Every author needs an editor. No matter how great of a writer you are, it is impossible to review your own writing objectively. Because you know your story and writing style so well, it is too easy to overlook simple mistakes or inconsistencies. Plus, copyediting requires special skills. Copyeditors are experts in the Chicago Manual of Style (and other style manuals). They not only look for grammar and spelling when they review your manuscript, but they also make sure your manuscript meets your industry’s publishing standards. This is essential if you want your book to be taken seriously.
When hiring a copyeditor, you will need to decide what level of editing is best for your manuscript. Often the editor (or editorial staff, if you are hiring through a company) will review your manuscript and tell you which level of editing is best for your book. Before beginning this process, it is a good idea to understand the various levels available to you. Here are the three types of copyediting services available to self-published authors.
Basic copyediting is a good choice for authors whose primary concern is correction of style and mechanics. Basic editing does not include fact checking, sentence restructuring, or suggestions to improve flow, aesthetics, or voicing. Corrections you can expect with basic editing include:
• Typographical errors
• Misspelled words
• Grammatical errors
• Homophone confusion
• Style consistency
• Standardization of spelling and capitalization
• Consistency of specific or repeated references
This is the most popular level of editorial service and is appropriate for all genres.
Moderate editing is a good choice for authors who would like to improve the flow and aesthetics of their work as well as improve the basic style and mechanics of their manuscript. Moderate editing will usually include restructuring of awkward sentences, elimination of redundancies, and attention to inconsistencies of tone or voicing. Moderate editing often includes some fact checking, such as confirmation of brand names, proper names of historical figures or locations, etc.
This level of editing can be tailored to your particular needs or concerns. If you are not sure whether your manuscript needs moderate editing, talk to the editor or editorial staff. They can look at your manuscript and make suggestions based on common mistakes they see.
Extensive editing includes mechanical and style corrections as well as sentence restructuring, attention to aesthetics, and some fact checking. More than any other type of editing, extensive editing is custom-designed to meet the specific needs of your manuscript and your goals as an author. Extensive editing may include project development, such as tracking and critiquing story arc and character development. If your project is nonfiction, you may want your editor to give input as to the effectiveness of your organization or the strength of your arguments. Your editor may give reader commentary as well as mechanical and style corrections.
Extensive editing is often a good choice for first-time authors who have not had a chance to workshop a manuscript with a writing group. It can also be an excellent choice for authors who are too close to their subject matter to objectively assess the effectiveness of their writing – a challenge experienced by many memoir writers. Extensive editing can also be an acceptable solution if English is not your native language, in which case your manuscript may require a higher level of text polishing.
If you are interested in copyediting services, there are many ways to find great copyeditors. One option is to find out if your self-publishing company offers copyediting services. You can also search for copyeditors online, post a project listing, or ask for references.
I’d love to know, which level of copyediting do you plan to purchase for your self-published book?
||ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.