From author Sarah Hoyt via PJ Media:
I think it’s because indie publishing is so new that it’s getting infusions of new blood all the time, so that, like Young Adult literature it needs to repeat itself because no matter how often you’ve said it, it’s always brand new for a significant number of newly-interested people.
So for those who are newcomers to the field, I will explain editing once again.
First of all, the first editing, that must happen, is your own. Yes, you’ll sometimes hear of writers who publish their first drafts. If their books are worth spit one of two things is happening: either they are lying (not necessarily on purpose. What I consider first draft has undergone significant editing because I back-edit while writing, even though I know I shouldn’t), or they are so experienced that the writing is almost flawless outright.
Even so, I guarantee no one publishes first drafts without copy-editing. What is copyediting?
This is where you go in and fix words and punctuation. Most of the time it means catching typos your spellchecker won’t catch. “Ours” for “hours,” for instance. Ears for years. But it also means catching the “word of the day” (everyone has one. Some days you repeat a word without noticing. Could be something simple like “extraordinary,” or a really odd one like “counterproductive.” But your brain becomes enamored of the word and goes to it by preference if even remotely applicable. When you’re copy-editing, you’ll find these patches, and you should fix them.
So copy-editing is the minimum level of editing you should have done. You can do it, but if you do it you have to find a way to break the eye-glaze that comes with editing your own stuff. Reading aloud or reading backward work for some people. [Like me. Nothing better for technical writing.–Charlie] I can’t do reading aloud, because my training was in poetry, and I become obsessed by the sound of the words, and edit in such a way that the books read artificial, as though you should be declaiming.
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Next level up from copy-editing, sometimes included in it but often not, is “Continuity and fact-checking editing.” This is where your copyeditor verifies that Henry the VIII really did have six wives. Or that your character only has two arms in that action scene, not seven. Good ones go further than that and will verify minutia in your books. My favorite editor whom I used for my indie novel once got up on my case because I had the wrong kind of taper in an Elizabethan tavern scene. He’s expensive and worth every penny. (And the publishing houses are bad at this, particularly for historical, because their copyeditors think they should do this and lack the ability. This is how I had a copy editor tell me to capitalize Terra Firma because it was a country.)
For this, expect to pay more like $40 for 10k words.
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The highest level of editing is structural editing and it is almost book doctoring. The line between the two blurs. Here the editor will tell you that your story lacks a climax. That you need to rewrite the ending. That your male character should be female to enhance the impact of chapter 27.
Most of the time my advice on that level of editing is “don’t. Just don’t.”
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Make sure the editor works in your genre/subgenre. As with covers, if they don’t, they’re likely to give you something that won’t work at all. For instance, having a Romance editor do SF or vice versa will mess up the book.
Link to the rest at PJ Media and thanks to Jaye for the tip.
Here’s a link to Sarah Hoyt’s books