The process of editing a book involves thoroughly reviewing its contents and implementing any required modifications to enhance its quality, readability, and overall impact. The ultimate objective is to produce a refined and superior final product. This task may entail rectifying typographical errors, ensuring proper punctuation and sentence construction, in addition to proposing modifications, and re-organization.
It is common for the majority of self-published authors to engage the services of an editor to some extent. Prior to proceeding with that stage, it is necessary to engage in self-editing of the book. Typically, prior to publication, authors are expected to receive feedback from several readers. However, it is crucial for authors to engage in self-editing as it enables them to eliminate apparent errors and reduce mistakes in their manuscripts. This, in turn, enhances the chances of hired editors and beta readers identifying and correcting errors that may have been overlooked.
It might be quite tempting to engage an editor as soon as you finish a rough draft and submit your manuscript to them, but you must remember that the better the draft you send to the editor, the better the finished result will be.
How to start self-editing
During the self-editing phase, it is recommended to thoroughly review the manuscript a minimum of three times. The practice of conducting verbal read-throughs is referred to by Self-Publishing School. For each, you will be aiming to improve specific facets of your writing.
The three different types of verbal read-throughs in self-editing:
Reading for structure
When commencing the process of reviewing your manuscript, it is advisable to read it chapter by chapter while simultaneously referring to your outline. This will enable you to ensure that all pertinent information is accurately positioned and accounted for.
Each chapter in your outline and book ought to possess a distinct and concise subject matter. Some may view the separate chapters as mini-books inside the larger work. Each component is interrelated with the others, yet it has the ability to function independently. Verifying the organization of chapters constitutes a primary aspect of self-editing.
Verifying the structure of sentences constitutes the second crucial aspect of the initial phase of self-editing. The sequential progression of book ideas is a crucial factor to contemplate during the structure analysis. The utilization of transitional words and phrases such as “next,” “then,” “furthermore,” and “on the other hand” can be advantageous in achieving coherence and cohesion in writing.
The principles utilized in ensuring a well-structured chapter should also be applied to the structure of individual sentences. It is recommended to maintain coherence in writing by fully developing one idea before transitioning to another, whether it be between chapters or within a chapter.
A smooth progression of ideas and effective transitional elements can facilitate a comfortable reading experience for individuals, enabling them to progress through the text in a natural manner. It has the potential of preventing them from abandoning it.
Reading for readability
Upon verifying the organization of your book, conducting an additional reading should guarantee coherence and logical flow at every level, including chapters, paragraphs, sentences, and individual words.
At this stage, it is imperative for authors to identify instances of inelegant expression. The primary rationale behind our recommendation to read one’s manuscript aloud is its significant impact. When spoken aloud, incomprehensible or poorly phrased sentences are more noticeable than when they are read silently.
Reading for grammar and word choice
The initial two stages of manuscript preparation involve the process of revising the manuscript. During this final stage, the authors will engage in both the processes of editing and revising their work. After finalizing the structure and readability of your book, it is advisable to thoroughly review the grammar, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation.
Self-editing is a multi-step process, and grammatical correction should be done last. Otherwise, it will be necessary to repeat this step once the revisions have been finalized.
Finally, the ultimate stage in self-editing involves the expansion of one’s vocabulary in a colloquial manner, while simultaneously avoiding the use of repetitive words.
Once you are done with a comprehensive self-editing phase, your manuscripts are sent to professional editors who perform a multitude of tasks beyond just spell-check.
How Professional editing works
Professional editing involves following a set of steps.
Manuscript review, alternatively referred to as editorial review or critique, involves a brief evaluation of a manuscript by a publisher or editor. This will determine the necessary levels of editing required for your book. It is customary to perform four or five rounds of editing prior to proceeding with typesetting, with the aim of avoiding the need for extensive revisions to the page layouts at a later stage and thereby optimizing time management. Indeed, the utilization of professional editing services is imperative if one desires to generate revenue from literary works.
Content editing, also referred to as structural editing or developmental editing, involves enhancing the story from the reader’s point of view. This process is carried out by the editor. In the context of non-fiction literature, this particular stage of the writing process ensures that the information presented is arranged in a coherent and systematic manner that is appropriate for the intended audience. If you’ve created a beginners’ guide, for instance, the editor will make sure you haven’t omitted any important details for beginners. In the realm of fictional literature, the analysis of plot structure and thematic elements is often accompanied by an examination of character development, dialogue efficacy, and the balance of exposition regarding character histories.
Line editing is a process in which the editor will enhance the quality of your written work. Their goal is to guarantee that the book’s tone remains constant throughout. The manuscript is enhanced in terms of sentence structure and syntax through the use of suggested modifications marked up by them.
The stage of copy-editing is frequently mixed with line editing due to some degree of overlap between the two. It is commonly expected that a professional editor would rectify spelling, grammatical errors, and punctuation mistakes. This is indeed the case, however, it is important to note that this constitutes a distinct phase of the editing process, as it focuses specifically on identifying and addressing any technical issues with the language. The manuscript shall be marked up by the copy-editor to indicate any modifications.
Numerous writers seek the assistance of friends and relatives for reviewing their manuscripts for any mistakes. However, publishing organizations invariably engage a proficient proofreader. Therefore, if one intends to self-publish and desires to be perceived as credible, it is important to adopt a similar approach. From a technical standpoint, it is important to note that proofreading is a distinct phase in the publishing process that should be completed prior to the final typesetting of the manuscript, rather than being considered a component of book editing. At this juncture, rectifications can be easily executed, whereas modifications subsequent to typesetting may pose a potential setback to the publication timeline.
How long is the editing procedure
Before going on to typesetting and proofreading, it depends on how long your document is and how many modifications are needed. The editing process for a book typically involves several stages, each of which may require approximately 14 working days to complete. This timeframe may be extended in certain cases, particularly for works containing between 40,000 and 60,000 words. Additionally, it is important to account for the time required to carefully consider and implement the suggested edits.
A proficient publisher will provide a schedule outlining the expected timeline for response, thereby enabling you to ascertain the requisite promptness of your reply. And if you are going the self-publishing route, be sure to let your publisher know if you have a certain date in mind for the book’s release.