Okay, look: we believe in editing. When we meet an indie author who feels like their books are under-performing, the first question we ask is, "Did you have your book edited?"
We believe in editing. It's easy to get your head around the value of a great cover -- if the cover is bad, no one will pick the book up. But editing, what does it do for your readers? Here's how I explain it: an unedited or poorly edited book will almost never get a word-of-mouth recommendation. Good editing is the most effective long-term marketing strategy I've ever met. You can only expect to convince so many people to read your book. But if your book is poorly edited, those people won't ever talk about your book to anyone else.
So, how much should you stress over your content?
The only right answer is a lot. Too much.
Now, there's a caveat that needs to go here: It is possible to get frozen up about your content. It's possible to worry that it'll never be good enough. it's possible to lose your ability to separate yourself from the need for your content to be very good. So, you have to know when to quit.
But you cannot afford to go to market with unedited or poorly edited content. You've got to spend time on making it as good as it can possibly be. How can you do it?
- Hire professionals
We believe in the power of professional editors. An editor is someone whose bread and butter is helping authors create great content. They understand the market, they understand the rules and conventions of the market. And they come alongside and help you be better than you could ever be on your own.
- Crowd Source
I feel like this method is finally starting to get the credit it's due. More and more people are talking about beta readers, or using a group of readers to gather feedback. This can be tremendously beneficial in two areas. First, readers can help you identify "that doesn't make sense," problems in your story. Secondly, they can help you catch the dumb errors you'll overlook when you're reading the same content for the seven-hundredth time. Use your friends! Wait... that sounds wrong.
- Develop great instincts
Self-editing is really hard. In fact, I think it's dangerous when publishing professionals allow authors to think they can effectively edit themselves. You'll never be able to identify ALL your own blind spots. But you can learn to identify more and more of your blind spots. You do this by reading technical books about good writing and good editing. But more importantly, you do it by reading great books and developing an ear for great writing.
How much should you stress over your content? Lots. I promise, the remaining stigma around indie-publishing would completely disappear if every indie author decided to obsess over really great content.