Thursday, January 11, 2007

Book Editing

For a couple of days now, I’ve been doing a line edit for an author who gave me a call when her agent recommended she get an edit done before the book went out to editors. I’ve done a first read-through and am now going back through it again.

Whenever I read, I take breaks. Partly because I have to do other things, but mostly because I need to rest my eyes. This time, though, I’m breaking because I kept thinking of things I ought to say in this blog about editing.

First off, you should have a book editor or book consultant read through your manuscript before you send it to an agent. The author I’m working with now is a multi-published author who works closely with her agent, so there was no need to have a professional look at it until this point. But if you’re new, have someone edit for you before you approach an agent. You need a new, untainted eye to read your work. You will be surprised what you miss, no matter how many times you read your own work.

If you decide to have someone edit, you’ll have to consider what you want done. A basic line edit is usually the cheapest. The editor looks for grammar, punctuation and spelling primarily. The cost goes higher if you have someone focus on areas like continuity, POV switches, characterization, pacing, etc. With the second level, you’re looking for a book consultant to work with.

Another thing to remember when you decide to approach an editor or consultant is that the editor might want a hard copy of the manuscript, although some can work strictly with an electronic copy, and some want both. If you assume they’ll want an electronic copy, then you can be prepared to send that. That means one file. If you write each chapter as a separate file, when you decide to work with an editor, you’ll have to create a master copy, so you might as well do that from the beginning. It’ll make your life easier as you write. On a master copy, when you make your own edits, the page numbers automatically adjust. When you want to search for something, you can do a search and find on the one document, rather than on twenty separate chapter documents. So by creating a master document from the very beginning, you’re ahead of the game if you decide to get outside editing done.

Before you have a professional look at your book, have a friend or two look at it. Hopefully, they’ll catch spellings and punctuation mistakes you missed. This will save your editor time and you money.

There’s a lot you, your friends, and your critique group can do to perfect your manuscript before you submit it. So exhaust all of those avenues before (or if) you decide to hire an editor.

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