You have written a book but what happens next? Should you hire an editor or a proofreader and can they be the same person? Or can you just edit the book yourself? If you are self-publishing, it can be a minefield if you don’t have much money to spend.
I talked to Amy Scott, founder of Scott Editorial and asked her why editing was so important. Here are some of the benefits:-
1. YOU GET A FRESH PERSPECTIVE
Amy Scott says “the majority of writers can see their story play out like a film in their head before they have put a word to the page. The role of the editor is to make sure that the reader sees it as the writer does. Because the story is so clear in the writer’s mind, it is easy for them to miss important descriptions, or how a character knows certain things. This does not only apply to the imagery, but also to the words themselves. The writer is so familiar with the text and what it should say, that as they read through, if a word is missing, their mind automatically fills in the word, without pointing out that there is an error.
2. AN EDITOR HAS A SET OF PROFESSIONAL EYES
The editor is essentially your first reader, but also a professional who can guide you through the rules of writing. Pointing out tips and tricks that have been used so well in published books which the writer has read, that they didn’t realise were there.
(Article Written for Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading)
Anna says “As a freelance arts and culture writer, I think I am generally pretty good with words. But I also have to be professional. I always hit my word count, I submit my work to the agreed deadline and, importantly, I am open to feedback. Most of the time, anyway.
My experience of the editing process was a positive one. It felt like a constructive working relationship built on respect, with a balance of acceptance and compromise to reach a shared goal. We both had the same thing in mind – for me to produce the best book I possibly could.
It was about respecting each other’s knowledge. I was the subject matter expert on the topic, but my editor was the expert on how to present that idea for publication. Any spelling, punctuation, formatting or grammar changes she made were a given for me. I knew my editor would be bang on with that stuff, and I accepted those changes largely unchallenged. Anything more substantial was raised with questions or suggestions. I didn’t always accept those ideas but did explore them within the context they were given to me.
It was a long process. We navigated the journey from a rather long Word document to typeset PDF, with considered discussions over how best to present the appendices, the bibliography and filmography. The index was a pain, and I realised along the way that my grasp of the alphabet was not as hot as I had previously thought.”
3. HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU PAY?
It depends greatly on the service you want. Freelance editors generally charge on a word count basis and their rates depend on what service you want. The Chartered Institute suggest the following approximate hourly rates charged by editorial professionals with training in the core skills and some experience. Some people charge more than these rates, and some charge less.
Ultimately price is a business negotiation between the parties. Each job is different and the price is influenced by various factors, such as what needs to be done with the text, how quickly, the subject, format and publishing sector, and how experienced the editor is.
4. WHAT QUALITIES SHOULD YOU LOOK FOR IN AN EDITOR?
* Friendly and helpful
* Works in a highly focused way and identifies small details
* Provides a good quality service
* Meets deadlines
* Concentrates on the positives, rather than the negative
Most freelance editors or editing companies will provide a sample edit of about 100-2000 words to assess the manuscript. Check out the profiles of suitable editors or choose one with the best experience in your genre and send out some samples of your manuscript.
Compare prices. Are you happy with their level of professionalism? Did they respond quickly to your emails? Once you decide on an editor, ask for a written agreement of what service you require. Are there any additional costs? What is their complaints/feedback policy? When will the work be complete? Be clear!
5. WHAT TYPE OF EDITING DO YOU NEED?
1. Developmental Editing
Looks at the content structure and presentation of the manuscript or it could occur after the first draft has been written, when a publisher may ask an editor to make substantial changes, including restructuring or rewriting part of the text.
Do you need this? Not if you are happy with your manuscript
2. Structural Editing
This also looks at the overall structure and content of the book but here the editor makes the changes for you. A structural edit considers all your objectives as an author such as your readers, how you want to promote your book and what you want the book to achieve. The editor will restructure your book to fit your vision
3. Line Editing & Copy Editing
Line editing, sometimes called stylistic editing ensures that your sentences are as effective as they can be. An editor should be mindful of the writer’s individual style. A copy editor ensures that the language follows the rules of standard English and adheres to the publishing house style guideline.
This is the final step and will identify any typos, spelling, missing punctuation issues, and contextual inconsistencies.
“Editing is like killing your book and then bringing it back to life very slowly!” HAPPY EDITING