Kathy Lapeyre

Things You Don’t Know When You Decide to Self-publish Your Book-Part 2

Hey y’all! Hope it’s been a good week. I’ve been working on two short stories for a few summer contests that I’m entering. But I wanted to continue with my series about things I didn’t know when I self-published. Keep in mind, y’all, I’M STILL LEARNING. I just had a conversation with another author friend (Sarah M. Cradit) today about ways to improve sales. It is a never-ending process and if you are serious about self-publishing or even writing a book, you need to read this. 

In case you missed last week’s post about stepping out of your comfort zone, you can read it here

So #2 in Things You Don’t Know….

You will need an editor. You cannot under ANY circumstances rely on your personal editing skills, your bff who is a teacher, or any self-help book on editing. Those are great resources, but TRUST ME it doesn’t replace a professional getting their hands on your manuscript. Do not be duped into thinking your readers won’t notice the errors because of your awesome story. They will and when they call you out on it, they probably won’t be nice. Hire an editor. Now, there will be someone who doesn’t  heed my advice, publishes an unedited book, and hits the NYT bestsellers, but their story is the exception, not the rule. Besides, your book is basically an extension of you. Don’t you want to put your best self out there?

With my first book, The Waiting, I seriously was days away from self-publishing without any more than a few family and friends reading the book. The errors inside that book would have made me the laughing stock of the literary community or at least those who read it. And rightfully so! I’m not for being a troll, but I appreciate it when books are easy to read and error free. Believe me, people are going to pick apart what you write anyway. I’d rather them pick apart my style and content, rather than my inability to use a word correctly or my bad habit of placing prepositional phrases awkwardly.

But Elizabeth, it cost so much…

Yep. It’s not cheap. It doesn’t have to break the bank, but if someone wants to edit your 115k manuscript for $100, then they are looking for easy money. I tell Kathy all the time paying her is like buying tampons or laundry detergent. In other words: necessity

I’m sure you can get someone who’s ‘just good at English’ to look over it and that may work for you, but I feel pretty awesome to know someone who’s worked in the book business has looked at my manuscript several times. Research your editor. Ask for credentials. Ones who are serious will give them to you without asking. 

What does an editor do, you ask? Well, in the first issue of Witch Dance – which I admit, I was a little lazy with the self-edits – I used the word THAT over 600 times, not to mention several other grammatical issues. I am dsylexic and though I don’t believe it’s ever been a problem when I’ve sent a manuscript to Kathy, I’m really thankful for a set of eyes to make sure I don’t write grapped instead of grabbed

Below, I’d like to show you what editing looks like. Of course, all editors are different but if your editor isn’t teaching as she (or he) goes along, find someone else. Naturally, you should grow as a writer with each book, and your editor should be a huge part of that process. (You may need to enlarge my photos.) 

That’s the Prologue to my first book. Subtle differences, right? My voice hasn’t changed and I’m still conveying my message, but I’m doing it in a way that makes me and my story look good. 

After edits, here’s the final product: (italicized for emphasis)

Arianne Douglas stood over her son. Her dead son. Murder weapon in hand. Blood and tears running down her face. Helpless. Powerless. Paralyzed. Recalling his first steps, first words. There would be no more firsts. Her child was dead. Startled by the buzzing of her cell phone next to his body, she answered but did not speak.

“Ari?” her best friend said, “you called but didn’t leave a message. Andrew texted me about the fight between Reece and Nash. I’m on my way to you now.”



“Lesley, I need you.” Arianne sobbed into the phone. “He’s dead, he’s dead… my baby… my son… Les, he’s dead… God, please no… I’m so sorry, baby…” Her voice broke with every word.

“Arianne, I’m on my way. Are you still at the house?” Lesley Huff remembered her recurring dream, pangs of regret pelting her heart. A storm was coming.


“Have you called the police?” she asked, certain Arianne had not.

“No, only you,” she cried. “My… my son…”

“Dammit Ari, call the police. Now.”

