Tip of the Day: Find your perfect critique partners through SCBWI or RWA.
So now that you know the different types of editing you need to do to your manuscript as an indie (because traditionally published authors have professional editors through their publishers to make sure, hopefully, all the bases are covered), I'm going to help you find your perfect editing partners.
When I decided to start approaching my writing as a business with an eye to getting published, versus just writing for fun, I joined SCBWI - the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators. It was through this organization that I found my first online critique group. I was thrilled because two of the members had MFAs in Creative Writing.
That was equally exciting and intimidating. Luckily, the members were more than happy to take me under their wing. I didn't submit my material at first. Instead, I sat back and learned how they critiqued. It was totally mind-blowing and I am grateful to each of them for everything they taught me. After a year of critiquing with them on a bi-weekly basis, I felt like I'd learned a lot ... but I was pretty sure there was more to learn. That's when I discovered Becky Levine.
The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide.
You should buy a copy because this book will enhance any critique group situation you encounter. It will make you a better participant and a better critiquer.
Once you're able to locate some critique groups, you want to gather people around you who have different skill sets. Find people who excel in copy edits, people who can spot a hole in a story a mile away, or who can find your writing tics that no one else can see. I can guarantee you that you will not find one perfect critique partner, nor can you be everything to someone else. Make friends and start sharing your work!
Now we can talk a bit about hiring an editor. *cringes* I hate talking about this. I really, really do. Why? Because when I was querying I sent out feelers to three professional editors, people whose names you'd recognize and who are well-respected editors. I sent each of them a sample to edit, so I could get a feel for their style. I purposely filled the document with errors, some subtle, some obvious.
All of the samples came back with a cursory edit. I was crushed. These were the most well-respected editors and the illusion had been broken. I spent seven years as a journalist. Had I ever turned in an article that poorly edited, I can guarantee you I wouldn't have received new assignments.
If you do decide to go the professional editor route, here's what I want you to do:
1. Figure out what kind of edits you need. Not every editor does all kind of edits.
2. Get referrals from friends. Read some of the work they've edited.
3. Send them a sample edit with known mistakes.
4. If you like the way they edited, make sure their style jives with yours. Make sure they understand your voice.
5. If you go ahead with the edit, don't assume their edit was perfect. Go over your manuscript again and again and again.
I've never claimed my books are perfect. There definitely are advantages to having a traditional publisher and their massive editing machine behind a book (though we've all seen mistakes in trad pubbed books too), but indies can get their books up to par too.
Megg, Miss Enchanted ePubber