If you don’t pay for book editing, it’s going to cost you

professional editing

Speaking from experience, author and PhD in Theology Dr. Tony Lewis can attest that book editing is “a process that just can’t be rushed. Authors need to take their time and do it right.”

book editingGod only knows why Dr. Tony Lewis, the president of Christian Bible Institute and Seminary in Spring, Texas, didn’t get professional editing for his book. “Something was telling me I should have paid to have it edited,” he says. “Had I done that, it would saved me a lot of money in the long run.”

It proved to be an expensive – and potentially embarrassing – mistake for the self-published author. But today, it’s a lesson that the Texas theologian now wants to share far and wide to prospective BookBaby authors.

“If just one author is persuaded to edit his book because of my situation, then I’ll be happy,” said Lewis. “It’s imperative that you have your book edited. I want to save people the headache and expense of what happened to me.”

After a year of writing and self-editing, Lewis had finally completed his manuscript in the spring of 2015. The Message and the Messenger is a training manual for new pastors, and he was anxious to get it published.

“I just wanted to just get it out,” said Lewis. “I worked on it all through the previous year. I was missing deadlines and getting frustrated. People were asking about the book, wanting to put it in bookstores and I just wanted to hurry up and get the books out.”

Lewis had hired a book consulting service to help him self-publish. The company has since gone out of business, but had assured Lewis that his manuscript was ready to go. “They told me I should make sure I read it again, but I didn’t,” recalls Lewis. “I did send it to a friend of mine and he said he read it and it looked pretty good. So now I had two people saying ‘it’s good,’ so I thought we should just go ahead and get it printed.”

Lewis chose BookBaby to publish The Message and the Messenger, and he remembers conversations with our publishing specialists about editing. “They recommended that I have someone else proof and edit the book,” says Lewis, “but I didn’t want to spend any more, or invest the time. I just thought to myself, ‘Nah, I’m not going to do it.’”

And that’s when all the problems started.

“So we get the books printed and I do a press release that goes out in March. After the second day, my sister called me. She said: ‘Have you looked at your book?’ I asked, ‘What do you mean?’ She said, ‘There’s quite a few errors in it.’ She took screen shots of the pages and texted me. And I saw what she was seeing. I was in shock.”

And what about all those beautiful books Lewis had printed? “I had to just throw them away. They were worthless,” says Lewis. “All that money down the drain. Thank goodness only my sister saw the books with all those errors or it would have been even worse.”

BookBaby has been urging our authors to seek out professional editing services for their manuscripts.
“The service I received from BookBaby was just phenomenal,” says Lewis. “I’ve recommended BookBaby to my friends and even some of my students who are thinking of publishing their own books.”

If an author is having problems selling their book and calls us for advice, our publishing specialists go through a check list of possible reasons:

  • Did you do both an eBook and Printed Book for maximum sales opportunities? Check.
  • Did you get a professional cover design? Check.
  • Did you have your book edited by a professional? Ah…

It’s true. Editing – or the lack thereof – can affect your sales in ways you might not realize. I’ll let Dr. Lewis tell his story:

“If a person would have purchased one of those unedited books, they would have stopped reading it in the first chapter because of all those errors,” he said. “People will remember you as the guy who has all those mistakes in his books and won’t ever buy another in the future. Plus they’ll tell everyone else about the author who has all these mistakes in his book.

“If you don’t pay for editing, it’s going to cost you in the long run.”

Determined to do things the right way, Lewis hired First Editing to review his manuscript. First Editing is one of several editing companies BookBaby recommends. [Full disclosure: I had my book edited by First Editing and was extremely satisfied with their services.]

“It was a great experience,” says Lewis. “It only took about seven days for them to get the manuscript back to me. Everybody needs to know this: You can’t just let anyone edit your book. Your friends can’t do it. Your family can’t do it. If you want to put something you’re proud of into the marketplace, you have to have a proofing and editing expert do the job. Whatever the cost is. If you don’t pay it, it’s going to cost you in the long run.”

Dr. Lewis intends to practice what he preaches the next time around. “I’m going to be unbelievably patient. I won’t feel the need to rush it because of what I experienced,” he says. “It’s a process that just can’t be rushed. Authors need to take their time and do it right.”

BookBaby Editing Services

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Steven Spatz is a writer, marketer, and the President of BookBaby, the nation’s leading self publishing services company. Spatz’s professional writing career began at age 13, paid by the word to bang out little league baseball game stories on an ancient manual typewriter for southern Oregon weekly newspapers. His journalism career continued after graduation from the University of Oregon at several daily newspapers in Oregon. When his family took over a direct marketing food business, Spatz redirected his writing and design skills into producing catalogs. The Pinnacle Orchards catalog was named "Best Food Catalog," received dozens of other national awards, and the business grew into one of the nation’s largest gourmet fruit gift businesses. After the company was sold, Spatz continued his direct marketing career with Fortune 500 companies including Mattel and Hasbro. He joined AVL Digital in 2004 to lead the direct-to-consumer marketing teams for music industry-leading brands Disc Makers, Oasis, and CD Baby. After serving as Chief Marketing Officer, Spatz was tapped to lead the company’s new publishing division in late 2014. In 2019, the AVL Digital Management team purchased the New Jersey brands, including BookBaby. The company is headquartered in Pennsauken, NJ (just outside Philadelphia, PA) and meets the printed book and eBook needs of thousands of self-publishing authors around the globe. Spatz lives in Glenside, PA with his two children, a demented cat, and some well-used bicycles. Steven loves to hear from authors, editors, and publishers in the BookBaby community with tales of publishing trials and triumphs. To tell him your story, write to steven@bookbaby.com.


  1. Good advice, but which can be underscored by writers taking the time to read, re-read, re-re-read, re-re-re-read, again and again. That said, I’ve read innumerable novels by best-selling authors, and found numerous errors in several of them.

  2. ” And what about all those beautiful books Lewis had printed? “I had to just throw them away. They were worthless,” ”
    I wouldn’t have throw them away, but used them for promotional purposes. As David Lieberman wrote in Get Anyone to Do Anything, “Be human! … infinitely more approachable and likeable.”
    Must self-proofread?:
    0. I hope that you have some college writing experience
    1. Listen to your work on text-to-speech at least twice
    2. Read sentence-by-sentence backwards (This helps with the context gloss-over effect)
    3. Read aloud into tape recorder or DAW (you’ll want to publish an audio version anyway!)
    4. Don’t print millions of copies on the first run – Maybe a short run “Alpha Edition” if you’re not quite super-confident; This also creates a hot “collectors item!”


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