It’s a major achievement to write a book. I certainly couldn’t do it. But sometimes an author is just too close to the material to be objective. After many rewrites and even more readings, your brain “fills in the blanks” and sees what it expects to see.
You may know what you mean to say, but the text may be less clear to someone reading it for the first time. The fresh eyes of an editor can be a real benefit.
Hiring an experienced editor, rather than a friend or relative who happens to be an English teacher, is very important. A good editor does much more than fix your grammar; he or she improves a book’s content and structure in a way that preserves the author’s style. Just as important, he or she finds and corrects both major and minor errors.
For example, our editor once found a mistake in a cookbook—a collection of easy supper recipes using pre-cooked rotisserie chickens from the grocery store. At the front of the book, the author provided a warning that these recipes were to be made only with cooked chicken, never with uncooked chicken.
All well and good.
But our editor noticed that within each recipe itself, the list of ingredients simply said “chicken.” Of course, the author knew what she meant, but in real life, people flip through a cookbook and don’t always read the first pages. This one little correction, changing “chicken” to “cooked chicken,” probably prevented a lot of bellyaches (or worse).
Having your book edited is money well spent. An editor won’t rob you of your style; he or she will enhance your style. Here are some tips to help you find and work with an editor for your book:
Do your research. Many freelance editors have their own Web sites, in which they outline their credentials, philosophy of editing, and rates. Look for reviews in Google, and also refer to the list of vetted services by the Alliance of Independent Authors.
Find an editor who has worked on books similar to yours. For example, an editor whose expertise is in children’s books is probably not the best person to edit your historical novel or economics textbook.
Ask for an editorial evaluation. At 1106 Design, a complimentary editorial evaluation is included when you purchase copyediting or substantive editing. An editorial evaluation is an opportunity to receive preliminary feedback on your manuscript from a professional editor, make changes before the actual editing begins, and save some time and money. An editor will review the first 75 pages of your manuscript and comment on the quality of the research, writing, overall clarity, and potential level of market interest. Then we’ll summarize the services needed to improve the manuscript and/or the book’s eventual marketability.
Create an editorial stylesheet. A stylesheet in editing helps ensure consistency in your manuscript. Your editorial stylesheet should include unique spellings (e.g., colloquialisms unique to your local or culture), place names, character names, your desired format for numbers, etc. Develop and maintain your stylesheet as you write your book. Share it with your editor, who may have some feedback. Make sure any changes the editor makes are reflected in your stylesheet.
After a thorough edit by a professional, your book will stand up to the tough scrutiny of distributors, reviewers, retailers, and libraries.
What do you want to know? What topics should we explore together? How can we help you along your publishing journey? Everyone here at 1106 Design wants to help. Contact us with your questions or for a quote for editing and other publishing services.
Michele DeFilippo, owner, 1106 Design