Editing A Book
Whether you are a publisher or a reader, you often determine in the first two pages, whether you will continue to read a book.
If you as author don’t want readers to put your book down unread, you need to consider editing. You are so close to the project it is nearly impossible to objectively see an issue because you know the material so well. You may need to reorganize your book or condense the wording for clarity or find a better way to make the reading compelling. Perhaps you’ve had the experience of seeing something you published with content that wasn’t what you intended. A second set of eyes can see problems you can’t.
Editing is commonly understood as simple correction of grammar and typos. That unfortunate concept is similar to thinking a home is just a roof and four walls. There are many kinds of editing to aid in writing a book of publishable quality. And editors love to help you make your book the best it can be. Editors are essential to carry out the vision of the author.
Why Your Book Needs Editing
Writing a book is a lengthy process, and harder than most other types of writing. You as an author want to capture the reader’s interest and keep the pages turning. Editors help you achieve that goal by addressing problems.
Poorly edited books are both harder to read and to receive. They’re also less likely to be reviewed. Sadly, bad reviews that revolve around poor editing could be avoided. Remember, the end goal is to provide the reader with material to help them. At Authors Who Serve, we want your book to be the best it can be.
Every skilled writer knows a different set of eyes is required to catch problems that interfere with a reader’s grasp of the material. A good editor knows her job is not to impose her style on your work but to hone and polish your manuscript to publishable quality.
How Does Editing Work
Different stages of writing call for different kinds of editing. Below are descriptions of three editing categories which you may find called by other names but in similar groupings.
If you have not started your manuscript or are early in the process, book coaching should alleviate the need for developmental editing. If your manuscript is complete, you may still need developmental editing. If your self-editing was successful, line or copy editing, depending on your skills and other assistance you’ve had, could be all you need.
Proofreading comes only after copy editing.
- Correction of spelling, grammar, punctuation, and syntax
- Checking for consistency in spelling, numerals, capitalization
- Correction of hyphens, en-dashes, em-dashes and ellipses
- Checking for correct sequencing in lists and displays
- Recording first references to tables and figures
- Checking conformity to style guide.
- All copy editing tasks above
- Flagging inappropriate figures of speech and incorrect or ambiguous statements
- Correction of headings and text for inconsistent structure
- Correction of inconsistent key terms, vocabulary lists, and index terms per the publisher style guide
- Review of previews, summaries, and end-of-chapter questions for reflection of content
- Enforcing consistent style and tone in a multi-author manuscript
- Changing passive voice to active voice
- In fiction manuscripts, tracking continuity in plot, character traits, and setting
- In fiction, dialogue layout and discrepancies
- Retaining the author’s voice and meaning.
- Calling attention to line editing as described above
- Sharpening content into a focused thesis (eliminating distracting secondary themes)
- Restructuring to improve transitions and enhance readability
- Identifying areas that need reduction or expansion
- Generating a comprehensive overview of manuscript areas that need attention
- Offering guidance in creating the perfect title
- Eliminating wordiness, triteness, and inappropriate jargon
- Providing examples of rewriting, where needed.
How To Hire An Editor
You can save on the cost by first self-editing, then selecting professional help. Below are some resources for help with self-editing.
We at Authors Who Serve encourage you, before hiring us, to self-edit multiple times and enlist help from those you know who are both skilled and forthright. Even after doing that, you may still need multiple rounds of editing. We prefer to transition from developmental or line editing in a first round to (hopefully) copy editing in a second or third round. Because of catching errors and improving the content, later rounds of editing typically cost less.
A complimentary sample edit is the norm to help each party determine if the fit is good. At Authors Who Serve, we want you as a writer to grow and will offer both encouragement on what works and instruction for what doesn’t. When we return a sample edit to you, we believe you’ll find this to be true. If the fit isn’t good, we’d love to know how we could better serve but we’ll also refer you to another who may be a better fit for you.
Choose well. Check your potential editor’s track record and testimonials. Ask questions. Request a zoom or phone call.
The process will look something like this.
You and the editor will have a discovery call to discuss your book project. This will be a time when each is evaluating working with the other. Following this, you will submit material for a sample edit for each of you to be sure of the fit.
If you’re not familiar with the Track Changes feature of MS Word, tutorials are available online. You’ll need competency with this feature.
Once the sample edit has been approved, you will be asked to sign a contract. Be sure to consider the following:
- Price and payment terms. The amount you will pay and when payments are due should be clearly stated. This defines the scope of the project and the price. Payment is nearly always made in installments, with a deposit or part of the cost up front.
- The scope of the work is often tied to word count. Your editor will provide a completion date based on the scope and type of editing.
After both sign the contract, the editor begins work. You should see the completely edited manuscript by the project end date stated in the contract.
You may already know you need editing or perhaps you’re not sure. Either way, please contact us.