Ending the call, Lesley pressed the accelerator, speeding down West Esplanade Avenue. Arianne hadn’t said which son she had found. Thinking of her own two little girls, she choked back tears for her dearest friend.

South Lake Drive was quiet except for Lake Pontchartrain’s choppy waters lapping over the levee rocks. Lesley wrapped one arm around her chest, her breathing stifled by the heavy Gulf wind. Sirens screeched in the distance and the night sky was filled with the blue and red glow of emergency vehicles. She was glad they were close. Parking next to Arianne’s Jeep, Lesley offered a silent prayer of thanks that Arianne’s thirteen-year-old son, Pike, was with his father and nowhere near this house tonight. So was it Nash? Or Reece. Both of their trucks were parked underneath the awning. Fearful, she opened the back door leading to a dark kitchen, and a bloody Arianne cradling the lifeless body of her son.


“Holy Mary

Mother of God,

Pray for us sinners 

Now and at the hour of our death.”

Man, I remember going through this book with Kathy and almost throwing in the towel, but I didn’t because I loved my story and I had a patient and long-suffering editor who was willing to go through the manuscript line after line, and help me make it the best it could be at that time. Of course, now both Kathy and me can see so much we’d do differently and that’s awesome. It means we’ve both grown in our craft. 

Editing is a grueling process. With The Waiting, I cut characters, passages, I even changed as few tertiary plot lines for the sake of the story. But if you have caring and patient editor, they’ll be right beside you in the trenches, helping you discern what’s best for your story. 

My editor – Kathy Lapeyre is a primarily a line editor. Here’s a bit what she does in her words: “I use a combination of line editing and copy editing on the first pass… then copy editing mixed with proofreading on the next one. If three readings are booked, I use a formula of line/copy, then copy, and finish up with a thorough proofread.” 

Every single one of my novels had something that I unconsciously picked as my error. As I said earlier with Witch Dance, it was the excessive use of THAT. Another one, it was starting too many sentences with And and But. Kathy helps me see a new way to write, correcting the problem and enhancing the final product. 

Your editor should be an encourager. The author/editor relationship is special. They should always elevate you and your work to higher standards. I consider my writing good before it goes to Kathy. When she gets done, it’s GREAT. So much so that I know if someone doesn’t like my work, it’s not because I’m a terrible writer but because they didn’t like the subject matter or my style, not because I broke every rule in the book. 

Give  your story the love and attention it deserves and hire an editor. 

For Your Reading Pleasure…Kathy Lapeyre – editor


I try to be unbiased with all the authors I feature even if they are friends or acquaintances, but today’s feature is not an author, it’s an editor. And not just any editor, but MY editor.
Kathy is so much more than someone who corrects grammar and punctuation…she’s a sounding board, a cheerleader, a promoter, and a critic.
She has knowledge and insight into the character’s heads that sometimes rivals my own. Kathy’s ability extends to every manuscript she edits. She has an innate ability to ‘feel’ the books, and also, the integrity to tell it like it is.
I’ve always believed that people cross our path at the exact juncture we need them, but if I didn’t, Kathy would have made me a believer. Y’all enjoy this feature on the best editor out there!!

Tell us about yourself and your background with editing. May include links to Facebook, website, twitter.

Anyone who reads my Facebook posts knows I’m an editor. But my primary role is wife (47 years to the same man … my best friend), mother of two grown children, and grandmother to one. My husband and I retired six years ago, and both of us found that staying busy is what we enjoy. A few years ago, I started a full-time editing business, working from home, and he spends most of his days making beautiful knick-knacks and furniture in his woodshop.

What services do you offer?

I do a combination of copy editing, line editing, and proofreading for fiction (short stories, novellas, novels, and the blurbs and excerpts associated with them).

Tell us the difference between a developmental editor and a copy editor.

