Let’s be honest, nobody loves editing, but paying someone else to edit your work can feel superfluous. Authors love to hate copyediting, and occasionally even consider skipping this step altogether. Copyediting is tedious, costly, and probably feels like something you can do yourself. Copyediting is an integral part of the publishing process. Why should you invest in copyediting? Hiring someone to edit your work may seem unnecessary, but having fresh eyes on your manuscript can work wonders for your book. Not only can copyediting save you tons of time and money, it can also improve the quality of your book, so you’ll know it’s in the best shape it can be before it goes out into the world. This list covers some of the best reasons to invest in copyediting, and explains why it’s worth the cost.
Copyediting can prevent incredibly costly errors.
Occasionally, there will be an error in a book that is so heinous, so absolutely irreparable, that all the published books will need to be recalled, destroyed, and reprinted. One of the best examples of this is from 10 years ago, when Penguin published a book calling for “freshly ground black people” instead of “black pepper.” The horrific mistake was caught too late, and Penguin had to pay around $20,000 to have the books reprinted. It may seem like a few small errors won’t make a huge difference, but it can be extremely costly if the error is a signficant one. Imagine you spend hours upon hours working on your manuscript, lovingly creating your characters, masterfully crafting the plot, and meticulously designing the details. You’ve sunk your heart and soul into this book, and you can’t wait to send it out into the real world. Once it’s finished and published, a friend calls you up to tell you they loved your book, but they didn’t understand why you called one character “Cindy” when her name was “Sandra” throughout the rest of the novel. An error like that can cause confusion, and may even be cause for reprinting. In addition to making an author look unprofessional, a lack of copyediting can harm your reputation as a writer! Unless you want to be at the top of a “worst typo ever” list, it’s best to cover all your bases and ensure your book is in the best shape it can be before publication.
Copyediting raises the value of your book.
Have you ever bought a book and started reading it, only to find several errors in the first few pages? For some readers, finding errors is enough cause to put a book down or give it a poor review—something that nobody wants. A book riddled with errors in syntax, grammar, and spelling is going to have a tough journey to a bestseller’s list. Readers want to escape into a story, and that can be difficult when they keep noticing mistakes within the text. Not only will copyediting boost the credibility of you as an author, but it will take your book to the next level. Not only will your book be full of well-crafted characters, interesting plot lines, and witty dialogue, it’ll also be error-free.
Copyediting saves you time.
The last thing anyone wants to do when they finish writing is to turn around and edit that same piece of work. It’s hard to catch your own mistakes when you’ve been staring at the same pages for hours, and it can seem tedious and redundant to read it over several times. Hiring a professional to copyedit your work will save you the trouble of reading and rereading your manuscript, plus it’s likely they’ll catch errors you wouldn’t have noticed in your post-writing fatigue. You’ll save yourself hours of editing your own work—a thing all authors dread and despise—plus you’ll ensure the edits will be thorough and professional.
Copyediting can help you see what you can’t see.
Wired magazine covered the terrifying topic of why we can’t catch our own typos. Since we know the writer’s brain can’t both write and edit to the degree of accuracy needed by a professionally published book, how “perfect” can we expect any one project to be? These editors have discussed the acceptance range of errors to pass through the drafts and end up in the final book. If a pro proofreader or copyeditor misses between 5 and 20% of the typos and errors in your book, how many do you think you might miss if you skip this step altogether?
Though it may be costly, copyediting is a worthy investment if you want your book to be taken seriously and if you want to avoid errors in your book post-publication that your future readers will undoubtedly find. Investing in copyediting will save you tons of time, headaches, and money down the road.
Rachel is a travel writer based in Arizona. In addition to writing and publishing several guidebooks, she's written for Wander AZ, Narcity Media, and CNET. Working as both a copyeditor and writer, she specializes in road trip content and manuscript editing.