Attention, Self-Publishers: Edit, Edit, Edit!

A quick word to my self-published author-friends. Please know that I totally love and respect what you’re doing. So many people think self-publishing a book is easy, but the truth is you are totally on your own out there when it comes to marketing and selling your book. You are joining blog tours, doing interviews and networking, networking, networking. You are all amazingly brave and entrepreneurial. As I wrote in a recent blog post, if my traditional-publishing travels for Baby Grand do not turn out the way I would like, I would indeed consider self-publishing and make a go of it on my own.

But, please, I beg of you, have your book professionally edited (or at least read by grammarphile friends) before you self-publish. A friend of mine recently self-published a novel, and eager as I was to see a “sneak peek” of the book on Amazon, I immediately became disillusioned when right there in the second sentence was a grammatical error.


I know that might not be a big deal for some — hey, Amanda Hocking has sold millions of books that she herself says could have been better edited — but for me it’s a huge turnoff. Do traditionally published books have typos and grammatical errors? Yes, but they’re usually few and far between. Recently, my 14-year-old son had to put a self-published book down because there were “just too many” spelling mistakes. That’s a shame.

Yes, it’s the book’s story that is most important, but the way the story is told is pretty darn important too. And as more and more people self-publish, you want your book to rise above the masses, and one surefire way to do that is to be sure that your spelling and grammar are as close to perfect as possible.


8 thoughts on “Attention, Self-Publishers: Edit, Edit, Edit!

  1. I love this advice and I’m considering the possibility (how’s that for uncertainty?) of self publishing a book this year, and without a doubt I’d hire an editor. Of THAT there is NO uncertainty! Great reminder, though. And how frustrating for that writer… yikes!

  2. Dina,

    Thank you for having the guts to say this. So many writers rush to publish the second they’ve typed the last sentence. If authors expect people to pay good money to read their books, then they owe it to their readers to produce a polished manuscript.

  3. It’s tough because I’ve run into a lot of word boo-boos in indie books lately. I used to proofread business correspondence as part of my job, so spelling and grammatical errors jump out at me like they’re written in red ink. What pains me about these boo-boos is that they interrupt the flow of the story and take me out of the book, which is something no writer wants.

    As a writer myself, I know how easy it is to miss mistakes because you’ve read and reread the same pages so many times and Spellcheck misses A LOT. Most indie authors are working on a budget, so they can’t afford to hire a professional editor (I couldn’t.) I think it’s important to do all of your proofreading on a hard copy of your manuscript. Word errors you never noticed on your computer screen will jump out at you on the page. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your friends, family members, writing group partners, etc. to proofread your book for you. They will be happy to do it and there is nothing better than a fresh pair of eyes when yours are too fatigued to notice errors anymore.

    • Tracie, you make so many valid points! As a freelance writer, I like to print out my stories in order to read the hard copies — I am continually astounded by the number of typos I find in copy that I thought was clean. And, yes, the more people who can proofread a manuscript, the less typos and grammatical errors there will be in that manuscript. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Thank you so much for reminding indie authors that they should have thier books edited and proofed. I just bought an e-book from an indie author, and like you I was excited to read something from a friend. It has many, many typos, as well as some plot holes that a good editor could have helped plug up. I have no idea why authors are so resistant to having their work edited. I’m an editor, but I still would not put a book out without hiring a freelance editor to go over it. I don’t think we can catch all of our own mistakes.

    • Hey, Maryann! Many writers have told me that they’ve self-published so that they can be in “control” of their book. For some reason, I think that these writers look at “editing” as giving up control, because they would have to listen to someone else’s opinion about what would make their book better. The thing is, there’s nothing subjective about a typo. And I agree with you, having your book read by others helps you find plot holes and other “problems” that you may not have seen yourself. So, three cheers for editing — and, yes, we’re not just saying that because we’re editors. :) Thanks for stopping by!

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