A developmental editor usually works with an author prior to completion, or at the very beginning stages of writing the manuscript, to help develop characters and plots. This type of editor is likely to suggest character name changes and major changes in story flow or plots prior to the story going to a copy editor. I don’t do any developmental work.
Copy editor is what most people mean when they use the generic term, “editor.” It’s my primary function to catch the errors in basic grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure. That includes fact checking, fixing repetition of descriptive words, pronouns, proper tenses and matching verbs and nouns, noting any inconsistencies in characters or plots and alerting the author to them. I read each manuscript at least twice … once for the edit and a second time after the author has dealt with those suggestions, for a proofread or subsequent edit. Style sheets are kept for each manuscript, particularly when a series is involved.

What’s the normal turnaround time for an edit?

Of course, the time it takes for each manuscript varies, even ones with the same word count, but most manuscripts between 50,000 and 150,000 words take 10-14 days for the first edit, and another week or so for the subsequent one.

Can you give us an idea of how you determine the cost?

Every new author I work with provides me a sample of the manuscript to be edited. I supply a 5-10 page free sample edit so the author can see my editing style, and I use that to gauge the complexity of the edit required. From that information, I provide a price quote and turnaround time. My prices are based on word count, and a formula I use to calculate the approximate number of hours needed for completing the project.

What is your editing process?

I read the manuscript as I would any book, for enjoyment. Because of my training and 25 years working in the printing/publishing industry, my “editing brain” works whether I want it to or not. I can’t turn off the need to correct errors in grammar and sentence structure. Sometimes I can read many chapters in a day, in other cases, I’m lucky to read 30 pages during an 8-hour period because of the need to read and re-read each sentence to make sure it fits. Every time a word or punctuation mark is changed, it has the potential to alter others, so once a change is made, it prompts another read-through of that sentence or surrounding paragraphs.
A typical editing day is 10-12 hours with breaks for meals and normal life interruptions (a quick trip to the grocery store or tossing a load of laundry in the washing machine). Eight hours of actual editing a day is normal. The only time I take full days off is generally when I need to clear my editing brain between manuscripts, so 6-7 days a week, I’m right here … doing what I love.

Do you listen to music when you edit? If so, what kind?

I have a writing playlist that’s a mix of soft music, mostly instrumental, that I occasionally play at a low volume in the background. Most of the time, when I’m into a serious edit, I prefer complete quiet so I can concentrate on each word. Also, when I do the second reading, I generally read out loud. Music or TV sounds would disrupt my process. I never edit where a TV or radio, even from another room, can be heard.

What kind of books do you read for fun?

My usual schedule doesn’t allow for much pleasure reading. When I do read, I love my Kindle and the same genres I edit. My favorites (no particular order) are drama (crime drama, including mystery and suspense – I love detective stories), paranormal (yep, witches, vampires, werewolves, dragons, and faeries), light romance (if there’s a good plot involved or great humor – nothing too serious), fantasy (even some YA fantasy). I’m not a big fan of any reading that’s written strictly for shock factor. Erotica isn’t my favorite, but I’ve read and edited a few excellent stories – My age is considered “senior,” but it’s not the same thing as dead. SciFi as a genre isn’t my favorite, but I enjoy well-written books and manuscripts that are in that category.

What do you enjoy most about what you do?

Seeing the realization from authors when the light turns on and they know their writing has improved after working through a few edits with me. My primary reason for doing this is to educate writers to become better at their craft.

In your opinion, why do writers need editors?

It’s not an option for any serious writer or author. The best writing begins in the creative side of the brain. Excellent writers aren’t expected to be super creative AND know all the mundane rules of English grammar. There’s a fine line between writing brilliant copy and putting correct words on the page. A trained or experienced editor uses the other side his/her brain and instinctively spots words and phrases the author misses. Besides, after an author reads and re-reads his/her own manuscript dozens of times, words that aren’t there appear to be in the writer’s mind.

Walk us through the editing process from your standpoint.

I sample edit and provide the author with a price quote and when I’m actually ready to begin work, a 50% deposit is due. When the first edit is complete, the balance of payment is due, and I send the manuscript to the author for input (to accept or reject suggestions, and any rewriting or additional copy the author thinks is necessary based on my ideas). The author is under no time restrictions at this point and when it’s ready, the manuscript is returned to me for proofreading (or second reading). At this point, the manuscript takes priority in my schedule and I go through it again, checking for additional errors and looking at each item or comment left in red by the author. When I’m satisfied that the text is good, I send it back to the author for publishing.

