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Editing basics

large blue checkmark on boxSo you’ve finished writing your book – you think it’s great… perfect… the next best seller and ready to be published and printed… BUT IS IT?

Before you commit to publishing your work, an edit review is critical. You’ve read it over and over but you are probably only seeing what your eyes want to see – not what is actually there.

Start by getting someone else to read your story…

  • Does it make sense to them?
  • What questions do they have?
  • Could they accurately describe your setting, characters, relationships, and summarize your story accurately?

Remember – their feedback – both positive and negative – will help you IMPROVE your book – do not be discouraged – be thankful!

But there are many facets of editing…from structure, style, tone, illustration, positioning to the details of content, copy, references and so on.

We suggest that you focus on three elements:

  • Structure – the fit of each part of the story to create the whole story (content structure)
  • Style – the focus, flow, voice, terminology (smoothing language, reading level)
  • Copy – the words (mechanics)

Things to Consider

Readability is affected by words/language and layout

Not only the words and the way you write, but also the look of the book pages can affect how people will perceive and read the book so it is very important to get your book layout completed by a professional designer.

Editing the mechanics / consistency, grammar, etc.

Review your manuscript again to dot the i’s and cross the t’s…. polish the mechanics. This time you are not reading the story, i.e. the words, you are looking at paragraphing, sentence structure, punctuation, etc. Review spelling carefully (are you using Canadian or US spelling – pick one and be consistent!), usage of caps, etc. in keeping with your style..

A fresh set of eyes

It is always best to have someone else read through your manuscript at this point. They will often see the little inconsistencies that you might not see, after having read through your work a multitude of times at this point.

Re-edit

After making changes, make sure you take sometime away from your manuscript, let it settle for a while. Then, read through it once again…reading and editing…one last polish!

A Word About Professional Editing

When you are submitting for formal publication, it is a good idea to have a professional complete a final edit before submission to publishers for consideration or to avoid costly reprints if self-publishing.They are trained to look at the obvious (spelling, grammar) but have the ability to look for inconsistencies in story flow, factual discrepancies, proper citations etc. They can take a good story and help the author make it a great one!

They are also helpful with:

Punctuation

Let’s face it, some punctuation rules are downright confusing. When it comes to such “rules”, consistency is paramount! Editors often define a set of rules based on such as a specific publishers’ STYLE GUIDE or generally published style guides such as The Canadian Press.

Word use

There are a number of words in the English language that are similar in sound but different in spelling and meaning. If in doubt about proper word use, check a dictionary!

 

Here is a visual reference that highlights some of the areas covered above. Although it is more directed to professional business writing, and based on US editing guidelines, it has universal application regarding the sorts of things a writer needs to look for.

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