In our last post, we discussed the different methods of drafting a book. Writing a book is just the first leg of an author’s journey. After that, many authors think it’s time to publish, but, in fact, it’s time to polish the manuscript. The editing process is an integral part of preparing your manuscript for publication. Publishing a book without polishing it first is one of the biggest mistakes self-published authors make. Offering anything less than a professional, polished product makes any author look sloppy, inexperienced, and unprofessional.
Sending your work to an experienced, eagle-eyed editor will cost money, but it’s a wise investment. First, however, you should let your work sit for a while and then read it over with fresh eyes. Aside from the inevitable typos, you’ll likely find plot holes, inconsistencies, and weak phrasing. You may even be hit with new inspiration and wish to make extensive changes to your manuscript. If you were to hire a professional editor beforehand, you would have to have them look your manuscript over again, costing you more money and time.
Once you revise your work, it’s time to use a professional editing service. Having another set of eyes look over your book is necessary because it’s too easy to overlook mistakes. Ultimately, you know what you meant to type, and our brains often autocorrect our work. An experienced editor will find anything you missed, and any mistakes your revisions introduced into your manuscript. Going through editors, you may come across terms such as “developmental editor,” “substantive editor,” “copyeditor,” and “proofreader.” To help you better understand these terms, we’ll briefly explain them. Keep in mind that different sources have their own definitions of editing services, and some use various terms interchangeably.
Developmental Edit: This is the first level of editing. A developmental editor looks at the manuscript as a whole and suggests ways to improve it. This may include adding or removing paragraphs and sealing up plot holes. Developmental editing should help you strengthen the individual elements of your story, such as plot, world-building, structure, tone, and setting.
Substantive Edit: This stage of editing basically helps clean up the manuscript after the heavy edits of the developmental stage. This stage is typically more fine-tuned than the first stage. It focuses on plot consistency, sentence length, logical flow, word choice, and dialogue. A substantive editor may reword sentences to improve clarity and eliminate redundancy.
Copyedit: A copyeditor will correct errors in grammar, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation. They’ll also ensure that headers, numbers, and other items are presented consistently throughout the story. Copyeditors reference style guides such as The Chicago Manual of Style as they work.
Proofreading: This is the final stage of editing. Complete it after your work has been typeset. A proofreader’s job, as their name implies, is to correct any errors and inconsistencies in the final proof, primarily errors in spelling and punctuation, as well as typesetting issues such as tight and loose lines, proper page alignment, and formatting inconsistencies.
You’re probably wondering if you can skip any of these stages. To ensure topmost quality, you shouldn’t skip stages. Each stage is just as important as the next if you want to bring your manuscript up to traditional publishing standards, and it’s best to follow the order shown above. At 1106 Design, we offer an extensive suite of editing services. If you’re ready to polish your book and give it the best shot at success, feel free to reach out to us and let us know what services you’re interested in.