I know I mention doing a lot of studying in this post, but trust me, it's worth it.

One of the recommendations I make in my series about paid reviews and in the policy of my own review site is that authors make sure their work is edited before sending it in to be reviewed. I can’t stress the importance of editing enough.

Frequent mistakes within a book make it seem unprofessional, and for many readers, those errors detract from the story. I’m one such reader. Errors tend to stick out to me and knock me off course. They’re like bumps in the road. Some, such as missing or misspelled words, are more serious bumps than others, such as misused commas. When we authors ensure our work is properly edited, I feel we show greater respect for our craft and for our readers.

At the same time, I know that affording an editor is hard. There are many services out there. Some are more expensive than others. It’s up to each of us to determine which editing services are trustworthy and which ones arent. For those of us who just cant fit it into our budget, there are some . . . I dont want to say alternatives, but there are things we can do to help improve our writing even if an editor is out of the question.

Studying is always a good first step. I bought The Chicago Manual of Style used and started studying it so I was better equipped to review my work. I find it also helps to use a word processor with a built-in writing assistance tool/spell-checker, but keep in mind that such programs may introduce errors into your work because they sometimes take things out of context. They also don’t catch certain errors for the same reason. You still have to be vigilant. Grammarly is a useful editing software to check into. While these options may be more affordable than most editing services, it’s important to keep in mind how difficult it is to edit our own work.

We often auto-correct our work in our minds as we read it because we know what we meant to write. This is why I try to always read my work over at least three times and then step away from it for a day or so before completing the final edits. Fresher eyes are more objective and thus catch more mistakes, but it’s still possible to skip over some issues. We can miss mistakes in our own work that would be blatantly obvious if they appeared in someone else’s. For this reason, I continue to recommend hiring a professional editor, if at all possible. I also recommend acquiring the services of beta readers and critique partners.

A beta reader is basically someone who reads books before publication. They let you know what they thought of your story and give you pointers on how to possibly improve it. They should be avid readers of whatever genre your book is. Writers who read other writers work before publication are usually called critique partners instead of beta readers because they read from the perspective of another writer rather than as a reader first, but their function is similar. Neither a beta readers nor a critique partners focus is on picking out errors, but they may still mention them if they find any. Like some editors, they may also suggest rewrites of certain areas. I suggest acquiring their services before hiring a professional editor and again after receiving the final edits.

Now, let’s say you can afford an editor. How can you decide what editor to go with? There are so many scams out there, and there are a lot of editors who just aren’t qualified enough to handle your work. How can you pick through them to find the right one? I’ll tackle this issue in my next blog post. So, for now, I hope you found some value in this post and will check out the next one. I also hope you’ve had a great start to your new year!