Read these 11 Book Editing Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Self Publishing tips and hundreds of other topics.
If you can't hire a professional book editor to edit your self published book, your friends will be able to help with copy editing and constructive criticism. This is not the time for them to gush about how great your book is. Instead, encourage your friends to be ruthless and to make a note of any aspect of your book that does not seem quite right. They should look for misspellings and anything that is unclear and should offer specific advice about such areas as:
Content editing is one of the key skills of a book editor, and it can take a long time to learn how to do it correctly. Content editing consists of reading the whole book to check for sections that are not clear or are badly organized. Book editors will also look for similar consistency in non-fiction manuscripts. They will check to see whether you have presented the contents of your book logically.
Book editors will also assess whether you have given readers the information that you promised throughout the book. They will check to see if the information you have provided is up-to-date and accurate, with names, places and figures stated correctly. Book editors will also check that your self-published book sounds authentic, and that you have a thorough knowledge of the subject of your book. Finally, book editors will check whether your book is written clearly and appropriately for your intended audience.
Plagiarism is the use of someone else's copyrighted work without attribution. When you are writing a book that requires the use of a lot of external research, it is easy to accidentally use someone else's words, particularly if they have captured perfectly what you want to say. To avoid plagiarism, it is best to keep records of all the sources of information you use for your book. If you are writing a non-fiction book, you can use footnotes and endnotes to say where you got the information. If you are writing a fictional book, then you can indicate any sources of note in your acknowledgements. It is also advisable to rewrite useful information in your own words.
One good reason to choose a freelance book editor is that it may cost you less than hiring a editing company. You are also able to control exactly who is editing your book. However, cost is not everything when it comes to editing your self published book. You may prefer to have the security of quality control in the form of multiple edits. This may be available from a company, but may not be available from an individual.
A freelance editor is also less likely to be flexible - after all, there's only one person to do the work. You might also be in trouble if your editor gets ill or has to stop work unexpectedly. Self publishing with a company gives you access to a range of experienced editors who will deliver your edited manuscript on time. You may also be able to benefit from other services offered by the company and save money on the package.
When choosing a book editor, it is important to choose someone who is familiar with the subject you will be self publishing in. Within trade publishing houses, editors have areas of specialization, such as children's or romantic fiction. These editors have a good knowledge of other publications in the field and of how to edit a book to make it right for the publication genre. This is also important when self publishing.
It's worth checking to see what else the editor has done in your genre. You should also get a sample edit to be sure you will be happy with the service you get. It is important not to be swayed by marketing but to get examples of work and customer recommendations.
Make sure that the editor is familiar with the style manual that is right for your genre, such as the Chicago Manual of Style or the Associated Press style. Finally, you should ensure that any quotation for editorial services is based on an assessment of your actual manuscript. Someone who meets all the other criteria and who is prepared to take the trouble to look at it will probably do a decent job of editing it.
Word processing programs such as Microsoft Word and others are helpful when catching the glaring spelling and grammatical mistakes, but are not the best tools to use when editing copy. Although most word processors have a built in spelling and grammar check, these tools may not catch all the errors. Although word processing programs spot many spelling, grammatical and typographical errors, it is essential to review each proposed change carefully. Word processing programs do not spot:
The first thing you need to be able to proofread successfully is a quiet environment where you can concentrate on what you are reading. It is best to avoid interruptions so you can be sure that you don't miss anything. Look out for homonyms, which are often missed by computer spell check programs. Homonyms are words that sound the same but have different spellings, such as 'there' and 'their'. Look out for words that might be easily confused with other words, such as 'no' and 'not'. These will also be missed by spell check programs.
If you want to have the best chance of spotting all the errors on your self published book, read the manuscript several times, looking for different errors (spelling, grammar, formatting) on each reading. Another good technique is to read sentences backwards to force you to focus on every word. Reading out loud can also be a helpful focusing technique - and it will give you a chance to hear how your words sound.
Even if your manuscript is in the hands of a professional book editor, you still need to check the proofs of your self-published book. Once the book has been laid out, there may still be new errors or mistakes that were missed on the previous edit. Proofreading consists of checking the final edited manuscript of your self published book against the proofs that have been laid out ready for printing. As well as checking the proofs yourself, it may be worth investing in the services of a professional proofreader, who will make sure that your finished book has the polish you require.
A professional proofreader will check for consistency between the two versions of your book and will also make sure that the style sheet (if there is one) has been followed. This will ensure that headings and subheadings are in the right fonts and are the right type size and that there are no formatting errors, widows and orphans.
If you decide to proofread yourself, you'll need an eagle eye. Most traditionally published manuscripts are proofread several times before going to print, so it's worth proofreading a few times and getting friends to look for errors you might have missed. Remember that now is not the time to decide on major changes - each time the author makes a change, there is a cost attached. Printing and typesetting errors are what you should focus on.
People who have a story to tell but don't feel confident about writing it themselves can hire a ghostwriter to write it for them. This is often done for celebrity biographies. A ghostwriter can use a number of methods to get the story, including:
- Interviewing the people who are telling the story.
- Getting people to put their story on tape.
- Doing additional research if required.
Ghostwriters will turn this information into a book. They usually supply the book in instalments and will expect to be paid for each segment they deliver. Some ghostwriters also provide help with getting the book self-published or published.
Copy editing is a key skill for professional book editors, who will use their years of training to spot any mistakes in your self-published book. Copy editing covers spelling, grammar and punctuation errors. Book editors will edit sentences so they are neither too long nor too obscure, and will make sure that the right punctuation is used for the right purpose. They will look for grammatical errors and make sure that the style is appropriate to the type of book you plan to self-publish. This means that a learned text will receive different treatment from a personal narrative.
Book editors will also check that you have used certain spelling and abbreviations consistently throughout your book. For example, rather than use the abbreviation 'US' in one chapter and 'USA' in another, the copy editing process will ensure that the same abbreviation is used throughout the book.
No matter what your background, you should never edit your own book. Hiring a book editor is quite important when it comes to any book you write or publish. Book editors come in all flavors. Don't make a hasty decision, however. It's smart to interview potential editors, check their references, and ask for writing samples. Not sure on where to find an editor? Here are some tips:
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|