The Guardians of Eastgate

Book 1 of The Seers Series

Professional Editing: Another Service Indie Authors Can’t Afford to Skimp On

Along with cover design, professional editing is a service no indie author can afford to skimp on.

Beta reading, proofreading, copy-editing, line editing, content editing, structural editing – what do these terms mean, and do we indie authors really need to worry about all that? The short answer is YES, especially if you want to present your story in the best possible light.



Whew! You’ve finally completed that manuscript you’ve been slaving over, or lovingly bringing to life (whatever your process is). You can now crack your knuckles, sit back and relax, maybe even take a nap, because the hard part is over. Right?


There are still many things to be done before your book is ready to be published. One of the most important of these is editing.

As I mentioned above, there are many different aspects and levels to editing. Unless you are a trained and practiced editor, there may be things you will miss if you try to do all the editing yourself. Even if you are a trained editor, it is difficult for an author to edit their own work, since we know what we mean and where we are coming from. It is difficult to step back and look at our work from an unbiased perspective to see if there are sections that are unclear, repetitive, out of place, and so on. This is where having a third-party, unbiased and professional editor comes in.

Some questions you may be asking now are: What do all those editing terms mean, anyway? How much does editing cost? How long will the editing process take?

The answers to these questions depend on the length of your book, the level of editing you require and how polished, or self-edited, your book is before submitting it to a professional editor. It also depends on the qualifications and experience level of your chosen editor, and that editor’s workload.

Is it important starting out to have a deep understanding of what each of the above editing terms means? No, not really. But you should know enough to understand what you are signing up for when you hire an editor and to make your expectations clear. Also, if your budget is tight, you can decide on what you can do yourself and what you really need an objective, professional eye for.


Though the terminology might differ a little from source to source and between fiction and non-fiction, here are some basic explanations for the types/levels of editing you may require:



  1. Beta reading

I consider beta-reading to be a stage in the editing process and prefer to have it done early, soon after my first draft is complete – or second, depending on how I feel about my manuscript.

When hiring a beta reader, it is important to clearly outline your expectations for them. I tell my beta readers to read the novel as they would read any book and take note of places where the pace moves too fast or too slow, sections they were tempted to skip over, and any obvious plot holes. Also, were there any sections that didn’t make sense, or that did not seem to fit with the genre or story? Are there sections or scenes that just didn’t seem to work for them?

You could get friends and family to beta read for you, and I do. But I also pay people who beta read professionally and know what they are looking for. Getting friends and family to beta read your work might be budget friendly, but unless they are fans of your specific genre and know what they are looking for, there is no guarantee of how useful their feedback will be.

The main reason I get beta reading done early, before I get into the heavy editing, is in case there is useful feedback I can incorporate in my revisions. You don’t want to go through the time, effort, and cost of editing scenes that you will end up cutting or changing, for example.


  1. Story Level / Structural editing

I start with the bigger picture, the story level or structural editing. This is a good place to start because, like with the beta-reading, you might decide there are sections or scenes that do not work for what you are trying to achieve, or sections that need to be reworked. If you do your sentence or scene level edits first on sections that you end up deciding to cut when you get to your story level edits, then you’ve just wasted time, effort and possibly cash.

This level is a big-picture look at your work. Does it have a beginning, middle, and end? Is there a beginning hook, rising action, climax and resolution? Are there scenes that have no real purpose and do not move the story forward? Did you choose the correct character as your protagonist? Is your character development and world-building detailed without dumping information on readers in a way that will lose their interest? Do you “show” the readers more often than you “tell” them?


  1. Scene level / content editing

In this level, editors will go through each scene and ask: Does this scene have a beginning, middle and end? Is there a beginning hook, rising action, a climax and a resolution (this should be the case both at the story level and at the scene level)? Does the scene move the story forward? Is there conflict in each scene? And so on and so on.


  1. Sentence level / line editing / copyediting

Regardless of the term used for this level of editing, it involves looking at your story line by line, or sentence by sentence. Here, editors will look at sentence structure, spelling, grammar and punctuation. This is the level that should be done last because, again, you don’t want to spend a lot of time, effort and/or money inspecting and dissecting sentences or lines that you are just going to end up cutting or changing down the line.

  1. Proofreading

Proofreading is the inspection that takes place just before a manuscript is about to be published. It is a very close look at your story. Proofreaders look for any mistakes or problems that may have been missed earlier in the editing process. Like copyediting (and some may use the terms interchangeably), the focus is on grammar, spelling, punctuation and capitalization.

Proofreading is important because, in a novel of 90,000 words or more, for example, it is easy for little things to slip through. I personally have self-edited manuscripts numerous times, had them edited by a professional, and have still caught mistakes after all that.


If you are an indie author, hiring a professional editor is undoubtedly the way to go. When you are writing your first (and each subsequent) work that you wish to publish, make sure you budget some funds to cover editing.

You can easily find beta-readers and editors online and through social media. Here are a few sites to get you started:

To learn more about editing your own work, see the links below, which are sites/programs I have used to help me become a better editor and writer, and which have a lot of useful information on editing:

Manuscript Magic:

The Story Grid:


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Guest Post: LITERARY AWARDS for the LITTLE GUYS by James Gault


Last month, we published a survey of the main literary awards available to authors from the large established publishing houses. But how can new independent authors get artistic recognition for their work? The good news is that there is a wide range of competitions open to books from small independent publishers, including self-publishers. There is of course bad news: there is an entry fee for just about all of them, the prizes are small, and they don’t benefit from the wide publicity given to the likes of the Man Booker prize or the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Vox Lit wants to publicise these less well-known events. Not just because we love to champion the Davids against the Goliaths, or because we firmly believe that good quality innovative writing exists outside the closed world of the big names. We really want readers to know about these awards, and hopefully seek out the winners and short-listed authors and at least consider buying and reading their books. If we can encourage readers everywhere to expand their horizons, we’ll have done a good job in keeping the written word alive, flourishing and developing.

