Before publishing your book, it is imperative that it is edited and proofread. It is a very rare book that can be successfully published without first being edited and proof read by someone other than the author.
There are various different levels of editing.
Structural editing checks the content, the structure, the flow, the style, clarity, consistency, the plot etc. Is the book easy to understand and use? Does it make sense? Is the language used accessible to the target market? Does it achieve its stated purpose? Are there any resources lacking — such as an index, a glossary or maps? On occasions, structural editing may involve some substantial re-writing.
Copy editing checks the accuracy and consistency of the book, as well as the use of language, spelling, punctuation, sentence construction, vocabulary, tense etc. The focus is on removing mistakes, errors and inconsistencies from the book.
Proof reading is a last read through to make sure the book is ready for publication.
Another way of identifying the various levels of editing is manuscript assessment, developmental editing, line editing, copy editing and proofreading.
If you are hoping to eventually have your book accepted by a mainline publisher, then professional editing is a given. Publishing houses employ their own editors, and their services are part of the deal you will make with the publishing house. An independent editor is employed by the author, and the extent of the editor’s services will be determined between the editor and the author. Independent editing can be very expensive, and if you are not planning on a big print-run, then use a writer’s group, a friend who is not afraid to tell the truth, a published writer you are acquainted with, or similar.
The level of editing you need will depend on such things as the print run — you don’t want thousands of copies with obvious and embarrassing mistakes in circulation; the target market — is the book for family and friends — if so, perhaps it doesn’t need to be edited to the standard of a PhD thesis. If you have editing concerns, you could ask us for advice.
Don’t avoid the responsibility to self edit your work. We provide a number of basic hints below to help. One article to which we provide a link below says: “Self-editing is an essential part of the writer’s craft; if you’re really serious about a writing career, it’s something you need to master. In fact, investing in a writing course, or joining a critique group, may be a much better initial investment for a new writer than springing for an editor.”
All self-publishers can take steps to reduce the amount of editing required, and therefore save money, by adhering to various publishing conventions. We list a number of these below.
We suggest you purchase and use the following two most useful additions to the library of anyone charged with responsibility of writing material for others to read.
The first is the Commonwealth Style Manual, 6th edition, published by John Wiley, Paperback, ISBN 0 7016 3648 3, $44.95.
The second is The Design Manual by David Whitbread, published by UNSW Press, Paperback, ISBN 0 86840 658 9, $49.95.
Here is a short list of various publishing conventions all self-publishers should adhere to.
Understand and use the normal layout and page numbering conventions for books
Most books and some booklets will have preliminary matter, which might include some or all of the following. The order laid out below is the correct order.
Title Page (right hand page)
Reverse of title page (copyright etc.)
Foreword (start on next right hand page)
Contents (start on next right hand page)
List of illustrations and tables (can follow on from Contents or start on the next right hand page)
Preface (start on next right hand page)
Acknowledgements (start on next right hand page)
Introduction (start on next right hand page)
Text (start on next right hand page after Introduction)
Appendixes (start on first right hand page after text)
Reference list, endnotes or bibliography (start on first right hand page after Appendixes)
Index (start of first right hand page after references etc.)
Page numbering should start on the Title Page and should be page one in Roman numerals (i). However the page number IS NOT SHOWN.
The page number for the reverse of the title page (ii) is also NOT SHOWN.
Page three (iii) the Foreword is the first page that is shown.
Roman numerals should be used all the way up to the Introduction, and are shown on all printed pages beginning at the Foreword, but NOT on blank pages
Numbering restarts at 1 (normal Arabic numerals) for the first page of the text and continues on for the rest of the book. Numbers should not be shown on blank pages and are sometimes not shown for the first page of a new chapter.
Numbering should be on the outside of the page — on the left of left hand pages, and on the right of right hand pages.
Right hand pages should always be odd numbered
Avoid common grammatical and usage errors
Avoid some of the more common mistakes, and make your work read more professionally. Here are some examples.
When referring to a decade, don’t use an apostrophe as in 90’s, use ‘90s.
Use hyphens as dashes to hyphenate words (in-between), en rules between numbers (100–200) and em rules between words (different files — for instance).
Don’t use ampersands (‘&’) in text, use the word ‘and’.
Don’t Make Excessive Use Of Capitals — keep them to a minimum.
Use single quotation marks (‘ ’) rather than double quotation marks(“ ”), and use curly quotes (‘ ’) in preference to straight up and down quotes (‘ ‘).
Use single spaces between sentences, not two spaces.
Use EITHER line spaces OR indents to separate paragraphs, but not both.
The text in books is usually left AND right justified, not ragged right.
Be very conservative with hyphenation, and check that hyphenation occurs in a logical place in the hyphenated word.
Serif fonts (letters have tails) is generally regarded as easier to read than non-serif fonts.
Control widows and orphans. Paragraphs of four lines or more should always have a minimum of two lines at the bottom of a page, or at the start of the next page — not one line. This can be controlled in most software packages.
We recommend . . .
We recommend Nancy Shearer. Nancy offers proofreading and editing services for manuscripts, brochures and documents, online content, and English as a Second Language (ESL) assistance. She can be contacted on 0414 984 784 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nancy normally charges an hourly rate, which would be discussed according to your particular requirements. She would draw up with you a mutually agreeable plan and method of payment.
Nancy gives us a glimpse of her experience below.
Good things come in twos. Twin sons. Two ten-year periods of nursing. Two ten-year periods of owning and operating independent bookshops; Shearer’s Bookshop and Nancy Shearer’s Bookshop for Young People in Gordon, and the Brown Bookshop in Bowral. Two great areas for readers. In between these I indulged in a post graduate diploma of Leisure Studies, Management in Organisations, and Publicity and Public Relations.
Retirement enabled two new career paths which have interesting links. The first, Professional Editing and Proofreading in 2006 with lifestyle learning Direct and a revisionary course in 2016 with Open Colleges. The second in 2008 was a Cambridge Certificate in English Language Learning for Adults. I slipped in a couple of years with a Professional Organisation Business in the Southern Highlands before deciding to return to Editing and Proofreading Services.
In all these areas I have always had membership in relevant organisations, and engaged in promotional and educational events, large and small. I am currently a member of NSW IPEd (Institute of Professional Editors).
More useful hints and tips
Here we provide links to articles on more specialised subjects which you might encounter when preparing your files for printing.
I.D.E.A.S. Special Reports and Downloads. This is a rich source of articles on a wide variety of advanced prepress topics. Here are direct links to some useful articles
Computer Typography Basics. What fonts should you use and why. An excellent guide to understanding typography.
Understanding Resolution and the meaning of DPI, LPI, PPI and SPI. Why your images need to be 300dpi (and a lot more).
Dealing with Transparency in InDesign and Illustrator and Understanding the Effects of Transparency in PDFs. Two excellent articles on what for many is a very confusing subject.
The most comprehensive article we have seen on editing http://www.sfwa.org/other-resources/for-authors/writer-beware/editors/