Dear Self Published Authors.

Hi, how’s things? I’m sorry to say, but this is going to be a bit of a rant.

You may not know this about me, but despite the fact that my main Hellequin books aren’t self-published anymore, Crimes Against Magic originally started that way. In fact, I’m still self published with my novella.

I know it’s hard work, and getting your name out there is difficult. I know it’s not just about hard work, and long hours, but there’s a lot of luck involved too. On top of actually writing the book, you have to juggle a whole of other stuff lot. But here’s something you should know, and it’s important.



A good one. One you have to pay for, not Bob who works in accounting. Get someone who knows their shit. And if you have a friend who is an editor, then awesome, but otherwise find someone. Pay them. An author needs an editor like everyone needs water: You can manage without for a while, but eventually it’s going to catch up to you and the you’re ballsed. It’s not the best analogy, but it’s been a long day and it’s as good as you’re going to get.

I love seeing people succeed in something they love doing. It’s awesome. But to succeed you need to do it right. So, when you’ve got your awesome cover, and the story is great, and you’re really happy with it. Think to yourself, did I get this professionally edited? If the answer is anything but, “yes, of course I bloody well did” it’s the wrong answer.

Now, I’m not talking to all self-published authors, and hopefully this won’t result in a deluge of pissed off people all thinking I mean them, because the likelihood is, I don’t. There are tons of brilliant self-published works. Right now, I’m reading a self-published work, and it’s fantastic. Because apart from having an awesome cover, and a good story, it’s edited. Professionally edited.

For those of you who this is about, who I am talking to. I really can’t stress how important it is to get your work edited. Yes it costs money, but if you don’t, I can pretty much guarantee you’re not going to be selling a huge amount. And if you were serious enough about writing the book in the first place, be serious enough to act like a professional.

Rant over.

Posted on February 3, 2016, in Writing and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. I’m self published. I use an editor. Simple as that. When I’m not an author, I’m a journalist who has spent most of the last 20 years writing my own copy, and editing other people’s copy – and as such, I know that no matter how good you are, you cannot effectively catch all the faults in your own work.

  2. I read a ton of books, it’s my hobby. The first thing I look for in the review section are complaints because of the editing. If there is, I move on. I have no patience with authors who can’t be bothered to have their work proofed. It’s irritating and ends up drawing me out of the world I’m immersed in.

  3. Late Night Blonde

    As an avid reader (who LOVES your books BTW) I give a heartfelt “Bless you!” It is annoying to trip over small errors littered through an otherwise excellent read. For an author to get that far and not use that final polish – does he or she want a reader to finish with “That was really good, what a shame…”? I can imagine a few editors out there smiling as readers finally catch on to how much we now appreciate their work – especially if it’s missing.

  4. Steve, first I want to say that I am a huge fan of the Hellequin Chronicles. I’ve read them numerous times, which is saying something about your storytelling ability because I never read books more than once. Here is my plight. If you have the time to consider it, I would love your feedback. I am in the process of “trying” to self publish. I’m on my last draft, final revisions, post beta readers, and prior to having someone review it for proofing. I’ve done the best I can in terms of looking for editors, but I think what other independent writers may be struggling with is the ability to A) find an editor who will take on the work or B) the cost alone for commissioning an editor. I have experienced both during the three years I’ve spent trying to publish. I’ve had beta readers tell me I ‘need’ to publish my work (which is encouraging), but finding an editor has been problematic.

    How do you overcome major challenges like these? How do you get an editor to stop thinking, “You independents are a dime a dozen and not worth my time” (word for word what I was told from one person before they quoted me $5,000 up front for a commission)?

    I would love for my work to do well, however unlikely that may be, but the unfortunate reality for me, which I’m sure is true for others, is any editor wanting to charging 5% – 25% of my annual income is an impossible gate cost. You are right, spot on, in your article. Author’s need an editor and things need to be done right. I cannot disagree. Sorry for the wall of text. I hope you don’t see this as someone making excuses or whining because I’ve truly struggled with this issue. Thank you and keep up the excellent work!

  5. Have you read Laurence Dahners? I believe he’s self published, as I can’t think of any other way he could put out a new book every 2-3 months. And his day job is Orthopedic Surgeon. I don’t think he uses an editor, but his books are awesome. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use an editor, just that Dahners is grinding out great novels at an Issac Asimov pace, apparently without an editor or a publisher. And anyone doing such a great job, should be investigated.

  6. Its one of the things that sets your writing apart, the professional feel to your self published work was easily noticed and made the whole thing feel better, on another note, stop posting here and get on the next damn Hellequin book, were all waiting , in fact don,t even read any further, its wasting valuable writing time, go………….why are you still here…sheesh….by the way you might enjoy reading Kel Kade ( dark Tidings….its interesting and I think shows how an editor can change the premise of a book) and Ryan Kirk with his Nightblade books, well we have to fill the time whilst waiting for more Hellequin, I have re read your whole series 3 times now

  7. When I’m rating books on goodreads, I only ever give a 1 star book to those that I disliked so much that I didn’t finish them. While one of those is down to it being mind-numbingly dull (Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman) the rest are all self-published books which clearly weren’t well edited. Considering a surprising chunk of my 5 star books (which make up less than 15% of my total rated books) are either self-published or started that way – including all the Hellequin books – I feel I’ve earned the right to consider myself a champion of self publishing… and the right to be absolutely intolerant of bad editing.

    And if anyone really wonders if they need an editor – I have never gone a whole 24 hours without spotting a mistake in either the book I’m reading at the time, or one of my two favourite news sites (BBC News and The Guardian). Considering that they are all very professionally edited and STILL have mistakes, how can any writer think that they’re capable of spotting their own.

    No-one is more blind to ones own mistakes than oneself. I normally mention that in the context of why therapists and coaches must also get therapy or coaching while they help others, but it’s true in most things, including writing!

  8. You make some excellent points. I’ve picked up some books for Kindle that are excellent stories, great plots, but the grammar is off, too many misspellings to overlook, punctuation in the wrong place. Ruins what could be a great book.

  9. Amen!!!!!!!! So many novels and series with so much potential… yet ruined my multiple errors, misspellings, and plot mishaps! Love the series by the way, I am eagerly awaiting book 6 – infinity

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