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You Wrote Your First Book And Now You’re Ready To Publish—NOT!

Written Exclusively for Reading and Writing Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance

Typing “the end” does not mean you’re ready to hit the publish button to every online bookstore out there. I almost made this grave mistake with my debut novel Crimson Groves. After editing it myself, reading it over and over and over again, I thought my new adult paranormal romance novel was perfect and ready to be shared with the world. But it wasn’t even close! My hubby was the first to beta read my novel, and he caught several blaring grammar errors—even after all that editing I’d done. I was completely bummed and immediately dove right back into reading over my manuscript again, for about the thirteenth time. Halfway through this round of grueling edits, of which I still wasn’t catching all the errors because quite honestly, you know the story in your mind and when you’re reading it over, your brain allows you to see the words that are meant to be there, not the typos that really are. And these “typos” are actual words so you can’t rely on that nifty built-in spellchecker to catch them… so my hubs suggested that I needed to find a professional editor.

At the time, I’d been planning on presenting my novel to a whole slew of agencies that accepted my genre and assumed that once I got signed, all the editing would be handled for me. This assumption couldn’t have been further from the truth. Nowadays, most agencies aren’t even interested in new and upcoming authors—they seem to be targeting successful indie (self-pub) authors instead, purchasing the rights of the existing book(s) and then selling them to a big publishing company that will reproduce the novel through their famed publishing warehouse. So you see, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll end up self-pubbing, and trust me when I say there’s nothing wrong with that. I’ve read countless indie books that blew me away—and guess what?—most of them were professionally edited with little-to-no grammar errors (which drives my slight case of OCD crazy) to act as speed bumps throughout the story.

Now, back to getting your manuscript edited. Even if you still want to pursue the traditional route and seek out an agent, you MUST have a clean and polished novel to present to them. Period. This is your chance to stand out above all your competitors, and trust me when I say there are thousands of new authors coming out almost every week—yes, it’s that competitive. Hiring an editor is an expense that, in my opinion, is worth every penny. After all, you want your story to be perfect, right?

So where do you find a good editor? Well, I’m very partial to mine—Stephen Delaney with Close Reader Editing Services (http://www.closereaderediting.com/). He’s done an amazing job with my new adult (NA) paranormal romance novels Crimson Groves and its sequel Crimson Flames, my NA paranormal romance/sci-fi thriller UnGuarded (which was a 2013 National Indie Excellence Awards Finalist in Fantasy), and my newest adult paranormal romance release, Death Dealer. Not only does he provide meticulous attention to detail, story, plot, characters, etc., but he also makes suggestions on how certain sentences and paragraphs could be better, adding that extra oomph to keep the reader turning those pages. There are also some helpful websites where you can find the perfect editor for your genre—yes, just like you need to target agencies that accept your genre, the same rule applies to finding your editor. http://pred-ed.com/peesla.htm and http://www.the-efa.org/dir/search.php are just a couple sites out of many that list editors and what services each one provides. What ever you do, just be sure to hire a professional editor! Not your friend! You want someone that will shoot straight with you and not give a damn if they hurt your feelings because at the end of the day, you want your book as good as it can be for your readers, right?

Compare pricing! Before connecting with Stephen, I narrowed down my editor search to my top-three picks. I reached out to each one inquiring not only about their pricing, but also what the turnaround time frame would be. Both price and timing worked best with Stephen and that’s how my choice was originally made—but at the time it was still a leap of faith since I had NO IDEA what to really expect. Wow, was I pleasantly surprised, and I couldn’t wait to work with him again on Unguarded (which was actually the second book I wrote, Crimson Groves being my debut novel). Keep in mind, you not only need an editor for EVERY book you write, but if you go after an agent the traditional way, it’s in your best interest to get your query letter edited too, since that’s the absolute first thing the agent will see before requesting sample chapters.

Cover Art is Vital! Most people really will judge a book by its cover. So you need to make sure it’s awesome. If you can’t manipulate art in Photoshop or Fireworks then you are definitely going to need to hire someone to do it for you. I’ve worked with some amazingly talented artists. Claudia with Phat PuppyArt did the beautiful covers for UnGuarded and Crimson Flames. While Stephanie with Once Upon A Time Covers did the badass covers for Death Dealer and my upcoming release Blood Promise (due out this Winter 2013).

Be mindful of your budget! If you receive the countless rejection letters that MOST authors are no stranger to, then be prepared to eat the full cost of the editing and cover art. In other words, you may not get that money back if you aren’t able to make it in book revenue. And if you go the indie route, you will have other fees to consider too (i.e., eBook & paperback formatting, blog tours, release parties, etc.).

In summary, there really is no choice as to whether you need a professional editor or not—the choice is simply what editor is going to be your lifelong business partner in your writing career. And the same applies with a cover artist, unless, like I said before, you can do that yourself…and do it really, really well. Best of luck finding your version of my Stephen, and that perfect cover artist like Stephanie and Claudia. ☺

~ Ashley Robertson

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