Monday, 25 July 2011

Step 2: Editing your Book

 The common mistakes revealed 
Once you have completed writing your book, the difficult part is done. All other steps involved in the Book Publishing Process involve making your book's content easy to read, appealing to look at, attention grabbing, protecting your intellectual property and reproducing it or getting it to your target market.

Editing is very important when it comes to making your book easy to read. There is nothing worse to the human eye than a book riddled with grammatical errors, words which are incorrectly spelled,has line breaks in the middle of words, page breaks with one word separated from the rest of the paragraph, text in inconsistent sizes or formatting etc. The average reader may not necessarily notice exactly what is wrong if any of these things are not right, but what they will notice is that they will find your book hard to engage with and may even feel uncomfortable reading it. This is disastrous for any book and obviously has a large immediate effect on future sales as it may limit recommendations of the book to friends, or the original buyer's purchase of part 2 in the case of a series.

Worse still, if it is an obvious error like incorrect spelling, the reader will notice and any credibility you may gain from writing a book will be lost when your reader realises you can't spell. A poorly edited book looks messy and unprofessional, which gives the impression to the reader that your content is messy and unprofessional. So even if you have no intention of gaining publicity or making a profit from your book, even a'dream book'should be produced to a standard you can be proud of and that gives credibility to the author, rather than taking it away, due to a small oversight in the editing stage leaving one or two grammatical errors.

Now, nobody is perfect and it is common for a book to come back from print with the odd minor error discovered afterwards. You can never guarantee that your book will be perfect, you just want to make sure that you minimise the errors such that if there are any mistakes found in your book after printing, you are the only one who will ever know about them. To ensure your book is free from these kind of common errors, please refer to the checklist below.


1. Check there are no spelling errors.

2. Check there are no grammatical errors.

3. Check there are no extra spaces between or in any of your words.

4. Check that there is a single space between each word.

5. Make sure whatever formatting you use is consistent throughout the whole book eg. if references to another page are in brackets, make sure they are always in brackets.

6. Proof read your own book.

7. Get at least two external proof readers to check your book as well.

It is an integral part of the proof reading process to have more than one person proof your book. If you are a good proof reader, it may be yourself and another... if you are not so good, use two independent people. You cannot afford to have only one set of eyes go over your book as you cannot afford for your eyes to be the only ones. Someone who is distant from the project will often spot something you overlooked, as you are too closely involved.

It is a common mistake for authors when writing not to have another set of eyes look over their project, as they are certain it is perfect. Be careful being too precious regarding your work as the more precious you are, the more easily mistakes slip through. On the flip side, people often think if they pay a professional, then the ghost writer should proof and edit their work for them. This is 100% true, however if the ghost writer has written your whole book, they are equally as close to the project as you would have been if you had written it yourself and this being so, you should always get a second set of eyes to go over it. In the case of a ghost writer you may choose to be the second set of eyes (and this is often a very good idea as you want to know what is being written on your behalf) but it an equally good idea, if you are too busy or not experienced enough to do this yourself, to pay an external editor to do this for you. Good publishing houses these days provide editing services for you independent of any ghost writing services they may offer.

With collaborations and compilations this editing is more important then ever, as chances are that each chapter has already been individually edited by the individual contributors. While this is usually a good thing to pick up spelling and grammatical errors, it is a bad thing when it comes to consistency errors, as independent contributors will never be consistent with each other until an editor has gone through all of the chapters and made them that way.

Whether you edit your own book or ask someone else to, whether it is a professional job or volunteer work from a friend, whether your book is written by your hand or ghost written by someone else, always remember to edit and always do it twice. Complete writing, edit your book yourself and then get an external editor to edit your book again. Pass it on to the designer to lay the cover and contents of the book and after it is laid, edit it yourself and then pass it onto a different external editor to edit again. Complete your project, check it and then check it again. That way you will not be disappointed with the outcome.

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