Having finished the third draft and taken my book as far as I could on my own, this week I took another major step: I hired an editor.
After doing some reading around I decided to run a search on the members of the Editorial Freelancers Association, an American outfit. I plugged in a couple of details and went through the list of names almost randomly. Originally I’d intended to use a female editor for this work, but when I saw most of them lived in Brooklyn, San Francisco, and other liberal strongholds and that a good half of them had dyed hair, tattoos, and facial piercings I began to think this might not be such a good idea. Any liberal matching that description is likely to struggle with the content of my story, particularly if she’s a feminist, and this would inevitably affect her editorial work.
So I picked two men (both Americans), based mainly on the content of their websites, and sent them an enquiry. Both asked me to send a 2,000 word passage or the whole manuscript, and they’d provide a sample edit and a quote. One came back with $1,200 and the other $1,600. However, the more expensive of the two returned a much better sample edit: more explanation behind the changes, and he seemed to “get” the voice of the narrator better and buy into the story more. The other editor made two changes which I thought dumbed down the narrator’s voice, making it sound more like a young American than a middle-aged Brit. The good news is that both sets of suggestions were minor: no “WTF is this, please rewrite completely” in any of them.
I gave my preferred editor a call and we had a long chat about the editorial process and what I was looking for, and it was very productive. I made the decision to switch the spelling and punctuation conventions to American English, purely because the US is a much bigger market than the UK. The downside is I know seeing z instead of s will grate forever. I am sure I will learn a lot from my editor, who has already shown me a few ways I can improve my writing (again, minor points) and I’m looking forward to the whole process. With luck, what comes out will be a decent product which will sell.
The one downside is that he is busy until early December, so nothing will get done in November. On the plus side, it means he has work and isn’t some 25 year old grad with a BA in Media Writing who’s touting himself about as a freelance writer waiting for his first paid gig. He reckons the editing will take 14 days, so shortly before Christmas I should begin the process of accepting or rejecting the changes and compiling the final version. Then it’ll need to be proof-read, which is a separate exercise I’ll also get done professionally.
In the meantime, I need to get a book cover done. Once again, I’m going to get this done professionally and it looks to be around $350 for both an e-book and paperback cover, based on 3 options with 2 revision cycles. By now I’m seeing that getting a book self-published is going to come in at around $2,500 which isn’t that cheap. However, the most common complaints about self-published books are that they’ve not been properly edited, they’re strewn with errors, the cover looks crap, and the formatting is bad. I might be able to save money by doing a lot of this myself, but I’d be far happier with a professional-looking product than an amateur effort – particularly if I’m going to flog the thing.
I’m hoping that by mid-January it’ll be published and available to purchase on Amazon. I have a marketing strategy, and once I have something to sell I’ll put that into action and see how it goes. Frankly, I haven’t the slightest idea whether this will sell or not, nor whether anyone will like my writing or the story. But as I said right at the beginning, there is only one way to find out – and I intend to do so.