After months, or even years, of perfecting your manuscript, it became really familiar to you. When you opened the document to work on a scene or to play with a few sentences, you knew what you expected to see.
Then you sent your manuscript to an editor, and it has just landed back in your inbox.
What should you expect when you open it?
When you finally get the courage to open it, the first thing that will glare out at you from the screen is a lot of red (or another pretty colour) and lots of comment balloons or marks.
Before you start to read, take a deep breath and expect to be surprised, hurt or angry – sometimes all of them in that order, as your perfect manuscript doesn’t look so perfect anymore.
But once you get past that and start reading through the changes and comments, you will realise that your editor has your best interests at heart and wants to help you make your book the best it can be. Not one best-selling author has not gone through a rigorous editing process to get their book published, and their first draft would have looked very different to the finished product.
What will it look like?
Your Word document will most likely have been edited using Word’s Track Changes and Comments feature, so, depending on your settings, you will have changes shown in balloons in the margin or in line within the text. Also expect to see queries in comment balloons in the margin or comment marks in line with the text. I usually provide instructions to my clients on how to deal with these if they have not used Track Changes before.
What to do
Make yourself a cup of tea and slowly and systematically go through all the changes and comments, making changes where necessary, and accepting or rejecting the suggestions. You will need to go through and address the questions from your editor regarding clarity, confusion, etc. And you may have been recommended to rewrite sections or to move a section to a different part of the book. If your editor has locked the document, then you can’t accept or reject the changes, but you can make changes.
Once you have gone through all of the changes, read through the entire manuscript again to catch anything that you may have inadvertently changed or any typos you may have made.
What if you disagree with the editor?
You may find you disagree with the editor on some points. This may be for several reasons.
Your editor will be happy to answer any questions about the changes they suggested and explain why they made the change.
In the end, the editing process is the advice of a professional with experience and qualifications to back them, but it is your book and up to you to decide to keep or reject the changes.
Once you have finished your revision, you should have your editor check it again to catch anything you may have missed. Once you have completed all the stages of the editing and revision process, only then is it ready to be sent to the designer.
Marja Stack is a copy-editor and proofreader based in New Zealand. Her business, Clearlingo Editing and Proofreading, caters to all writers, whether business, or non-fiction or fiction books. For more information or enquiries, please see her website: www.clearlingo.co.nz.
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