How can editing your book make it world class? Writing a book is more than just coming up with a great story or content for your readers. Once the idea is developed and the first draft has been penned, the real hard work begins. This next phase of book creation includes editing your book and revising the manuscript. This is a big part of creating polished and well-defined content that your readers will enjoy.
For traditionally published authors, publishing houses will typically use their editors to work with, or sometimes without, the author to make changes to the first draft. Self-publishing authors, on the other hand, are responsible for all of the steps necessary to turn their initial rough draft into a great-looking manuscript, ready to be printed. But what does editing your book look like and how can a self-publishing author do it correctly? Let’s take a look at what you need to know for editing your book so it will be ready to send to your printer.
Editing Your Book vs Revising
Many times the terms editing and revising are used interchangeably, and in some ways, they are truly intertwined since it may be difficult to complete one task without the other. But before a writer jumps into the process of improving their drafts, understanding what is meant by each term can help clarify and simplify the process.
- Editing is the term that describes fixing the grammar, spelling, sentence construction, and word choice problems in a piece of writing.
- Revising is the act of making small or significant changes to writing by adding or subtracting content, moving around the order of sentences or sections as well as any changes that materially shift the content already written.
Editing Your Book Content: The First Draft
When editing your book yourself, you need to have more than just a deep understanding of the book’s story or content. Since editing your book involves focusing on the style and correctness of writing, authors who edit their own books should be prepared to follow multiple steps to make sure that their book’s final draft looks just as professional as a book published by a traditional publishing company.
1 Writers need to know what their genre readers want. Ideally, before you even write your book, you should research and read the popular books in your book’s genre. Doing this will give you a good idea of what kind of content readers are responding to, but reading top genre books with an eye to how they are edited can also help you after you have written your first draft. Are there certain types of writing styles common to popular titles? Or is there another common element you see in one or more books that readers love? Consider how the answers can impact your own work when editing your book content.
2 Authors should have a really good grasp of grammar, including punctuation, grammar, and syntax. When editing your book content, authors should be able to easily spot comma errors, run-on sentences, and word choice problems without any help. One excellent resource to use as a grammar guide is Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style, the grammar handbook used by writers.
3 Writers should be comfortable with making big changes. Editing your book means revising the content extensively, so writers have to be prepared to see their story change in ways that they may not have anticipated or initially wanted when they created the story concept.
4 Authors have to be comfortable with removing content that doesn’t move the story forward. An editor must look at the big picture of the book, and sometimes writers find it difficult to cut out scenes, sections, or even characters even when the editor deems it necessary for the overall success of the book.
5 Writers who do their own editing have to look at their book as an editor, not as a writer. Wearing the editor’s hat can be difficult for some writers who aren’t used to critiquing their own writing.
Should You Hire a Pro or Do It Yourself?
Turning a rough first draft of a book into a polished, ready-for-print book is a big job, and not all writers choose to do it themselves. One reason many authors choose to hire a professional editor is that self-published authors may not have all the editing skills needed to do the job well.
After spending countless hours writing their book, the idea of making changes of any size to their manuscript can be overwhelming for many authors, so instead they choose to let a pro do the work. And since traditionally published books will be edited by one or more professional editors, self-published authors often want to have another set of trained eyes on their manuscript so the final copy will look and feel as polished as traditionally published titles.
What Does a Professional Editor Do?
Authors considering enlisting a professional to edit and revise their manuscript can work with a freelance book editor or with a business that specializes in providing professional editing services to authors. Editors can provide four different types of editing services, and writers can choose to use one or more of these services to when editing your book content.
Types of Editing
- Developmental Editing assists the writer in making sure that the story arcs work, thematic elements contribute to the overall story, and the writer fully develops the characters. This early editing support partners with the writer to help the author bring the concept of the story to the page in a complete form.
- Line Editing helps writers look at the way language is used at the sentence and paragraph levels. This type of editing focuses on word choice and syntax.
- Copy Editing happens after initial editing has improved and changed a draft and it includes making sure that the writing is polished but still retains the author’s voice. Copy editors look for tone and style changes, wordiness, clunky writing, poor transitions, and other problems that can keep the draft from feeling polished.
- Proofreading is a specialized type of editing that focuses on the mechanical part of writing. Typically part of the final book edit, proofreading ensures that spelling, capitalization, punctuation, formatting, and page layout are correct before sending the draft to print.
Hiring a Professional
If you want to hire an editor to help you take your draft and turn it into a print-worthy manuscript, these four tips can help you make the most of the process.
1 Decide on the type of editing that will help you the most. Editors are trained to work with drafts in very specific ways, so choose the right kind of editor and editing process for your situation.
2 Let your editor know if they are working with a first draft or a copy that has already been edited and revised.
3 Look at the cost of paying an editor as an investment in your book. Editors may charge for their services per hour, per word, or per page of the book content. Their fees are also determined by the type of editing, the book’s genre, and the number of pages of content. Be sure to clarify the fee structure with the editor before they begin working with your book.
When Your Book is Fully Edited
Editing your book can be a lengthy process, but when your final draft is polished and in its final form, it’s time to partner with a printer who can bring your manuscript to life. Dazzle Printing works with self-published authors every day to transform their manuscripts into gorgeous books, ready to put into the hands of their readers.