The professional editorial process is key for any writer but as a self-publisher it is a major part of your business that you cannot afford to do shabbily. It may surprise you to learn that less than one percent of books that come to us for an Interior Layout are free of errors! This week we are going to put on our serious self publishing business hats and talk about why you need at least two editing rounds, by separate editors, in order to produce a professional work that meets market standards.
What types of edits/editors are there?
- The Structure Edit
Like a building, your story needs a strong structure in order for it to not fall over in the storm of the marketplace. Structure deals with the important questions such as does your plot make sense, what are the themes explored within your work, is the Point of View consistent and what is your characterization like. Structural editors look at the overall flow of your story breaking it down to study the actual content. It is a time consuming process which is why the general cost of good Structural Editor can be high. Structural Editors make sure that your storylines are resolved so that you don’t have plot holes. It is important to note that Structural Editors make no physical changes to your manuscript, they will not tell you how to fix the problems that have been found. They have God Vision to point out what’s going wrong and where so that you can go back and fix it before you hand it off to the next stage of editing.
- The Copy and Proof Edit
Copy Editors focus on the mechanics of your writing such as grammar, spelling, formatting so that physical changes can get made. A decent Copy Editor can help to reorganise your story and eliminate the issues pointed out by your Structural Editor. Copy editing will sharpen your prose, refine your style and make sure you’re telling your story in the most cohesive manner. There is some confusion about copy editors and proof readers being the same thing but both have a very separate role to play in manuscript preparation. The main difference is that proof reading is not about revision but correction. Proof readers check your work line by line to make sure that all editorial notes have been completed, all formatting is consistent, that illustrations, graphs, foot notes and page numbers are correct. They look at your work ‘blindly’ to ensure that everything is in its proper order and place as they are the last stop before your work goes to be formatted.
Your Structural Editor and your Copy Editor should be separate people
Why? Because editors are human and they too can make mistakes, things can get over looked easily especially if they are already familiar with the flow of the story. Having a separate Structural and Copy Editor will ensure that what one won’t pick up hopefully the other one will. In traditionally publishing it can take up to 12 months before a writer sees the book in print. This is due to the multiple changing of editing and proof reading hands that it does to ensure the end product reaches that professional standard.
What to do before sending your manuscript to an Editor
- Put your manuscript in a draw for a few months before you edit it. You are more likely to see the bigger problems with story lines, sub plots and characters because they aren’t living in your head anymore.
- Join a writing group or make friends with other helpful writers who can offer valuable feedback. Only take on board the comments that are valid and constructive. They understand the process so they will be able to share their experiences and knowledge.
- Read books about writing. Learn about structure, grammar, characterization. Read your favorite writers and try to pick out the tricks they have used to create the desired affects. The more you learn the more you can pick up where your own work is falling down.
- Print your manuscript, two pages to a single page so that it looks like a paperback layout. All the errors that are hidden on screen will start to pop out.
- Go through your MS backwards, line by line, so that you don’t get involved in the story.
Self Publishers are business owners and you must view your publication as a major project. You are providing a product to a well-established, competitive market and you want to give your product its best chance.
All businesses work on a budget and editing is something that you have to view as an investment to save for. If you have a very small budget try and make friends with editors through your writing group network, maybe barter services with them or ask if they will consider a payment plan but do not DIY your editing. You cannot hope to get it to the standard it needs to be because you’re too close and too biased towards your project. Let the baby go.
A lot of the criticism towards indie writers is focused on the sea of poorly edited work sloshing about the market.
Remember if there are still obvious errors in your manuscript this means it is not ready to be created into a final interior, let alone published.
Ensuring that your work has been edited by at least two separate editors and a proof reader will eliminate mistakes, save you money in the reformatting costs and help cement your reputation as a professional writer and publisher.
Here are some professional editors that I recommend:
What is the best editing advice you have ever received? What are your processes to eliminate errors?