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.
Substantive Editors: Substantive editors work with the manuscript to improve it as a whole, focusing on making the plot, narrative, and dialogue as solid and engaging as possible. They may reword sentences to improve clarity, seal up plot holes, add or remove scenes, and eliminate redundancy. After substantive editing is complete, the next step is copyediting (see below). Substantive (or developmental) editors may or may not include a round of copyediting in their fee, so it’s wise to ask upfront.
Copyeditors: A copyeditor corrects errors in consistency, grammar, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation. They’ll also ensure that headers, numbers, and other items are correct, and they’ll fix problems with logical flow, redundancy, and factual content. Copyeditors reference style guides such as The Chicago Manual of Style as they work (the style guide used will vary based on the genre and publication medium of the work).
Proofreaders: Proofreaders tend to chaff at being referred to as “editors,” but we’ll include them in this post because part of their job is weeding out errors in a manuscript. Proofreaders give your book a final pass after your work has been typeset. They find and correct any errors 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.