The Book Editing Process

What Editing Is All About

Once you write “The End,” your self-publishing journey is just beginning. The next stop? Editing! During the editing part of the process, you (and your editors) have one goal: to make your manuscript the best it can be.

“But my book is great already!”

Here’s a secret: you’ve spent so long with your book that you know it inside and out. Your future readers, however, don’t. Editing ensures your words say what you intend them to say. To do that, you need a team of people who can act as an impartial sounding board, reviewing the text for areas that could be even more effective.

“Editing is expensive!”

You’re right, it is. But for good reason. Your editors know the industry and language rules. It takes them time to read through your manuscript and provide feedback. If you want to compete with other books—both self- and traditionally published—your book has to be the best it can be. Every great book has an equally great editor—or team of editors—behind it.

There’s some good news, too. The cleaner your manuscript is before you hand it to your editor, the less it’ll cost you. The first few book editing stages (that’s right, there are stages!) help you do exactly that.

A Step-by-Step Guide to the Editing Process

Each stage of the editing process has a specific purpose, which goes back to your original goal: making your manuscript the best it can be.

You and/or your family and friends:

1. Self-Edit

You’re the first line of defense. The self-edit is when you reacquaint yourself with your book to correct mistakes you didn’t catch while writing. This can be as simple as fixing typos or as big as rewriting chapters. But before you dive in, give yourself a break so you can come back to your book with fresh eyes. You’ll want to slow down and really read every word while doing this—maybe even read it aloud—so you can truly see and hear what’s on the page, not what you meant to write.

2. Beta Readers

Beta readers are volunteers who read your book and provide feedback. They’re no substitute for professional editors, but beta readers can spot potential issues before you get any further in the editing process.

When it comes to finding beta readers, look for people who are familiar with the subject (nonfiction) or enjoy the genre (fiction). Make sure you choose readers who won’t simply say “it’s great”—while that may be good for your ego, it’s not good for your manuscript.

The professionals:

3. Developmental Editors

Developmental editors usually look at a manuscript’s big-picture items. With nonfiction, those might be suggestions to improve clarity, structure, or the soundness of your book’s argument. For fiction, a developmental editor focuses on characterization, dialogue, and plot development.

4. Copy Editors

When you think of copyediting, think of grammar. A copy editor gets into how you’re saying what you’re saying. During a copyedit, your editor will correct your spelling, grammar, and punctuation. He or she will even point out inconsistencies and errors in language use.

5. Proofreaders

A proofread happens after all the editing is completed and you’ve moved into layout. By this point, you and your editors have caught as many typos or mistakes as possible already. After your editing is done, is not the time to make a lot of changes—so the proofread is time to catch lingering mistakes that have cropped up before your book is finalized for printing. This job is best for someone who specializes in looking at the finest details and has never read your book before.

How Mill City Press Helps

To meet your editing needs, Mill City Press offers four editorial packages. Don’t know which one’s for you? No worries! If we complete a manuscript evaluation for you, it’ll also include an editorial package recommendation.

Here’s a brief overview of our editing packages. For more details, visit our services page.

1. Basic Copyedit: one round of copyediting
2. Basic Plus: Basic Copyedit + one round of proofreading
3. Comprehensive Edit: one round of developmental editing + one round of copyediting
4. Publish Prep: Comprehensive Edit + one round of proofreading

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