If you decide to independently publish, it's critical to have multiple sets of eyes review your work before pulling the trigger. I strongly recommend hiring a professional creative editor and a professional copy editor. If you don't have the budget for either, solicit input from friends, coworkers, or anyone else willing to help for nothing more than your gratitude and a signed copy of your book. (Be sure to include them in the acknowledgements!)
Creative editors help identify and fix problems with the major elements of your book, such as plot, character development, pacing, and style. However, not everyone is comfortable providing constructive criticism - especially to loved ones - so it's important to choose people who aren't afraid to tell it to you straight.
Copy editors have eagle eyes for typos, missing words, punctuation, grammar, repetition, etc. After so many hours of writing, rewriting, and tweaking, our brains begin to play tricks on our eyes, and we often see words that aren't there, or we don't see words that are. My mom proofread my most recent novel for me before I turned it over to anyone else, and she found more than 100 errors! Copyediting can be a great job for friends who want to help but aren't cut out for the "tough love" approach required to be an effective creative editor.
The bottom line is that when it comes time to edit your book (or promotional sign, see above), you need to check your ego at the door and welcome any feedback you can get - good, bad, or ugly. It's much better to hear the criticism from trusted friends now than from disappointed readers later, right?
Maria Murnane writes romantic comedies and provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.
This blog post originally appeared on CreateSpace.com. Reprinted with permission. © 2011 CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.