Choosing a qualified editor is an important choice for any author. It’s important that an editor has a degree in editing or related field and professional experience editing or writing. It’s also critical that an editor is trustworthy to do excellent, thorough work. We have taken that guesswork out of selecting editors for you. We have seen the editorial expertise and experience at work in transforming written content in every editor we select.
Here are a few helpful hints to guide your expectations through the editing process.
- Trust the editorial process. Any author will tell you that a good editor makes their work better. As a result of professional editing, your reader should find a key take away in your message—either inspiration, a relatable story or descriptive action steps, depending on your genre. Your editor will improve your manuscript in clarity, conciseness and consistency in style and voice. An editor will also ensure a logical flow, smooth transitions and compelling beginnings and endings. With proofreading, your manuscript should become as error free as humanly possible in terms of spelling and grammar.
- Embrace questions about your content. An editor acts as an advocate on behalf of your potential reader. If any of the information is unclear, an editor will ask for clarification. Embrace these questions. Perhaps the answers were obvious—to you. Sometimes the answers are stated, but too far away from the text that brought it to mind. Maybe the timing of events is unclear; or maybe you left out a detail that you thought wasn’t necessary for the story. The more readers you have, the more likely it is that some of them might share your editor’s questions. If you feel strongly that the questions aren’t necessary or warranted, talk to a couple other objective people (not family or close friends), and ask for their input
- Know that your manuscript will change, but your key concepts shouldn’t. When you read your edited copy, ask yourself, “Are the central ideas still intact?” If so, ask yourself if you can live with the edited copy. How big of a deal are the changes to you? Perhaps read through the changes with an objective lens and choose those that are the biggest deal to you to push back on. Have a conversation with your editor about any changes that bother you. The reasons for changes generally include grammar, clarity, cadence or style
- If you want to collaborate closely with your editor, ask them to use a “track changes” feature. If certain changes really bother you, ask your editor why the changes are suggested. This approach will cost you more time and money, however, but it may be worth it for some authors. If your goal, however, is producing a larger number of written works and being as efficient as possible, this method isn’t ideal.
- Indicate your style preference. Some editorial decisions are preferences. One of the most debated issues of all time is the serial comma, which means do you use or eliminate a comma before the final and in a series. An example would be: Her outfit is blue, black and white. AP style (newspaper and many online sites eliminate this comma). Other styles, like Chicago Manual of Style, common in more literary works, keep them in. Your editor likely has a preference. The key is to keep your style choices consistent. If you want certain words capitalized for emphasis, that is also a style choice. Make a list of these preferences for your editor at the beginning of the process to avoid unnecessary changes.
- Speak up if you think you see a mistake. Editors do their best to catch errors, but as human beings, they may still overlook mistakes. That’s why most editors and publishers recommend multiple reads throughout the process so that errors are minimized. Read yourself and ask family and friends to look as well. If a typo is found, it is not the end of the world. It can always be corrected on ebooks! And, if you read many professionally published printed books, you have likely seen typos here and there as well. Know that you aren’t alone and typos are part of life.
- Avoid making additions or content changes too late in the process. Try to add all content at the content editing phase to clarify, or near the beginning when your editor asks you content questions. If you add new content at the end of the process, it will not get read as many times, and it is more prone to have errors. At the end of copyediting or at the final printing proof stage is not the time to add new content. Consider a follow up blog, additional e-book or video to get additional information to your audience. That being said, if you feel you must add something, just weigh the risks.
Guest Post by Editor Loral Robben Pepoon