What about the author’s standpoint? What can we expect with your edits?

I take editing seriously. Starting in 1972, I was trained by craftsmen, experts in their field, to do this work. Due to scarcity of job availability in a new location after a move for my husband’s work, I changed occupations in 1997 and didn’t return to editing until several years ago when a friend asked me to help with his manuscript. I spent about a year taking classes, attending online seminars, reading, and brushing up on my skills. Indie Editing by Kathy was founded in 2013.
My edits and critique of the stories are honest and sincere. When I notice a line that’s especially touching or heartwarming, I offer proper praise in the margin comments. By the same token, when errors are repeated, or I spot something that detracts from the manuscript (or when a character does or says something that doesn’t fit, I note it). I offer praise where merited … but don’t sugar coat the criticism. My edits are never aimed personally at the author and most comments are teaching in nature.

Do you have any favorite snacks or drinks that you eat/drink while editing?

I’m a morning person (sometimes starting work as early as 5 a.m.), so I begin my editing day with 2 cups of coffee. Last year I bought a Keurig machine and the second cup is usually a flavored one … pumpkin spice is my favorite. Since my husband isn’t a morning person, I usually eat breakfast in front of the computer monitor too. Other than that, I generally don’t snack much other than an apple or a handful of nuts in the late afternoon.

Tell us about your other passions.

After writing and editing, photography is my next love … particularly landscapes. Music, a wide variety, has always been present in my daily life. My iPod contains over 2,500 songs (in 22 genres), 6 movies (all Twilight saga), and almost a hundred audio books. Oh, and I’m a really good cook.

What’s something interesting about you?

I rarely watch TV, maybe a few hours a week. When I’m not editing, I prefer to read or listen to music (or audiobooks). My husband laughs at me while I dance around the house, sock-footed, headphones on, doing normal housework or cooking. I love travel, and particularly cruising. It’s been a big part of my life. My husband and I have taken more than 30 cruises all over the world. I’ve been to all 50 states (a few only at airports, but still … it counts, right?) and lived in 14 states (some on multiple occasions) and our family wasn’t military. If we manage to sell our house this year, a 15th state will be involved.

Do you accept all clients?

Sadly, no. Although I welcome new clients, not all manuscripts are ready for a copy edit. Some stories need the services of a developmental editor or writing group. Others should have independent critiques or beta reading and basic proofreading done prior to the author paying an editor. I make suggestions and referrals accordingly.
Most of my work comes from repeat business or referrals, but I turn away probably 3 out of every 10 new requests. I always let those writers know that I’d be happy to work with them in the future, but I explain the reasons their manuscript isn’t ready for my particular service. If they follow my advice, they could end up saving a lot of time, frustration, and money.

Is there a genre you prefer to edit?

The same ones I listed on my personal reading preference, but if I had to pinpoint a few … drama (including detective stories, mystery, suspense, and crime-drama) – paranormal – light romance … and it might sound contrary, but I love editing children’s books. I currently have several clients who write books for children aged 9-12 and those books are entertaining and fun to edit.

Do you have any tips for that writer who’s just starting out?

Yes, the more eyes on your manuscript, the better. Take each opinion for what it’s worth. ARC copy readers and betas are great sources of free input, but their knowledge of actual editing is likely limited. Join a local or online writing group or critique group. Write from your heart (and what’s in your head), instead of what’s popular and selling at the moment. Trends change and most readers know if your writing is forced.

Anything you’d like to say to your current and future clients?

Be true to yourself, your characters, and your plots. Find a good editor and stick with him/her. That person should be your literary confidante and collaborator … someone you can bounce ideas off without fear of the mocking and eye-rolling that you might get from friends or relatives. Write … and write … and write … and read as much as possible too. Learn from mistakes you see in your own and other writers’ work (even the traditionally-published professionals). Develop your own style and polish it. “You keep writing … I’ll keep editing.”