Things You Need To Know About The Book Editing Process
No matter how good a writer you are, there are several things that you must not skimp on, one is your book cover and the second is your editing.
Getting to the first draft is a challenge, but a wonderful challenge as you are creating content for your book and ideal reader. Getting to final draft is magical but is often where we get word, punctuation and grammar blindness. Editing is not easy.
I love the initial parts of editing which is bringing the content to life. However, over time it can get a little tedious. Imagine 50,000 words in front you and it needs editing. That can seem overwhelming. It will be easier if you chunk it down with an editing plan and do one thing at a time.
When I undertake at a developmental edit for a client, I am looking at the robustness of the outline, the flow of the writing, how the book connects with me emotionally and how it fulfils its promise. Often when you get a book that you didn’t help to put together you can see some fairly obvious mistakes.
What is important is that your book is checked and goes through a robust editing process before publishing.
- Do you have an editing plan?
- What is in your editing plan?
- What is your editing process?
- Who will help you to edit and proof your book?
- What tools can you invest in to support the writing and editing process?
When someone selects your book, you want them to open it and to keep turning the pages. The first impression your book makes, starts with the front cover, continues throughout the layout, spelling, grammar, punctuation, choice of words, content, context and right through to the blurb on the back cover.
At this stage, it is vital that you treat your book as if it were a business and create a plan to which ensures you cover all of the bases. Your book is part of your personal brand and the only way to have a strong personal brand is to carefully define it. No marketer would dream of putting a product (your book) in the marketplace without a clear definition of the brand, who was being targeted and how to communicate the benefits.
Your personal brand is built 24/7 and 365 days per year through what you say, what you do, how you do it, what you look like and the impression you leave. Of course, you are human, and you will make mistakes. Just consider how your book fits with your personal branding plan.
Have an editing plan
One of the first things a marketer does is to conduct an audit, your editing plan is your audit. The audit provides an analysis of your first and subsequent drafts, your self-editing effectiveness and ability to build rapport with your reader. It is a way to provide clarity of purpose for where you are heading with your book.
Even though your book is written to connect with your reader, it makes sense align their needs with your own unique style, so that your book reflects you and your unique gifts. You want your book to carry the essence of who you are and what you are passionate about. It is a platform to deliver your valuable experience and to establish you as a thought leader.
Make a list of what needs to be edited
It’s not enough to know that you need to edit, you need an editing plan which contains all of the nitty-gritty stuff that you might miss. I have a long list of stuff for my clients to use once they have been through the magical part of smartening up their copy. We tick all of the boxes before the book goes to the proof reader.
Have an editing process
Do you have an editing process? Here’s what I do:-
- Print and read without marking up the manuscript
- Take time for reflection
- Read with coloured pens and brutally edit
- Edit on screen a few chapters at a time
- Reprint the manuscript and read aloud while editing
- Edit on screen a few chapters at a time
- When I work with clients, I read their book to them and we edit together
- Print, re read and edit
- Then I move onto the stuff in my editing plan.
You will find it more productive to edit one thing at a time and it doesn’t matter how many times you edit, you will catch other stuff when you are not expecting to. E.g.
- Spelling, grammar and punctuation
- Widows and orphans
- Overused words, jargon and professional terms
- Show and tell
- Flow and readability
- Facts, figures and research
- Introductions and first lines
- Formatting your book- this is where you layout your book ready for print or digital production
- Engaging with your readers thinking and learning style so that they can make meaning from your work
When this is done, I order a proof book. The proof book can go to your beta readers at this stage or after you have done another edit. When you have finalised your editing, the book must go to a proof reader – your last eyes.
Get help with your editing
This can be your partner, friend or coach who will read through your book for you or with you. Hearing your book read aloud is extremely powerful. Beta readers are a group of people who are prepared to read your book with a critical eye and can provide reviews when the book is launched. You do not have to do this alone.
Read books on how to create great copy
Other ways to get help is to read books on write technically good copy. Just make sure that you do not lose your voice and connection with your ideal reader. These are great for guiding you.
What tools can you invest in to support the writing and editing process?
There are tools embedded in your writing product, you can make great use of spelling, grammar checkers and the thesaurus. You can go up a notch and invest in Grammarly. I love Grammarly because it gets right into the nitty-gritty of my writing and makes me stop to reflect on what I have written.
There are lots of tools, perhaps try a few until you find the one you like. I did this a few years ago and Grammarly was a no brainer, I invested straight away.
What else do you need to know about editing?
Editing develops rapport
The words you use in your book will have an effect on the emotions of your reader and your ability to build rapport with them. In life people like people who are like them. People read books which are emotionally attractive to them. You need to show you care and be authentic in sending your message.
Rapport comes from the French word to build a relationship, think of it as building a bridge from your world to your reader’s world. Milton Erickson the father of trance and hypnotherapy and famous for his methods of building rapport, he says “anything is possible in the presence of a good rapport.” Your role with your book is to build rapport with your readers so that you make a connection, create a relationship, influence them and create an impact.
Book rapport is your reader believing that the person who wrote this (your) book is like them and understands them.
Editing needs discipline
I don’t struggle with discipline, I just hate anyone telling me what to do, and my errant teenager still lives strong inside me. If this editing malarkey is not second nature to you, take comfort in knowing that you are not alone. When I look at the dust mounting up (I live in what is known as the campo – dust is rampant) and ask dusting or editing a book? The dust is left. Each of these activities can become chores unless you change your mindset.
Your job is to get this book completed in the best way that you can and with each book that you write, you will get better at the process.
The power of reflection
Reflection is our response to experiences, situations, events or new information and a phase where processing and learning can take place. When you reflect your unconscious mind searches for evidence and analyses it. After which it tries to make meaning and draw conclusions based on the evidence presented. Once we have been able to evaluate what we are reflecting on, we then add value.
Reflection is a powerful learning experience. Not only are we learning as we write our material, but we are also learning how to present it so that others can learn from it. It gives us time to process what we have written.
In order to make sense of our writing, we simply have to leave it. When you are ready to re-read and edit, your mind will be rested and ready to look at it with new eyes. This is when you will be able to get the big red pen out and sort through your work effectively.
And finally, never lose sight of who are you writing for
You will have created an ideal reader before you started to write. Go back and review this, bring it up to date if needs be. Some points to consider:-
- Are you writing for people in a particular field, such as psychology, health, engineering, sales and marketing? You cannot assume the reader has knowledge of the terminology and concepts you will use.
- Do you need to provide background material and additional references? What will these be?
- What expectations does your reader have?
- What kind of thinking/learning style might they have? E.g., an accountant will think differently to an artist (typically). You may be highly visual, but what about your reader?
- They may be experts, but what is their reading level – think about the words you use or how you might explain something.
- How fussy will they be over precise punctuation and grammar? This is soooo important.
- Are your case study characters and your story believable?
- Do you have an ‘argumentative’ readership, will they agree or disagree with your point of view? What proof can you offer?
- What about the tone you are setting?
There we have it, a few ideas about editing which I hope hasn’t scared you off your book project. You may find you are a natural editor and just imagine holding your beautiful book in your hands.
On the Write Your Book program editing is a big focus area. Together we will ensure that you publish a book that you can be proud of.
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