As a professional editor and proofreader, I am about 99% in favor of professional editing and proofreading. Not just because it’s my bread and butter, though. I’ve been a voracious reader since age seven, and I really want good copy to make my reading experience awesome.
Self-Publishing Cost Trade-Offs
I do understand that indie authors who are self-publishing may find it difficult to afford professional assistance in all areas of getting their books out into the world.
- Do you put your money into cover art because you can only draw stick figures, or do you put it into interior book design?
- Do you pay for upfront writing coaching or more mechanical copy editing and proofreading?
- Do you get a manuscript evaluation or pay for professional marketing help?
It can be a hard call on some of these steps.
Pros and Cons of Peer vs. Pro Editing
Whatever your other choices, I do advise against counting on yourself and your friends for all your editing-related needs. We all get blind to our own material after many rewrites for one thing, and your friends may either not have very discerning eyes or may not want to criticize your work. Yes, because they are your friends. 🙂
If I were working a book project where I wanted to save money and still get some professional attention, I’d put it into copy editing and proofreading. Your friends have a better chance of giving you value in the overall reading department (manuscript evaluation). They will likely know if they like the story and if it moved along in a way that makes sense.
Another set of eyes and brain is really crucial to fine-tuning your prose, though. An English major may or may not be necessary, but you will “get what you pay for” on this point. Someone who’s been trained to read with an editor or proofreader’s eye will be more likely to see typos, missing words, and awkward phrasings. In my experience it’s mostly inconsistencies in capitalization and term formation (to hyphenate or not to hyphenate?) that amateur proofreaders miss.
Give the Reader an Experience
Remember that the idea is to create a story so smooth to read that the reader forgets they are reading and is pulled into your world to be transformed by it. If they have to stop and scratch their heads because they can’t follow what you’re saying, or because they keep seeing typos and whatnot (credibility will suffer), then you have lost much of the impact of your story.
Editing and proofreading do affect content and results. Your book is important enough to you to invest time writing it; make sure it creates a great experience for your readers by investing in at least one professional edit.