Randy Scott is an independent author I’ve enjoyed visiting with at both Sierra Writers meetings and at the 2019 Sierra Writers Conference.
Randy’s guest post shares his editing process, tools, techniques, and tenacity. Randy has written and independently published three contemporary action adventure novels.
Knowing that Indies have a reputation for producing typo-riddled work, Randy’s aim is to raise reader expectations.
I’ve read the blog posts, listened to the podcasts and watched YouTube about the business of writing and publishing.
One of the consistent complaints readers have about many self-published books is the editing – or lack of.
My day job is in a hospital, in a department where many ‘out-patients’ are seen. There is a waiting room where, you guessed it – they wait. Whenever possible, I engage with these folks about their reading material choices. When I ask if they read self-published or independent authors, the overwhelming response is they avoid them. “After the fifth or sixth typo, I put the book down and don’t go back,” is a common reply.
Tracking Down Typos
I consider myself a typical consumer of books; well-read across genres. Nearly every traditionally published novel I’ve read over the past dozen years, even from famous authors, has a few mistakes.
My typo standard; a few is okay, a dozen is sloppy.
When I embarked on my self-publishing journey, I knew that we are blind to our own mistakes and professional editing is mandatory for a professional result.
I ran the manuscripts through ProWriting Aid, the grammar checker on steroids. After line-correcting the manuscripts, I sent them to a professional proofreader for final nit-picking. I felt confident that the proofreader would have an easy job.
In my disillusionment, I thought I would be paying a lot of money to root out the few typos that escaped the eyes of my line editor.
Turns out the proofreaders earned their pay – and then some. They returned my manuscript with shit-tons of red flags. Well… okay… I drop my head, swallow my pride and get back to work making those corrections. Finally, it’s completely cleaned up and I make the ebook available for free to my friends and followers on Facebook.
Here’s what happened; the feedback is good. I’m a happy camper. I submit the manuscript to Amazon for both Kindle and paperback versions. I also submitted it to Draft2Digital, who will distribute to the other ebook stores like Apple Books, Nook, Kobo, Scribd and more. Yippie, it’s out there in the world and I’m a published author! Life is good my friends.
Then the comments rolled in from those who received the paperback copy; ‘I found a few typos and transposed words. Do you want me to pass them on to you?’
‘Yes, please!’ I reply to all. I also asked those friends who had the paperback to ‘mark up the book, dog-ear the pages where the typos are, pass it back and I’ll give you a new, clean version when I’ve made the corrections.’
Holy Cripes! I’m shocked. Shocked, I say, when I see all the dog-eared pages. I was hoping and praying they are mistaken or merely quibbling over style and word choices.
It’s a sad day when I see they are right and I’ve still got a couple dozen errors in my one-hundred thousand word manuscript.
Little ones, mind you, but mistakes nonetheless.
Amazon Book Proofs for Proofreading
Amazon offers ‘Author’s Proof’ copies. I give those ‘cheap’ copies to my second volunteer team. Within a week, they are ready to return them – all dog-eared and marked up. I’m happy to buy them lunch, or a bottle of wine to thank them for their ‘volunteer’ help.
It’s a chore to find a good team of professional editors – that you can afford. It’s a chore to find qualified friends or acquaintances who will take that last step for quality, to read your work and mark it up – after you’ve already paid the pros. For me, it’s worth it. I put a lot of thought and time into my stories.
I don’t want to be an author who has reviews noting how poor editing was distracting to the story.
Jumping the Gun, Impatience has a Price
Now I can hear you saying; “But you paid a ‘professional’ proofreader. Shouldn’t they have found all those mistakes?”
Yes. I agree. I wish they would have.
I discovered that one of the drawbacks of self-publishing; not having a large team of seasoned editors.
It’s up to all of us who are self-publishing, to go the extra steps and pay the extra dollars to get the job done right.
I paid for all the stages of editing, but I was in too much of a hurry on those first two books. I’m fortunate to have local friends good at finding typos, and an aunt who tackles proofreading like a rat terrier on a mission from God.
Thank God for print-on-demand, I don’t have a basement full of my poorly edited novels, and thank God only a few people have bought the books at this point.
My saving grace— it is easy to make changes today – even after publication.
I did a ‘soft’ launch, choosing to wait until I have the whole series complete and out the door before investing advertising. In retrospect, that was a wise move.
