Ask the Doctor: Editing and Self-Publishing

Q: I plan to self publish. My book was written and designed and ready to go to a printer, but somebody warned me that it needed editing.  I sent it to an editor, but he said he can’t edit it when it’s already designed. Why not?

A: A manuscript should always be edited before it is designed into book format, and the reasons are simple. If you plan to have the editor work on the hard-copy version of your manuscript, it has to be in standard manuscript format; that is, twelve-point Courier or Times New Roman type, double-spaced, with margins of at least an inch on all sides. This format is standard in the industry and gives the editor room to work. If the book is already designed, it won’t be in standard manuscript format; it will be in book format.

If you plan to have your editor work on your electronic file, the format won’t matter, but it must be in a word-processing document, not a design program or a PDF. Most editors are not designers and won’t have the design program used to design your book. If it is in a PDF file, most editors cannot change those files electronically. Worst of all, even if the editor has the capability of opening the design program or manipulating a PDF (which some do), editing a book after it is designed will surely interfere with the design. After the file is edited you’ll have to return it to your designer to get it redesigned, and there will certainly be an additional charge for that service.

As you can see, it’s cheaper and easier to follow convention. After you have made all the revisions to your manuscript that you can make, get it edited. After it is edited, reread the manuscript for a final proof before getting the manuscript designed into a book.

 

Bobbie Christmas, book doctor, author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), and owner of Zebra Communications, will answer your questions, too. Send them to Bobbie@zebraeditor.com. Read more “Ask the Book Doctor” questions and answers at www.zebraeditor.com

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