Self-publishing: The Editing Stage

Lesson One for Self-publishing: your book is not finished after you have written it.

Writing your book was the hardest part, but your manuscript is far from done. The second stage in getting your book published is having it professionally edited. This stage is necessary regardless of how great a writer you are. But, I’ve already talked about why even good writers need editors here.


What editing is not

Editing is not you reading over your book searching for errors. Yes, you should do this and need to, but it is not enough.

Editing is not having a friend (unless (s)he is a professional editor) read over your book to ensure it looks okay and reads well.

Editing is not using Grammarly, or another similar system, to correct mistakes.

What editing is

There are three major types of editing:

  • Developmental editing: This is normally the first stage of editing. It consists of checking your flow, plot, character development, and ensuring your book progresses in a coherent manner from start to finish.
  • Line editing (manuscript/copyediting): This requires attention to each word, eliminating wordiness and repetition, punctuation, sentence structure, spelling, and so forth.
  • Proofreading:  This is the final stage of editing. Proofreading consists of looking for typos, spelling, and simple mistakes. At this stage, the book is practically finished and the editor “polishes it up.”

Beginning the business of publishing

In a previous article I said authors are not only writers, but business people. Once you find an editor, you’ll most likely sign some form of contract (or at least you should) stating what the editor is providing and at what cost.

Ask the editors you speak to questions: what type of genre(s) do you edit? What style book do you use? Do you charge per page, per word, or by the hour?

Request a sample edit before hiring an editor. Most will edit the first five to ten pages of your manuscript. Some charge for this service and others may not. A sample edit is important because it allows you and the editor to see if you two are a good fit for your writing, and permits the editor to see how in-depth an edit your book will demand.

I always recommend a sample edit too because it permits you to see their mannerisms and how she works as a professional. If the editor’s responses are delayed, works unprofessionally and the suggestions given are demeaning or too harsh, this may be an indication to find someone else.

The editing phase can be humbling. An editor is not attached to your book in the way you are. She may suggest omitting a sentence you find yourself “married to,” or make comments you are not ready to hear. You want someone who will not withhold correction, yet encourages you too.

Please trust your editor

As an editor, I can say please know we only want to help you. If a part of your book is confusing to us it will probably be to your readers also. Try looking at our corrections from a reader’s point-of-view, or ask someone close to you what they think if you’re battling keeping an editor’s suggestion.

Your editor is not emotionally attached to your book and has not spent as much time with the manuscript as you have. Seeing a book with fresh eyes helps to fix “rough patches,” those sentences that do not add to your story, but instead subtract from it.

Are you finished yet?

Deadlines are important in any project. Inform the editor you are considering working with of when you’d like your book to be published. Give them a deadline and find out how long it will take them to edit your manuscript in its entirety.

Oh, and coming from this editor, if you give us a deadline and we agree to it please work with us in achieving it. If an editor returns your manuscript with corrections in a timely manner, please return the corrections made in good timing also. Most editors have several books they are working on at a time. Delaying the second pass (when you return your edits to them), can alter your intended deadline.

Remember, an editor is your partner in polishing your book. Partners work together and the more you work with us, the better we can work for you.

Any questions for the editing process? Leave them in a comment below. Looking for an editor? Contact me and let’s see if we’re a good fit for each other.


Suggested Reading:

How to Prepare You (and Your Book) to be Edited

Why Even Good Writers Need Editors