You need a professional editor, maybe even more than one. But what if you can’t afford one?
Now that the final draft of my manuscript for my nonfiction book was complete, it was time for editing. Much of the rewriting had been done in the earlier drafts, but it was obvious that much could be done to improve it.
The first step was to send the final draft to business associates who had published academic books and were well versed in the mechanics of launching small enterprises. The problem was none of them are editors in the true sense of the definition, but I hoped that obvious spelling and grammatical errors would be spotted besides providing insight to improving the content.
But this did not solve the headache of having the manuscript edited.
During my period of research in early 2019, I knew that editing would present a challenge. A survey of what editors charged, particularly locally, was enough to convince me that my budget at this moment in time would not support hiring the services of any editor.
There had to be alternatives.
There is, but in no way, should they be interpreted as a replacement for a professional editor, rather as a complimentary tool.
What I could afford and would have to suffice in the short term, was the use of grammar checkers; Grammerly, ProWritingAid, Ginger, and WhiteSmoke were the packages I evaluated. Although most of them offer a free version, they did not provide sufficiently the in-depth editing I was looking for, although the ProWritingAid free version is not bad, but is limited to a web-based editor and a 500 word cap, meaning you spend time copying and pasting chunks of 500 words into the software for editing.
Factoring in price, what was offered and how best it would suit my needs, I chose ProWritingAid, although Grammarly seems to be highly recommended by many writers it is just too expensive for me. But you need to do your own comparisons.
I signed up for ProWritingAid (PWA) getting a 20% discount, which you can also benefit from HERE should you wish to purchase it.
If PWA takes your fancy I would suggest you try the free web editor first which will introduce you to the tools available to help with editing and go much further than just highlighting spelling and grammar errors. The Pro version provides additional apps that work with Chrome (including WordPress) and a MS Word Add-in which I found handy considering my manuscript had been compiled in Word. The desktop version provides access to Scrivener, which is my other writing tool.
No, it does not replace the input of a professional editor, but it has helped me improve the style of the book and highlighted other aspects I had not even considered. After editing with PWA I sent the revised manuscript to the academics I refer to above, and the consensus was the finished product was a huge improvement on the first copies they had proofread.
I had also sent out over 20 pre-release copies to folks, including small and home-based business owners, and the general feedback was positive with no glaring content or structure complaints. With this feedback in mind, I opted to hop in the hot end and publish.
But let me be the first to acknowledge that this is not the ideal way to produce the final version of your manuscript for publication. But it was the best I could do with the tools available to me.
Although not entirely satisfied I had fulfilled the editing steps required, I was confident enough to publish. I premised this confidence on the knowledge that this was a nonfiction, “how to” book, which meant that it was more technical in nature as opposed to a fictional piece. But rest assured, I intend to find the finances to use a professional editor before making any attempt to publish my short story and/or novel ideas.
This is a sample of the reports the software provides
Am I punching ProWritingAid? Yes, I am. And I base my opinion on an overall assessment of price, what reports it provides me with and the ability to use it across multiple platforms. I also need to point out I am an affiliate for PWA and will receive a small commission should you purchase the product using one of the links on this page.
Please note, I am not inferring that that the features in PWA are not present in the other grammar checkers but at the end of the day, with my limited budget in mind, PWA was the hands-down winner.
The video (below left), Aggressive Self Editing How To Become Happy with Every Word You Write, featuring 21-time bestselling author, Jerry Jenkins, and creator of ProWritingAid, Chris Banks, is not only great guideline for self-editing but also provides an insight into what PWA can do for you.
Some additional editing tips.
- 5 Steps to a Thorough Book Edit
- Writing a Novel: Top 10 Editing Tips
- How to Edit a Book: Your Ultimate 21-Part Checklist
In answer to my original question, what if you can’t afford an editor? In that case, I would offer the following suggestions:
- Purchase any of the grammar checkers that best suit your needs. If money is tight at the moment, then I would suggest the free version of ProWritingAid.
- Send copies of your final draft to as many friends and associates that you can trust to be honest in their feedback.
- Use your social media platforms to source folks who would act as “beta readers” for you. This may take some time and you may need to make a reciprocal offer to proofread from them, but it’s worth it. Depending on the response, try to identify those that proofread for others or who appear to have some experience with the craft.
In the next post I will share the various steps I followed to prepare my ebook for publishing on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. See you there!