Cyndy Aleo

Four Little Bees Writing & Editing

author, freelance writing, editing, and a little bit of web development, helping clients with content development, book editing, and blog set-up and customization

Self-publishing when you are broke, Part 2

(I'd be lying if I said I wasn't tempted to call it Part Deux)

subtitled: YOU CAN DO THIS! (It’s just going to take a little work.)

Okay, so yesterday I talked about how to do a cover when you’re broke. Today we are talking editing.

First, I’m going to say something not everyone is going to agree with: EVERYONE NEEDS AN EDITOR.

Sure, I’m a freelance editor, so I literally get paid to say that, but I believe it as well. I mean, I AM an editor and I still wouldn’t rely on myself to edit my stuff.

Here’s the thing: You can catch a lot of things if you are careful and skilled. What you can’t do (ever) is view your work objectively. We all go through those moments of “OMG, this is amazing” and then “OMG, I can’t write and this sucks” but the thing is, we’re emotionally connected to our words either way.

That’s where having someone come in and look at your stuff is KEY.

I know what you are saying: Editors are expensive. Yes. They are. My rates are at the low end of the scale, and I still wouldn’t be able to afford myself. You can, however, potentially skimp on this IF YOU DO THE WORK.

By work, I don’t mean run spellcheck and grammar check and call it a day. I mean, put a great team together for yourself. You need a group of crit partners/betas who are going to be bluntly honest with you. If you send out your MS to someone, and that person says “I love it! I wouldn’t change a thing”? You need to find someone new.

This is HARD and it takes a lot of time. You have to find people and be willing to do the same for them and you also have to find the right people and develop a skin thick enough to not take offense when someone says “This part sucks and you need to rewrite it.”

There’s no room for snowflakes here, and it’s not a fast process. I mean, let’s face it: You’ll note my acknowledgments contain some people who have some pretty popular books. That means they are busy people. And lots of times, they don’t have time to read my stuff, so it also helps to:


I actually use different betas for different stuff. Some, like Eden Barber, do everything. (Also, if you are lucky enough to have an Eden Barber, you should reward them with things like rotisserie chickens, because she copy edited for me and is SUPER SMART. I mean, she can READ IPA pronunciations. Without looking things up)

The key is to be open. Be willing to barter. Be willing to accept criticism GLADLY and then have a discussion about which things you agree with and which you really don’t. But definitely don’t write in a vacuum. And try to hook up with writers who are as good or better than you are, but also try to help others who might not have been writing as long.

Also, here’s my uncomfortable standard shill. Buy my book, won’t you? Or at least download the sample and see if you might like me? I can always use more crit. I can take it. I went to CATHOLIC SCHOOL.