Is Your Book Ready

for an Editor?

It may seem like a no-brainer that your text is ready for an editor, but before you go through the expense, go through one more review of the manuscript with a few criteria in mind.

Are you done?

Complete all of the book's text before sending it to an editor to save yourself time and money—and avoid potential typos that could creep in later. Even if you have just a few things to double-check or add here or there, submitting incomplete text to an editor doesn't actually save you time in the editing process. Errors that are introduced into the text after the copyediting round could potentially damage your book's credibility with readers.

If your book actually needs some developmental editing, that's different and more involved than straight copy editing. A developmental edit will advise you on larger-scale issues than the nuts and bolts of hyphens and commas. Developmental editing can find organizational issues among the chapters and arguments that aren't completely fleshed out or substantiated. It can find tangents, duplicate information among the chapters, or places where the chapter or section goes off-topic. Your editor likely will be able to help you with any problems in your manuscript, but if you had budgeted for just a copyedit, additional issues come with additional expense. Make sure you're completely done before sending it off, to save your budget and timeline.

Has it been fact-checked?

If your work was going to be published by a traditional publishing company, it would go through a developmental editor, fact-checker, copy editor, designer, and proofreader. A copy editor might question a fact or two and leave you a note to double-check something, but fact-checking a manuscript is a job separate from copyediting. Expecting to hire just a copy editor when your manuscript also needs a fact-checker could leave your text inaccurate in some places and ruin its credibility and authoritative tone. Make sure you have all of your research organized so that you can stand by every fact or quote cited in your book. An eagle-eyed reader will find your mistake and will likely call you out on it. One error left in can create doubt in a reader's mind about every other fact in the book, even though everything else might be perfect.

Is your text current?

Particularly in books that are updated editions of a previous manuscript or those that quote scientific studies or regulations, you'll want to make sure that your information is not out of date. Studies happen all the time, government regulations change, and professional associations revise their recommendations continually. If you're quoting an American Association of Pediatrics recommendation from 2004 or a study on the causes of Parkinson's, it might not be valid or completely correct anymore because of new research and data from the last five years. Double-check your info before sending off the manuscript.

Is your front matter in the correct order?

Books generally have a certain structure to them. As a self-published author, you've probably never heard of the Chicago Manual of Style, but your editor certainly has. It lays out guidelines for everything, from how each punctuation mark should be used to the order of the parts of the book. Do a little research and find out what information belongs in the preface vs. the introduction (or whether you really need to have both) before it gets to the editor, to save time (and your budget some money).

Is your back matter properly formatted?

One of the most time-consuming parts of any manuscript preparation is the formatting of footnote, endnote, reference, and/or bibliography citations. If your manuscript relies on lots of research, save yourself considerable money and look up how to format this material rather than pay someone hourly to do it for you. Generally, citation information goes in this order: Author, Title, where published, year. In a bibliography or reference list, citations are organized alphabetically by author last name. Web links do not always have an author listed, and these may have the organization stand in as the author. Include your access date, in case the article is updated after you look at it, and the link at the end of the citation. Click here for a helpful resource.

What are your expectations?

To be happy with the finished product, your expectations for the level of editorial services you hire must coincide with what the manuscript needs, or else your book could be left inaccurate or incomplete or end up costing more than you think to get ready for publication. Be realistic about your timetable. A book of 100,000 words is not likely to be ready for design in two weeks. I will always do two copy editing passes through your manuscript—never believe anyone who tells you that one pass is sufficient—as well as a separate pass looking at headers and subheads, alphabetizing of reference citations, and the like.

Publishing is a more involved process than a new writer imagines. A lot of time and effort goes into getting a manuscript ready for publication. After you (and your book) are absolutely ready to go, contact me for a quote. I've been in this business for more than twenty years now and will work hard to make your manuscript the best it can be.