Editing Your Book

Editing Your Book
Once your manuscript is completed, the next step is to make sure your manuscript is ready for publishing. Editing is the process of cleaning up your manuscript by checking for misspelled words, incorrect words (“their” in place of “there” and so on), punctuation errors, and to a lesser extent, grammatical issues. This type of editing in known as proofreading. Other types of editing are copy editing (checking for proper word usage, repetition, and a closer look at grammatical problems), and style editing. Style editing is an in-depth look at the overall structure of the text. It can include a reorganization of paragraphs, adding, removing, or rewriting sentences. In most cases, a manuscript will need the less intensive proofread. If you feel your manuscript requires either copy editing, or style editing, we recommend contacting a professional editor. Attempting to reorganize, or re-write your own manuscript can lead to problems such as “making changes for changes sake”. This rarely works well.

Dividing your Text into Paragraphs
Text is grouped into paragraphs to make the text more easily readable. Text is divided based on the topic or idea within the paragraph. When a new thought is introduced, or a new plot development is introduced, a new paragraph should be started. Although it is often said that a paragraph must be at least 3 sentences in length, a paragraph can contain as little as a single word.

The following are the most common items to look for in your manuscript:

  • Misspelled Words
  • Incorrect Words (watch for words such as “affect” and “effect” or “to” and “too”)
  • Punctuation (the overuse of commas and missing periods are most common)
  • Run-on Sentences (this is usually the result of the overuse of commas)
  • Two spaces after each period
  • Words which should be capitalized.

Editing Tricks
The use of “spell check” can minimize the occurrence of misspelled words, but it will not catch punctuation issues, or the use of incorrect words. The following are a few tips used to help find these types of errors in your manuscript:

  • ADJUSTING THE FONT - It is surprising but increasing the font size and adjusting the font style can reveal problems which may otherwise have gone unnoticed. A sans serif font such as Verdana would be a good choice. Once editing is complete the font should be adjusted back to a proper book font.
  • READ BACKWARDS - Reading the text backwards (from the end of the book to the front) will often reveal problems with punctuation such as missing periods, or too many spaces after a period.

Who Should Proofread Your Book?
While the writer is usually the person who will proofread their manuscript, quite often a family member or friend is asked to do the final proofread before a book is submitted for printing. This is often a good idea as it is usually difficult for the writer to uncover their own mistakes. Another option is to hire a qualified student from a local community college or university to provide this service. A third option is to hire a professional proofreader. Although we do not provide a proofreading service, we would be pleased to recommend a qualified proofreader if this is your preference.