3 min read

What to do if you can't afford an editor for your manuscript

An abstract image with scribbles, representing the editing process.

Writing can be a labour of love, and often the coins in our proverbial piggy bank may not match our dreams. But don't worry; being tight on funds doesn't mean the quality of your work needs to suffer. With a pinch of patience, a dollop of determination, and a generous helping of elbow grease, you can turn your manuscript into a masterpiece, even if a professional editor's fee is currently out of reach.

DIY: The art of self-editing

One could argue that a writer's best tool is their ability to edit their own work. It's like being a sculptor, chipping away at the marble until David emerges. So, roll up your sleeves, get your chisels ready – it's time to do some self-editing.

The cooling-off period

The key to effective self-editing is to create a temporal distance between writing and editing. After finishing your manuscript, put it away for a few weeks. Yes, you heard it right. This is the 'cooling-off period' – when you pretend your manuscript doesn't exist. Your brain will thank you, and when you return to your work, you'll see it with fresh eyes, noticing things that were invisible before.

The devil is in the details

Once your cooling-off period is over, it's time to dive in. You're looking for more than just misplaced commas and spelling errors. This is the time to scrutinise your story structure, character development, pacing, and plot consistency. Question everything. Is your story exciting enough? Are your characters believable? Are there any loose ends? Be merciless. Be your own worst critic. It's tough love, but your manuscript will be all the better for it.

Reading out loud: Listen to the melody of your prose

Here's a trick many writers use – read your manuscript out loud. Hearing your words can help you catch awkward phrasing, repetitive words, and run-on sentences. It's like listening to a song. If the melody doesn't flow, it's time to tweak the lyrics.

Online tools: Your digital grammar gurus

Platforms like Grammarly can be a boon to writers. These tools can help you identify grammatical errors and stylistic issues, and even help with sentence structure. However, remember that they aren't infallible. Use them as guides, but trust your judgement too.

Unleashing the power of community

While self-editing is vital, fresh eyes can often spot what yours might have missed. Thankfully, you don't need to break the bank for this.

Writing groups and online forums

There's a wealth of resources available in the form of writing groups and online forums. It's like having friends who are as nerdy about writing as you are – friends who will tell you what works in your story and what needs more polish.

Social media, beta readers and more

Use your social media to connect with other writers and readers. Engage with them and build a relationship – it can lead to finding invaluable beta readers who will provide constructive feedback.

Crowdfunding: When community becomes a lifeline

If you've tried the steps above and still feel you need a professional touch, consider crowdfunding. Websites like Kickstarter and GoFundMe can help you raise funds for editing services.

Launching a successful campaign: More than just asking for money

Creating a crowdfunding campaign isn't as simple as just asking for money. It requires strategy, planning, and a good dose of creativity. Here's how to get started:

Set a realistic goal

Setting a realistic funding goal is crucial. Do your research – understand how much you need for a professional editing service and set your target accordingly. Don't aim too high or too low. Remember, many crowdfunding platforms operate on an 'all-or-nothing' model – if you don't reach your target, you may not get anything.

Create a compelling pitch

Your campaign pitch is your chance to convince people to contribute to your project. Tell them about your manuscript – what's it about? Why is it unique? Why should they care? Make it engaging, and most importantly, make it heartfelt.

Offer rewards/incentives

Rewards and incentives can be a great way to encourage people to donate. These could be signed copies of your book, exclusive content, or personalised thank-you notes. The key is to offer something meaningful and valuable to your contributors.

Promote your campaign

Promotion is key. Share your campaign on social media, email newsletters, and any other platform you have at your disposal. The more visibility your campaign has, the more likely you are to reach your goal.

Making every penny count

Manuscript editing can feel like an uphill battle, especially when your resources are limited. But remember, every successful writer was once where you are now. The trick is to make the best use of what you have, whether it's honing your self-editing skills, using the power of community, or turning to crowdfunding. Your journey might be challenging, but the destination – a polished, ready-to-publish manuscript – will make it all worthwhile. So keep writing, keep editing, and remember – every word counts.