Many first-time authors become a little nervous at the thought of somebody editing their book, but there is absolutely no need. The editor is on your side, and is just as keen to publish a good book as you are. It’s not like at school where your work is being graded! A good editor will be very involved with both you and your book, and will be just as enthusiastic about it as you are. Far from just ‘correcting’ your work, an editor will improve it in many ways small and large, while working with you to ensure you are producing the book that you want.

Your editor will fix up spelling mistakes, inconsistencies, incorrect grammar and other errors, but a good editor will do much more than this. A good editor will:

▪   suggest additions where more information is required

▪   suggest deletions where you’ve included something unnecessary or repeated something

▪   alert you to any possible copyright concerns

▪   discuss with you changes that will improve your writing.

Because you’re self-publishing, you have the final say in what goes in your book, but you would be well advised to take the advice of your editor in most instances.

There are four different stages of editing, though not every book will need every one. The stages are:

▪   manuscript assessment

▪   developmental editing

▪   copyediting

▪   proofreading.

Copyediting and proofreading are essential for every book, but not every project requires a manuscript assessment or developmental editing. After having a look at your manuscript, your editor will be able to advise you on what it requires.

A manuscript assessment is when an editor reviews your book and advises you on what improvements can be made. The editor will not usually make any changes to the text, but will instead provide feedback in the form of a written report, which can be anywhere from two to ten pages, or more. Some editors will also make notes in the manuscript, suggesting changes.

The editing process proper begins with a macro view of the content of your book, called a developmental edit (or sometimes a structural edit). This is where the editor reads your book and provides feedback on the content and overall structure.

A developmental edit is usually done in Microsoft Word, although it can be done on hard copy as well. Your editor will read your book and provide feedback such as the following:

▪   highlighting where your book may benefit from additional information

▪   pointing out any repetition

▪   suggesting re-ordering, addition or removal of chapters

▪   suggesting any significant areas of text that could be removed.

This is where your editor will start to focus on the text in a bit more detail. By this stage you should have the basic content and structure sorted out, either after a manuscript assessment, developmental edit or simply because your manuscript was in good shape to begin with. At this stage you will usually go through a couple of rounds with your editor to get everything right.

Proofreading is the final step in the editing of your book. It’s the final check for errors by a person who has not previously read the book. This provides a fresh set of eyes, which is essential because at this point you, your editor and your designer will have been working on the book for many weeks – or months – and will therefore be less likely to spot any problems.

A good edit of your book can make the world of difference, and most authors recognise the importance of their editor in making their book the best it can be.