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How to Write and Publish Your Book #3

Posted by Andy McDermott / Director Publicious Pty Ltd on 19 July 2014


Hi all, I did intend to write and post this blog from New York, but what with leisurely bike rides through Central Park, the craziness of Times Square, the odd Broadway show and exploring the city and surrounding boroughs like Brooklyn and Queens, it didn't happen. I thought I might get more time once I hit London, but hey, London in the springtime? What can I say?

I'm safely back in Australia now, so here we go with #3 of our self-publishing made easy series.

The Professional Edit

You may question the need for a professional edit, after all, you’ve read through your manuscript a gazillion times. You've had others read it again and again. You've made changes, corrected errors and typos, re-written and re-written - surely you’ve found and fixed everything?

The answer to that is: probably not. The fact that you know your story so well may mean that when you read through it, your brain transmits what it thinks is on the page and not necessarily what is actually written on the page.

You may have deleted or amended huge chunks of the story, changing scenarios in the course of rewriting that could now leave your future readers without important information or transitions. They can become lost by these confusing missing elements, such as when you tell them that Uncle Benny is actually Aunty Fanny. Oops, that’s right; you deleted the chapter where Uncle Benny had his sex change. This might seem ridiculous, but it can easily happen (not necessarily Uncle Benny’s sex change, rather the omission of back story). The potential for this type of confusion is why I like to take breaks between each draft to get my mind off the book. That way, when I return to it for the next self-edit pass, I’m reading it with fresh eyes.

Traditionally published books, like those you can purchase from good bookstores, are all professionally edited. Unfortunately, most self-published authors fail to pursue a professional edit. Most often, budget and time are the excuses given for overlooking this important step in self-publishing. While the cost of a professional edit can be substantial, depending on the amount of work required, it is a vital investment for which any serious writer should allow.

I’m amazed at the number of authors who don’t think twice about paying for graphic design services to create an eye-catching cover, yet will quickly dismiss editing as an unnecessary expense. The truth is, a well-designed book cover may hook potential readers, but if the reader is subsequently disappointed with the quality of writing in the book they probably won't read past the first few pages. They also won't recommend the book to their friends or their book clubs. Whether their rejection is to not click on 'buy' or to shove your book back onto the shelf, the effect is the same:  your book (and subsequent books) are not purchased, not recommended, and only remembered long enough to give a negative alert to other readers.

With this in mind, consider this question:  if you write and publish another book, will the readers of your first book be likely to come back for seconds?

The professional editing process

Working with a good professional editor not only ensures that your book becomes the best it can be, but it also helps you become a better writer. You will be surprised at how much you learn about writing, and shocked at the things that you’ve overlooked, during a professional edit. This is one of the great side benefits of this type of edit - for every writer who goes through it.

It’s important to understand that it is not the editor’s job to make changes to your manuscript or rewrite your work. A good editor will work closely with you, making suggestions as to how you can tighten and polish your writing style, as well as ways to improve the structure, flow, and characterisation within your manuscript.

Let's explore the steps in and requirements of the professional editing process.

Typically, the following elements of your manuscript will be reviewed during a professional edit:

  • overall structure and story arc
  • character development and continuity
  • sentence structure
  • grammar and punctuation
  • story flow, believability, strengths and weaknesses
  • need for additional conceptual or environmental research 
  • identification of clichés, superlatives, ambiguities, and redundancies

You will also need to follow some industry-standard requirements when you submit your manuscript to an editor:

  • Microsoft Word document (or similar program)
  • A4 (US letter) size
  • double spaced, single-sided
  • 3 cm (1.18 inch) margins all around
  • Times New Roman regular 12 point typeface
  • numbered pages
  • book title and author’s name on each page

Most editors today expect Microsoft Word documents and accept email submissions. The latter is a digital-age boon to authors, saving time and expensive postage, as your manuscript can be sent as an email attachment. Email's global communication capabilities means you could just as easily be working with an editor on the other side of the world as on the other side of town.

Some editors still require a hard copy (paper copy) of your manuscript. If this is the case, print your manuscript and post it to the editor, enclosing a stamped, self-addressed envelope for its prepaid return. Notes and suggestions will be written in the margins, between the lines, and on the reverse of each page. In some cases, you will also receive a written report and telephone support.

Join me next time when I'll be discussing how to choose the right editor for your book, and the final step of the edit process, the proofread.

Until then, write on...

 

Andy McDermott / Director Publicious Pty LtdAuthor: Andy McDermott / Director Publicious Pty Ltd Connect via: Twitter LinkedIn
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