Although editing a book is an extremely demanding process, it can be simplified using an exact procedure. Writers are often susceptible to overlooking errors; for this reason, one must make a mental map to review their content. Having a clear mindset, without any predetermined judgement, facilitates the process of editing. As a writer, one must begin by outlining what needs to be edited and in what order. The essence of one’s story structure, plot and characters should not be altered in the book editing process.
Every day a vast number of books are published. For a book to stand at par with the most excellent books ever published, it must be extraordinarily engaging and should appeal to readers. With every edited draft, a story gains more clarity within itself; hence, a writer must expend as much energy in editing a book as she or he does in writing one.
Here are six things you need to know about the book editing process to make your book more engaging.
1) Types of Editing
A manuscript must be subjected to various edits and corrections before it reaches the final draft since there are numerous types of editing involved.
However, the first step is always to set aside your manuscript for a few days after it is complete. Many renowned authors have adopted this approach. Stephen King once claimed that he does not look at his manuscripts for at least six weeks after completing it. This process helps in rearranging your thoughts in a manner that when you finally pick up your manuscript, you approach it as a reader would.
Once you gain an objective outlook toward your manuscript, it is important to expose it to two types of editing, i.e., structural and copy editing. Structural editing involves polishing the spine of the story by improving the plot, conflict and theme of the book. On the other hand, copy editing primarily includes narrowing down on which style guide to use.
As we proceed, you will learn about these editing processes in detail.
– Structural Edit: Structural editing sheds light on developing the concept of the book. It includes analyzing the manuscript to ensure a consistent and fundamental flow in the point of view, tense, plot, subplots, and dialogue. It is at this point that one reassesses the importance of the individual elements in the narrative and takes a call on whether to sustain or remove these elements. In structural editing, the focus is on literary devices such as pacing, character development, plot, writing style, and setting.
– Plot editing: This type of editing sheds light on the intensity of significant plots in the story and their potential to drive the tension throughout the narrative. It is essential not to have scenarios that are too predictable since plots with a surprise element tend to hold the attention of the reader. Every scene must drive the story forward.
– Conflict and theme editing: It highlights the overarching theme of the book and how the conflicts in between chapters of the story build its backbone. The aim here is to ensure that each conflict and the overall theme of the story complement the book as a whole, and contribute to keeping the reader engaged. When hiring a professional, then the author and the Developmental editor must collaborate to shape the manuscript into the final draft. This stage requires a lot of patience as it takes time for the editor to respond to the suggestions and inputs of the writer. Keep the communication clear in terms of the essential elements of the story as it will ensure a consistent setting and timeline of your plot. The structural editing process can be carried out in the initial stage of the publication process, i.e., the drafting stage of a book.
– Copy Edit: Copyediting is carried out once the manuscript is completely organised. It includes a word by word editing of the book and looking over punctuation, capitalisation, spelling, abbreviations, grammar and any other style rules. To carry out the same, it is imperative to select a Style Guide for the language format and guidelines for your book. The three most popular style guides are the Oxford style guide, the Economists style guide and the Chicago manual of style. The Oxford Style Guide is the university style guide and is mostly meant for use and reference for University publications. It is one of the most revered style guides for the usage of UK English. The Economist Style Guide is the language framework used for the British newspaper, the Economists. Even though the style guide was initially supposed to be restricted to Journalism, it has been adopted by various writers as well. This style guide focuses more on interesting content rather than description and narrative. The Chicago Manual of Style is one of the most used style guides for American English. This style guide was published by the University of Chicago Press and is extensively used for fiction and non-fiction publications in the USA and elsewhere.Copy editing essentially involves checking for errors in word usage to ensure the content has the necessary and accurate citations, references, notes, tables, figures and charts.
2) Editing scene by scene
After editing the structure and the language of the book, the next step is to bring your attention to the scene by scene edit of the whole book. Scene-by-scene editing is determined by the flow in which conflict and respite are placed in the story. It includes focusing on transitions between characters, chapters and the story itself. In this stage of editing the most important question one must keep asking is; does each scene move the story forward?
Highlight the three-act structure of your story, i.e., setup, conflict and resolution to ensure that it corresponds with the sequence of events within the story.
All computers have a feature available that enables one to hear out their manuscript. Mac users can go into system preferences to choose a system voice and speaking rate for the selected text. PC users can utilise the Narrator feature available in the system’s Ease of Access Center.
3) Editing of dialogue
This process includes delving into editing the dialogues of your book with an extremely objective approach. When going over the dialogues, it is crucial to question how each dialogue is contributing to not only the story but also the weight of the character saying it. Beware of insignificant and repetitive dialogues that seem to appear normal since they might be a part of our daily speech, however, if in the flow of your story, it doesn’t add much to the scene consider revising it.
More than being a functional tool, dialogues are at the crux of compelling storytelling.
4) Final proofreading before design
Proofreading is carried out only after the raw manuscript has already been edited. It is the last stage of the editorial process before the book is designed and sent to distributors. It involves analysing the final manuscript to check for any additional typographical errors, irregularities in the fonts used, incorrect lines, words, or page spacing.
This step eliminates any issues regarding misnumbered listicles, page headers, footers and page numbers. One must also look for any page break problems like widows and orphans as it helps in avoiding any unwanted word splits at the end of a line. It is highly recommended that proofreading is carried out once again after the book has been designed.
5) Cost & time for editing a book
The editorial process could be extended, depending on the word count, type of editing required, amount of editing. Extending from before the completion of the manuscript through proofreading of the final page proofs.
Structural editing takes the longest since it includes resubmissions and a comprehensive discussion with the editor to get the best results. The overall process could take around 4 to 6 months, and differ as per the word count. Copy editing your book could take 4 to 7 weeks. The proofreading process is a lot quicker, which takes around 2 to 4 weeks. Create a timeline for when you want to publish your book according to the editing process.
Some publishers include editing in the publishing package, which makes the process of editing hassle-free.
6) To Hire or Not Hire a Professional
It is important to identify the need for a professional editor. If one is hugely novel to this process, it is advisable to take help from a professional as they identify technical errors in utmost detail.
To publish a great book, it is vital to have a professional with an unbiased opinion. One must hire an editor who is proficient at making the content crisp, concise and grammatically correct. A professional editor can give expert inputs on the structure, style and syntax and helps in speeding up the process of editing.
Good editors are pivotal in making a book great. To ensure the editors are on the same page as you, select someone who thoroughly understands the process and the essence of your plot. Someone who is not emotionally invested in your book will give great objective advice. This will ensure that you are publishing the best version of your book.