The Different Stages in the Editing Process
Understanding the different stages of the editing process is crucial.
Does your story make sense?
Do you use their when it should be there?
Those are a couple of the minor mistakes editors can catch. It could make the difference between a professional looking novel and an unprofessional one.
Making sure your novel is properly edited is my number one tip to any author. New or experienced. Even if you feel you’re great with spelling and grammar, please don’t edit your own work. Save your money and don’t release your book until you can afford to have it edited professionally.
I happen to be atrocious at spelling and grammar. Without the help of several amazing editors, I wouldn’t be a successful author.
And yes I said several.
Even if you are amazing at all that is grammar, it’s a normal human trait to miss inconsistencies and/or errors in your own work. Since you’re the one who made the mistake to begin with you might not even notice that mistake the 500 times you read through your manuscript.
There are several different types of editing, and it depends on the stage your novel is into what you need. The 3 basic editing categories are developmental (substantive) editing, copy editing, and proofreading.
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When you want someone to read your book and provide feedback on structure and content. To review the tone, voice, and make sure you are reaching the audience your book is intended for. You want a developmental editor. Also known as a substantive editor. This would be the first step in your editing process. In this round of editing the editor won’t pay much attention to the grammar/spelling aspects but works to give you feedback on the story structure.
Once you feel your story is solid, you want to have a copy edit completed. This round of editing will find all the grammar and style problems. The copy editor will look for repetitive words, misused words, inconsistencies, tense or point of view changes to name a few. All errors that can happen when writing thousands of words.
While I wouldn’t recommend you copy edit your own book, I will say that reading it out loud might help you catch many mistakes. It could reduce the amount of money you have to pay for a copy edit. If they charge by the hour. Many charge by the word so it wouldn’t matter cost wise. Though it’s much better if you polish your novel as much as you can before sending it off for editing.
Proofreading is the final stage of the editing process. Also, the least expensive because presumably, you’ve already caught most of the major mistakes by now. The final proofread is to give one last set of eyes to your words before hitting publish.
I have 2 different editors who copy edit and proofread my books. They both do both functions in their editing business but I feel 2 different sets of editing eyes will give me the best chance of catching all the errors.
You might be wondering if all 3 rounds of edits are necessary before publishing your novel. My answer is yes. Although, not all authors would agree with me. And maybe for you, you don’t need all 3.
I know from years of experience that when I’m working on something I’m too “in it” and it can be easy for me to miss my own mistakes. Whether at a higher plot/story level or the nitty-gritty grammar mistakes. So I work with a team of editors to make sure the books I release are as good as they can be.
Notice I didn’t say perfect because perfect is elusive. But I take the time and money to ensure they are as close to perfect as possible. And please know even with several rounds of editing there is always a mistake a reader finds. But the beauty of being my own publisher is I can quickly make that change and re-upload the manuscript.
As with any level of editing you need to be able to take in feedback and not get upset or offended at what the editor tells you. The editor is sharing their professional opinion based on years of experience to help you make your story the best it can be. When you’ve worked hard on your novel and it’s your baby, it can be hard to accept that there are areas that can be better. It hurts to be told your baby is ugly.
Think of an editors feedback as a gift so you can improve your craft and not make the same mistakes twice. You’re paying for editing so make the most out of it. Use it to make your book great and to make you a better writer.
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