I zip through the dog-eared pages to find the circles and arrows pointing to the misspellings or transposed words while I am scrolling through the manuscript on my computer. I make all the corrections within half an hour and reload the manuscript into my formatting program, Vellum. New files are spit out for the paperback, and the ebook versions for Kindle, iBooks, Nook, etc.
It takes only a moment to log into Draft2Digtial. I delete the old version, no questions asked, and the next person who orders my ebook, gets the new, cleaned-up version. Easy peasy.
The only delay is with Amazon. They have to review the new manuscript first. The Kindle version is typically replaced the same day. The paperback, print-on-demand copy can take up to seventy-two hours to be replaced.
Taking Extra Steps to do the Job Right
As I write this article, two of my three novels are finally, completely finished and published. I learned that I put them on the market one step too soon.
I needed another proofreading team after I paid the professionals, to give the books a final good scrubbing.
On this last book, my final volunteers discovered typos that got past the pro! Here’s my estimate of what they found;
- 1st guy found about 30
- 2nd person found about 20, 10-15 unique ones the first guy didn’t find
- 3rd person found about 10, 5 unique ones the other two didn’t find
And I found a few more while I was putting in their corrections! It’s like the little bastards breed as soon as you close a file!
My diligence is paying off.
Finally, on the third book I’m getting it right.
At the time of article publication, all three Dream Messiah books will be available for purchase on Amazon
Summary of Randy’s Editing Process
- Developmental Editor (paid)
- Volunteer Beta readers
- Line Editor (paid)
- Proofreader (paid)
- Volunteer proofreaders
Check out Randy’s Dream Messiah Series
The genesis for the Dream Messiah saga came while Randy hiked across Arizona’s Superstition Mountains. In his head, he saw the story of a young Alaskan man being taken into the Dreamtime of another culture and finding his home.
FREEDOM: Jake Barnes is worried about his ‘crazy seeds,’ mental afflictions and psychotic episodes that run in his family. After burning bridges and making enemies, he hitchhikes to Alaska to build his dream–a cabin in the wilderness where his biggest fear is the grizzly bear stalking him.
Jake…..turned mountain man falls for Kat, a strong-willed woman who is going to be the mother of his child. Jake soon learns that escape from the difficulties he ran from is impossible.
After their child is born, Kat has her own agenda.
Jake falls into doubt and self-pity while sensing that his life and grasp of reality are spinning out of control.
His sourdough, survivalist neighbor tells Jake of a primitive, nomadic tribe, the Punan Dyaks, on the island of Borneo, with a Dreamtime messiah prophecy. He also advises Jake to take a path of ruthless action.
While more than one person wants Jake Barnes to burn in hell, another hand is guiding him into baptism by fire.
INTO THE FIRE: Jake made more than a few mistakes while trying to raise his infant son. The last incident earned him a seat in the back of a state trooper’s car. Jake’s prayers for a normal life are crushed as his incarceration turns from bad to worse. A crime boss’s story of torture and disfigurement cements Jake’s path of survival by the rules of ruthlessness.
Jakes crazy seeds are sprouting thick as mushrooms on a cow pie. Death follows him like dark cyclone clouds of a voodoo curse.
The woman Jake falls for may be his undoing.
At the crossroads, Jake must decide if he can commit an act utterly heinous and abhorrent–if it will buy his freedom, or is freedom just another word–for nothing left…
AWAKENING: Jake Barnes wasn’t sure if he was bargaining with an angel or the devil when he struck a deal with the powerful Mr. Stevenson. Nine people are now dead in the wake of Jake’s actions.
Jake has completed his part of the bargain as Mr. Stevenson’s Hammer of God: as the old Jake Barnes dies and he takes on a new identity as Gabriel G. He’s learned the hard lessons, and the rewards of ruthlessness.
Still not sure if he’s psychotic or being guided by mysterious forces, Gabe escapes to Bali for a meet-up with another character from his past. Together they trek the uncharted territory of Borneo in search of the Punan Dyaks and the truth behind the Dream Messiah. Who will be their savior? How many more will die in this quest? Will the circle be…
Randy L. Scott lives and works in Nevada City, CA.
Independent Author – More manuscript editing articles
Little Mountain Publishing – Helpful tools & resources for every stage of writing, editing, and publishing
Pinterest – Editing Tools board