As a reader, don’t you find it very disconcerting to start reading a book only to find typos, missing words, homophones, characters’ names changing in the book and other problems that should have been caught prior to publishing? The self-publishing industry has long had a bad reputation for putting out books that have had little or no editing. Yet, editing can be the first thing authors cut out to save time and money and get their book published quicker.
Comments we hear from authors include: “I don’t need editing because…
- my neighbor (son, friend) proofread my book and it doesn’t need any further work.”
- I don’t want to pay any extra money to have it edited. It’s good enough.”
- I have a specific voice in my writing and the editor will take out so much it won’t be in my style anymore.”
- I’m a teacher so I know my book is in good shape.”
There are different types of editing:
- Developmental editors work with you right from the beginning. They help plan the overall structure, develop an outline, and coach authors in their writing on a chapter-by-chapter basis. They don’t do the actual writing but help you with the entire process.
- Substantive editors help you find your voice. They may make suggestions on deleting a character or developing a character further, check your facts for accuracy, and deal with the overall content, structure, and organization of the manuscript.
- Copyeditors check and correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, and consistency and look at word choice and sentence structure to improve readability and/or clarify meaning.
- Proofreaders see the manuscript after the design is completed. They check for placement of photos, captions, and headings and make sure corrections suggested by the copyeditor have been included.
So why do you need editing?
As an author, you are too close to your work to find all the problems. Have you seen some of the brain teasers that have you read words and show how you are missing things? For example, “A bird in the the bush” or “Olny srmat poelpe can raed tihs. I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg.” Naturally you can pick up on these problems quickly, but if you wrote the words, would you be able to find them? (Click here for more brain teasers.)
For an independently published book, authors should have the final say in the changes they want to make. The editor’s corrections are merely suggestions and the author can override these suggestions. For this reason, if an editor uses “track changes” in Microsoft Word you can review the changes and accept or reject them line by line.
Getting a professional’s opinion on what works and doesn’t work in your manuscript will help you in getting a more readable (aka sellable) book. An editor can make recommendations on areas that should be rewritten or point out inconsistencies in the plot.
For book editing, most editors at a minimum should use the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed. Other reference materials may include Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed., Garner’s Modern American Usage, 3rd ed., or Webster’s Guide to English Usage.
Having your book edited can often dramatically raise the quality–and ultimately the marketability–of your work. You may even be surprised yourself at what you missed. An editor provides a crucial service from a separate perspective, which is important for understanding how readers will react. Editing is a vital part of the process of publishing your book and ensuring that it becomes the best book that you can write.
If you need editorial services or have additional questions about the editorial process, please contact Dan Karker at firstname.lastname@example.org.