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.

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

Self-Publishing Checklist: 12 Steps to Success

Self-Publishing

You’ve put in the hours. You’ve bled and cried. You’ve driven yourself crazy trying to iron out that nasty plot hole. And now you’ve done it – you’ve finished your manuscript! Huzzah! Congratulations!

But now what? If you want to get your work out there and are considering self-publishing, you’ll want to make sure you cover the basics before attempting to put your words out there for the world to read.

I published my first ebook back in April 2014 – nearly a year ago. And now, with four more books slated for release this year, I’ve put together a checklist to help myself stay on track and would like to share them with you to aid you in your own self-publishing adventure!

Note: This is meant to be a very basic checklist to make sure you don’t forget anything. But not to fear! I’ll be posting more about these checkpoints in detail over the next few months.

Self-Publishing Checklist: 12 Steps to Success

  • Beta-Readers, Editors, Proofreaders
    • Have you had a second (or third or fourth) set of eyes look at your manuscript?
  • Revisions
    • Have you edited, revised, and polished your work?
  • Launch Date
    • Have you selected/announced a launch date?
  • Cover
    • Do you have a professional-looking cover for your manuscript? Is it eye-catching? Does it look good as a thumbnail (this is how it will show up on most websites!)? Have you done a cover-reveal?
  • Print vs. eBook
    • Are you producing this book as an eBook? Are you doing Print on Demand (PoD)? Find the vendors/sites you want to sell through and adhere to their guidelines (formatting, marketing, ISBNs, etc.).
  • Formatting
    • Has your book (whether print or eBook) been formatted to the appropriate formats for your vendors (or wherever you’re selling?).
  • Uploading
    • Give yourself a couple extra days to upload your book with to your vendors’ sites so that you don’t miss your release date.
  • Price
    • Have you selected an appropriate/competitive price for your book?
  • Blurb/Product Description
    • Have you written a stellar (and accurate) blurb to put on the back of your book or on your book’s page?
  • Selecting Key Terms
    • Have you selected succinct categories and key-terms for your book on your vendors’ websites?
  • Marketing Platforms
    • Where are you marketing your book? Follow any guidelines for those platforms.
  • Review Copies
    • Have you sent complimentary copies of your book to any reviewers you have lined up?

I hope this checklist helps you get a good handle on your self-publishing journey. Keep an eye out for more posts on self-publishing in the coming months!

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Have any steps that you find crucial to the self-publishing process? Have something you think should be added to the checklist? Have any questions? Let us know in the comments below!