Most of the competitions are run by US organisations, and we’ve only found one currently active in the UK. The Rubery Book Award claims to be ‘the self-publishers’ and independent publishers’ answer to the MAN Booker Prize and the Costa Prize’. It offers awards in five categories (Non Fiction, Young Adult, Short Story, Fiction and Children’s) and the entrance fee is £36. You can find more on this competition at

In 2017, Amazon UK ran its Kindle Storyteller Award (more at the link below.) This was open to all previous unpublished books published on KDP, and unusually it had a significant prize (£20,000). Unfortunately, there is no sign so far of it being repeated in 2018. )

That about wraps it up for the UK, but if any of our readers know of other UK competitions please use the comments box to let us know.

While there seems to a paucity of UK awards, authors who live in the US are spoiled for choice, and we have included only a small selection here. And ,even if you are based in another country, these competitions tend to be open to all English speaking authors who have their work on sale in the USA.

The Benjamin Franklin Awards, run by the Independent Book Publishers Association, offers a comprehensive publicity package to winners but no cash prize. Authors don’t have to be a member of the Association to enter, but it will cost them a whopping $225 as opposed to the $95 entry fee for members. The link is .

The IPPY awards (  ) is another competition where the winners benefit only from publicity, with no direct injection  of cash into their pockets.

Eric Hoffer Award ( ) does offer a cash prize for the winner, $2000, and the entry fee is a more reasonable $55 (chapbooks $40). There is also the publicity benefit, as the award is covered by the US Review of Books.

The Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group organise the Next Generation Indie Book Awards ( ) with cash prizes of up to $1500 in many categories. Authors pay from $75 to enter this one.

Shelf Unbound book review magazine runs a competition with a prize of $500 and an entrance fee of $50 per title. Over 100 of the best entries will receive publicity in the magazine. The link is .

For a $50 fee, writers can enter the Best Indie Book (BIB) Awards ( ) where the prize is a package of publicity goodies rather than hard cash. The goody bag includes a rather smart digital winner’s medal that authors can put on their web pages and book covers.

Finally, in this far from comprehensive list, we’d like to mention the The Kindle Book Awards from the Kindle Book Review website. This offers winners in eight genre classes a publicity package similar to BIB and the added benefit of cash prizes up to $750, for an entrance fee of $29.

Our survey talks about only some of what is available, but for writers and readers wanting to know of more competitions, there is a fuller list published by the Alliance of Independent Authors at . This survey not only lists awards, but it rates them as well, so a big thanks to the authors of this page.

So there it is: a list of some literary awards you may never have heard of. Let us encourage you, as a reader or writer, to follow up on these competitions and widen your knowledge. It’s the best way to  participate in the fascinating and engrossing book world of the twenty-first century.

Acknowledgements: Thank you to Erica Verrillo  from  ‘Curiosity Never Killed the Writer’ (web site for her useful article on US awards.

Contributed by James Gault



James Gault

James Gault is an author of short stories, novels and English Language textbooks. He lived, worked and taught for many years in Prague, but now lives and continues to write in the South of France.

He also runs the blog Vox Lit, where authors post comments by their characters on aspects of real life.

His latest novel, The Redemption of Anna Petrovna, is due for release shortly.


Visit James Gault on Amazon Author Central:

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About The Guardians of Eastgate: Seers Book I (Second Edition)



An ancient evil threatens the future of the realm of Sterrenvar. A race of people called seers has appointed themselves Guardians of the Realm, guarding the safety of their world and all the people in it. Maelona Sima is one of four seer champions tasked with protecting the four keystones from evil forces that wish to destroy them, thus leaving an immeasurable magical force free to be used against the realm’s inhabitants. Yet Maelona is more than a seer. She is unique in her world, and she is the best hope of survival for the people of Sterrenvar…the very people who once hunted down and killed many of the seer people out of fear and mistrust. Protecting the keystones is the first line of defense against the evil sorcerer who wishes to enslave the realm. Can Maelona, a guardian of the keystone at Eastgate, and her friends Blaez, a wolf shifter, and Gareth, a human prince, bring together their peoples to save Eastgate from destruction in this first book of the Seers series?


The Guardians of Eastgate Audiobook




For New or Aspiring Authors:

My cover designer is starting her holiday sale early this year.
Check out her website for her portfolio and prices (click
on the image).





(Click on the event name for a link to the website. Click on the place name for a Google Map of the area.)



WHEN:  Sunday, September 9th, 2018, Noon until 5pm

WHERE: Eden Mills, Ontario


WHEN: Sunday, September 23, 2018      1o am – 5 pm

WHERE: Toronto, Harbourfront Centre, Exhibitor Booth #417

The Guardians of Eastgate is now available to purchase locally in the Waterloo and Guelph regions at the bookstores below. Click on the images to visit the store websites:



Click to visit my Amazon Author Page!



The Guardians of Eastgate: Book 1 of The Seers Series, has won a Literary Titan Gold Award!  Check out the awards page here.







The Second Edition of The Guardians of Eastgate, Book 1 of The Seers Series, is now available
on Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble, in print and eBook formats!

Click the image to link to the book on


Click the images to link to the book on those websites



Click the widget at the bottom of the page to link to the book on Smashwords

Click on the image to sign up for my author newsletter, and recieve a FREE copy of my short story collection, The Guardians of Sterrenvar




Come wander the magical world of Sterrenvar, where swords & sorcery,

action & adventure, seers & shifters all await you.


Guided tours now available at online booksellers.