It’s one thing to have an interesting concept for a story and another to make sure it doesn’t get rejected later on by a publisher or a potential producer who might just give you that ticket to transform the book into a movie franchise. With today’s advancements in marketing and the available platforms at our disposal, it can be very easy for the modern-day author to miss out on the most basic requirement before publishing a title— editing it.
Editing has come to mean countless things over the years and has evolved into so many variants from one publisher to another. For starters, Wikipedia describes editing as “the process of selecting and preparing writing, photography, visual, audible, and film media used to convey information.” But needless to say, all that is just the tip of the iceberg. When one writes, he has a specific audience in mind and he has a message to convey. It is also his professional responsibility to revisit these things and keep them in check when he completes his initial manuscript.
Of course, there is that fact of “personal bias” in our own work which makes us not the best candidate to edit our own material. There’s a cliché that the best books are always those that are scrutinized by more than just two sets of eyes and it makes perfect sense as having so eliminates prejudice in reexamining the components of a book. Sometimes an author’s own eyes can be forgiving of minor errors thus, depriving a book the chance of becoming broader in meaning.
An outsider on the other hand who is unfamiliar with the whole textile of the story can have a more objective eyesight and in many situations, can offer detached and independent suggestions to an already enriching story. This makes it a win-win situation as the author gets to explore multiple ideas to develop the work, plus, the editor is already “essentially” a qualified reader who is giving out his honest opinion about the book after diligently analyzing its plot, characterization, structure, and grammar among other things.
It is hence imperative to know what editing services are available out there and which one is most suitable to the specific needs of every author. To condense what can possibly become a long discussion, I have chosen terms that are more familiar and relatable to a new author while he goes through the drafting stage:
- Copy editing: In school, we are taught that copy editing is when you deal with grammar. But more to that, this is when you make sure readers get your message the way you want them to be taken. This is when you fine tune the kernel sentence patterns in your work to make sure the subjects and the verbs agree and the time when you decide for a style that you will consistently use all throughout the material. You would want your readers to focus on what actually happens in the story rather than be snatched away by striking irregularities in spelling because in one chapter you decided to go American English and then British all of a sudden on the next.
- Proof reading: Some call this “last-minute” editing because publishing houses fine-comb manuscripts after the initial draft and before they print the first book which they normally hand over to the author as his personal copy. This stage is tricky and requires the sharpest and most vigilant eyes to verify spelling, capitalization and even paragraphing. In other words, after proof reading, a manuscript is expected error-free and thus ready for printing.
- Developmental editing: Apart from worrying whether the story makes sense and has relatable value, the author must also see to it that the characters are connected with each other. The characters need to be developed enough and their motives in the story should be articulated. The timing and pacing should be just right to give justice to the characters and the storyline. The plot must be believable and everything else must be fluid to allow unobstructed imagination for the readers.
As you move along with your publishing journey, you will see that a professionally edited book will always be the best bang for your buck. A poorly edited document can give the impression that the writer is lazy, sloppy or too amateur to take on the challenge of becoming the next big thing. This goes for all writers but especially for first-time authors who dream to set up a career in writing, you would want all that extra nice impression of a tidy manuscript when you go for the big decision makers. Whether you’re looking to self-publish your work or hope to get a deal with a traditional publisher, a well edited material will always represent you ahead and will exude that ‘readiness’ to be a bestselling author.