So, you’ve written your book and you are pretty happy with the outcome. Unfortunately, even if you’ve edited it yourself, you still need a professional editor to take a look at it if you are really serious about your project.
Don’t underestimate the need for an editor, as they are not just there to take care of your grammar, typo and punctuation errors. They are important for so much more.
When you work on a manuscript, you are living deep inside your story, and you are unable to see the problems your story might have. Is the flow correct? Is the storyline consistent? Are the characters developed enough? These are only a few examples. These are the things you might miss, but it is problems that an editor will pick up, because he isn’t yet attached to the project as you are.
However, it is important to know your editor’s experience level. An experienced editor versus a beginner editor might mean the world of difference when it comes to the service your book will receive. Don’t just hand over your manuscript to just anyone—experience can mean night and day between the efficiency and level of professionalism you will receive. Don’t just fall for the cheapest editor either. Most of the time experienced editors are a little bit more expensive, but they offer so much more.
Know what an editor’s good at. All editors are good at proofreading and grammar, but an editor who solely focuses on editing non-fiction might not be right for books of fantasy, for example.
There are also different types of editing on offer, and you need to know what you are paying for. Are they offering proofreading or grammar editing, or developmental and structural editing as well? Do some research and find out the types of editing you need. Like I said, there is more to editing than just proofreading and grammar fixing.
TYPES OF EDITING
- Document formatting: Using a personal computer to create a consistently formatted document from an electronic manuscript according to a style template.
- Copy-editing: Preparing the document for distribution or publication through the following: clarifying meaning, eliminating jargon, polishing language by editing for grammar, usage, spelling, punctuation and other mechanics of style; checking for consistency of mechanics and for internal consistency of facts; inserting head levels and approximate placement of art; editing tables, figures, and lists; ensuring that references in the text are correctly cited in the bibliography; notifying the designer of any unusual production requirements.
- Developmental/ substantive editing: Editing a manuscript for ‘global’ issues – clarifying or re-organising a manuscript for content, structure, style, length and level. This is also where characterisation, plot and pacing are reviewed and changed. This is the horror part of editing where a lot of changes might be made to your manuscript – a lot of text might be cut, moved and re-shaped to make it readable.
- Proofreading: Checking proofs or final formatted, edited material for adherence to design and for minor, mechanical errors in copy (such as spelling mistakes or small deviations from style sheet), using standard proof-correction marks; may include comparing the document with earlier versions to ensure corrections have been made, checking the accuracy of running heads, flagging locations of art and page references, verifying computer codes, and inserting page numbers in table of contents and cross-references.
- Indexing: Producing a systematic guide or key to the contents of a manuscript; includes reading and analysing the work, choosing subjects and concepts, and arranging entries alphabetically or in some other searchable order.
It is important to have a good understanding between you and your editor. Find someone you can establish a good working relationship with and who is willing to go the extra mile to make your manuscript as good as possible.