.

Cost: Free! At least, beta-readers are usually free. More than likely, you know someone who would be willing to read over your manuscript and give you some feedback.

Proofreaders
Who they are: Proof-readers (sometimes also known as line-editors) are usually going to be the last stage of your editing process. Their job is to correct any grammatical/spelling errors. They’re there polishing things up.

Where to find them: Just like with editors, you can find them all over the internet. There’s a wide array of proofreading services and freelancers (again, check Elance, oDesk, Fiverr, or any similar sites for freelancers). However, if you have a friend who knows language and grammar thoroughly, give them a call. They might be able to do the proofreading for you.

Cost: Free (if you have a friend do this), affordable (if you go with freelancers), or a little pricey (if you go with professionals/services).

So why do you need Editors, Beta-Readers, and Proofreaders?

As much as we writers like to think we know how to best write our books, that’s not always the case. Sometimes we need a fresh set of eyes to look at our work objectively. By the time we finish a manuscript, we’re so involved with the story line and attached to the characters that we don’t want to change a thing. Or sometimes we know the story needs improvement, but can’t figure out how to do that.

You might not need beta-readers AND an editor. Maybe you’re really good at proofreading your own work. But you should always, ALWAYS have someone else look over your story before you publish it. It’s all about making your story as good as it can be and presenting a professional-quality product.

But always keep in mind that you, as the author, have the last word. You get to decide what goes and what stays in your manuscript. That’s the whole point of self-publishing: at the end of the day it’s YOUR story and YOU get to make the calls.

~

Any questions about today’s post? Thoughts? Leave them in the comments below!

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5 thoughts on “The Importance of Editors, Beta-Readers, and Proofreaders

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