It’s been a while since I’ve actually discussed anything writing related. Reason: I haven’t been doing much writing. I did start writing the sequel to The Clockwork Giant on Friday, but that has officially been put on hold until Monday, at the earliest. For those of you who don’t follow along on Twitter and Google+, my husband and I are doing some major renovations to our house, and if we’re to get it all done in a timely manner, I have to sacrifice my writing time. In fact, I have to go do some drywall right now so that I can paint it this afternoon. …
Now that’s done, I can focus on this blog post.
So, the new novel has about 1300 words, and they may or may not be utter crap. That’s first drafts for you. But, I don’t want to talk about first drafts today. I want to talk about second drafts, third drafts, twelfth drafts, and zomg-worked-on-for-ten-years drafts. I was lucky enough to go through one major revision and several smaller revisions. If I want to be technical, The Clockwork Giant went through half a dozen drafts, but I call the current draft the third draft because it includes me changing material that came about in the major revision that I call the second draft (which was really the fifth draft, but I don’t want to confuse you).
Now that I’m nearing my date of publication (sometime in December; more on that later), I need to check the book for grammar, spelling, and other such errors. I could hire an editor to do this for me, but I don’t have $850 to drop on a proofreader (the cheapest price I could find in a quick Google search, mind you; the most expensive was $5000). Should I need more substantive edits, I could pay anywhere from $1500 to $2500, minimum. And to be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t know what sort of proofreaders/editors to trust. I imagine some of the cheaper options wouldn’t do any more work than running the file through spell check. The credited editors are likely to be more expensive.
The point is, I don’t have the money for an editor. I know the taboo: self-published authors don’t hire editors. Well, now you know why. They’re ridiculously expensive. However, I think I can get by on my own talent, and a little help from the Find feature in MS Word. I did take several writing courses in college, and I was the editor of the literary journal. It’s not like I came into this writing game unprepared.
So when self-editing/proofreading/whatever-you-want-to-call-it, what do I look for? Obviously, I run spell check with grammar and style. That gets most of the mistakes. But spell check doesn’t get everything.
The biggest mistakes I find in my own writing deals with homonyms. I know the right word, the one I meant to type, but sometimes, I write so dang fast that my fingers don’t listen to my brain properly. I’ll write “hear” instead of “here” or “there” instead of “they’re”. My other mistake is writing “that” at the beginning of a clause that requires a “who”. For example: “She’s the girl that won first place in the 400m dash.” The sentence should read: “She’s the girl who won first place in the 400m dash.” I didn’t even realize that I did that until one of my beta-readers pointed it out.
So, if you know you mess things like that up, find a list of homonyms and do a search through your document to make sure you use the proper word and not its similar-sounding evil twin. Common ones for me: alter—altar, bare—bear, threw—through, right—write, site—sight, for—four, foreword—forward, afterward—afterword, one—won, and of course hear—here. There are also plenty of websites and books that will tell you other things to look for when self-editing, and I recommend reading at least one book on the matter.
I think next week, I’ll do another proofread run on The Clockwork Giant, but I’m not going to do it from beginning to end, because then I’ll get caught up in the story. I’m going to print it out, shuffle the pages, and then proofread. The story will read like utter gibberish, leaving me to focus on typos and other such errors. Hopefully, that works out for me, because I definitely don’t have money for a professional proofreader. I do well enough on my own, I think. And my husband does a good job of pointing out typos too.
I leave you with the following questions: Have you ever hired an editor or a proofreader for your work? If you intend to self-publish, will you hire an editor or proofreader?
And for unrelated questions: I’m planning on releasing my book in December. What are the pros and cons of releasing a book during holiday season? Do I have a better chance at sales before or after Christmas? Does it matter? And what about competing titles? The Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare also releases in December. Should I release my similarly titled book The Clockwork Giant the same week or after? I’m afraid if I release it too close to Clare’s, people will accidentally buy it and be mad at me for tricking them, even if that’s not my intent.