In the past I’ve discussed how important it is to hire an editor to go over your manuscript before you publish, same as a traditional publishing house would do before putting out an author’s book (except that their timeline can take a few years, while as a self-publisher you can feasibly have your book edited and publish-ready in a matter of weeks).
I’ve also discussed the three general “types” of editing, which I’ll mention again here:
1) Developmental (overall content of the book and big picture discussions)
2) Proofreading (fixing grammatical/punctuations errors)
3) Copy editing/line editing
For many, copy editing is the middle-ground, and both an affordable and valuable package to choose with a freelance editor. What can and should you expect if you decide to go this route? Essentially, a good copy editor is going to fulfill these duties with your manuscript:
– Fix/tweak sentence structure. For those writers who feel confident in their overall story content, but perhaps not as much regarding the way it has been conveyed, a copy editor can be a fresh set of eyes to “tweak” areas that need a bit of cleaning up. This may include rewording something to make it easier to understand, eliminating needless words, changing words that have been repeated multiple times, or adding words to convey the author’s meaning more strongly.
– Correct spelling. This includes not only ensuring that words are spelled correctly, but that those words in another language have the correct symbols, and words are properly capitalized or italicized. These rules can change based on style, with the main two for books being AP or Chicago. Make sure that you discuss with your editor which style they normally edit in, or which one you prefer.
– Correct punctuation. This will include using semi-colons/colons when necessary and appropriate, as well as em dashes during dialogue if the sentence would benefit from it. Same goes for commas, quotations, etc.
– Correct spacing/indentation. Unfortunately, a habit that many writers have gotten into (from that dreaded English teacher in high school) is to use the “tab” button when starting new paragraphs. This is not correct—it should be five spaces for every new line of dialogue and at the start of a new paragraph. A copy editor will remedy that for you.
– Provides insight as an editor AND a general reader. While all your friends and family may say that your book is “amazing” and Barnes and Noble-worthy, it’s always important to 1. Get a professional editor to look at your book, and 2. Get outside opinions from readers. An editor can do this, as well as help you understand the importance behind gaining some beta readers.
– Offers suggestions periodically about subject matter. A copy editor may give thoughts or ideas regarding the content of the manuscript, especially if there is a plot hole or some other glaring issue that needs addressing. This should be discussed before you contract with your editor, and it’s important to remember a few things—an editor is a professional, and they have a fresh perspective regarding your manuscript. Something that sounds good or makes sense in your own head doesn’t necessarily translate to the rest of the population. They are giving constructive criticism to make your book the best it can be, so give their suggestions some serious thought. At the end of the day however, it is your book, and your vision—so keep that in mind as well.
Now… get back to writing, so that we at Midnight Publishing can polish your work into the best it can be.
Until next time, keep writing and keep dreaming!