Congratulations! You’ve done it. After months (or years) of hard slog and heartache, you’ve finished writing your book. You’ve got it as good as you can get it.
Now it is time to take to the next level.
If you are self-publishing, the next step is to approach an editor to fine-tune and your manuscript and get it ready to send to the publisher or printer for design and typesetting. There are different types of editors, so make sure you understand which stage your book is at and which type of editor you need to speak to.
Before you speak to an editor, there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure everyone is working to the same brief.
Your editor will, no doubt, have more questions for you, and feel free to tell them more – every bit of information helps an editor get a feel for you and your writing.
If your publisher or printer has given you a deadline, you will need to stick to it. Unless you have an extreme emergency, they may not take kindly to asking for an extension.
You will need to allow time for all the different parts of the process to happen before you send it to the publisher.
Your editor will make many suggestions and changes to your manuscript (usually using Track Changes), and it is up to you to go through each one to make sure you understand what is being suggested and decide if you are happy with it. You may have some queries about the suggestions or need to send the manuscript back to your editor for a second pass, and need to allow time for them to reply.
Depending on what level of editing you require, there may be other people in the process who also need time to go through your manuscript. When you agree on a deadline with your copy-editor, you will need to factor in the time it takes you to review it before it goes to the proofreader and then the printer.
Despite what people sometimes think, editing can take several weeks or months depending on the word count of the manuscript. The time it takes to edit is much longer than it would be if you were reading the same amount of words for pleasure. Therefore, when setting the deadline, keep in mind that the editor needs to have time to complete the edit.
They may also have other projects in their schedule, meaning that there may be a delay before they can start on your manuscript. To ensure your project can be completed on time, contact an editor in good time and book your project in – and then make sure you deliver it to them on time!
You want your finished product to be the best it can be, and editing is an essential part of the process. Bad writing can take away from your professionalism and reader satisfaction – and ultimately your return.
When you are setting your budget, it is important to factor in editing. Editing and proofreading are a specialised service. Professional editors have received specific training in this field and have a wealth of knowledge about language and writing.
Your editor will give you an estimate or quote so that you know what you can expect. There are guidelines set by international editing organisations which indicate the minimum rates for the different types of editing services.
However, let your editor know if you have any budget constraints. They may be able to work with you to provide a service within that. Keep I mind, though, that you may not get the full service.
#3 Form of English
It may seem obvious to you which English you are using, but there are many variations of English spoken in different parts of the word. The differences between the types of English can be subtle or glaringly obvious.
There are differences in spelling, grammar and style between the English-speaking countries which would be noticeable by a native speaker of a particular form of English. Sometimes you may not even realise you have used grammar or spelling from another variation of English and it needs to be made consistent.
Your editor may not be in the same country as you. In the digital age, a British editor may work for an American writer, or a New Zealand editor may work with British writers. Most editors know the differences and are comfortable in editing in different variations of English, but some prefer one over another. It pays to check.
For the same token, you may have written a book in your home country’s variation of English but your target market is another variation. Let your editor know so that they can ensure consistency in the target variation.
#4 Target market
If you are writing a novel for teenagers, you will use a different language style than if you are writing an adult fantasy novel or a children’s book. Sometimes it is obvious what the target market is, but it is important to specify it to your editor. They can advise whether the language you have used is appropriate and will be understood by your target market.
On another level, if you are writing business material, you may be using jargon or terms that a lay person wouldn’t know. If your target market is the general public, then you will need to eliminate all the jargon, but if you are writing for an in-house publication, then your target market will be able to understand the jargon.
#5 House style
Most publishers and many businesses have a house style. This ensures that all written material distributed by that company has the same style and spelling. Check with your business or publisher if there is a house style and let your editor know. Your editor can make sure that your manuscript or document is consistent and within the house style.
Marja Stack is a copy-editor and proofreader based in New Zealand. Her business, Clearlingo Editing and Proofreading, caters to all writers, whether business, non-fiction or fiction. For more information or enquiries please see her website: www.clearlingo.co.nz.
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*NZE: Punctuation inside or outside quotation marks?
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*How to use Tracked Changes in Word
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