The art of editing – Professional editing services part 1 – 4 of 7

Self-editing is the path to the dark side. Self-editing leads to self-delusion, self-delusion leads to missed mistakes, missed mistakes lead to bad reviews. Bad reviews are the tools of the dark side.  – Eric T Benoit

Last week I talked about self-editing your novel as the first step of getting it ready for publication. Despite my choice of quote for this blog, you can and should take responsibility for some of the editing yourself. This week I want to talk to you about the professional editing services available to complete the process when you’ve done as much as you can.

To reiterate from last week, don’t send a totally unchecked manuscript out to a proof reader or an editor; that would be a poor use of their time and your money. Develop a process to take your self-editing as far as you can and then send it out for a professional finish while you move on to the bit only you can do – writing the next book.

As I’ve said in earlier blog posts, if you want your readers to have the best possible experience, professional finishing – development editing, copy editing and proofreading – is a necessity. But what does each of these roles involve?

A developmental editor’s role is to polish your manuscript. First there’s the overall structure of the book. Does it work in its current form or would it be better if scenes were rearranged or deleted, or new scenes were added? Then there’s content. Are all your scenes complete or do you have plot-holes? Do any characters need to be fleshed out? Do you have too much descriptive text? Is the tense and point of view consistent throughout and appropriate for the story?

The roles of copy editor and proof reader are similar but have important differences.

  • Copy editing involves editing for publication, in particular checking punctuation, spelling,      grammatical structure, style, but also for factual accuracy and changes to the copy that would improve flow and consistency.
  • A proof reader reads your copy to detect and mark errors to be corrected, including formatting      errors, and check any changes made by the copy editor have been correctly applied.

Basically, developmental editing looks at the big picture to get a book ready for the copy editor to check the internal workings and get it ready for a publisher or printer, and proof reading makes sure that there aren’t any typographical errors in the final product.

Far too often these roles are confused and so writers are unhappy with the service that they get. Make sure that you understand the differences in what the three roles do and what you can expect to get for your money. There is a reason they charge such different rates.

One last point. When it comes to editing you hold total power of veto. The only time that this may not hold true is if you are working with a publishing house, who will probably expect more control – in self-publishing you are ruler of your work.

Next week I’ll talk some more about professional editing services: what they do and don’t do and how you can decide what you need; guideline prices; and where to find their contact details.

To your book’s success!

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