For those that are new to the Boley Books Family, I would like to take a moment to introduce myself . . .
I’m Kami Boley—the featured author and creative director behind boleybooks.com. If you would like to learn more about me and my projects, please visit our website. I’d love to hear from you!
In my post “Are You Ready To Self-Publish?” I touched on the main steps that can either make or break you in the world of publishing. A catchy title and a good cover may grab attention, but error-free writing will keep readers engaged and coming back for more. A story that is not well-developed or has a ton of silly mistakes will kill your credibility and turn readers off before it can reach the first incitng moment. Let’s take a closer, more in-depth look at this step in the “hook-to-book” process. In this installment let’s focus on . . .
The Importance of Editing
Your first draft is finished—but that is only the beginning. You will now have to analyze each page so many times that you get tired of looking at it, and then it is ready for a new set of eyes. To seek out editing services was an easy decision for me because I have no confidence in my ability to locate my own errors. I willingly hand my prose to the Pros. The big boys of publishing will spare no expense on their investments (a minimum of two passes), and neither should you. If you have a message or a story in you and want the world to read it . . . don’t get just anyone to shine it up. Be sure to find the right editor (I have two) for you and your words and send the best version of your work to the press.
There are different types of editing that go above and beyond a simple proofreading. There are several facets to sparkling manuscript revision—so I decided to ask one of my editors Spencer Hamilton to tell us more about the types of editing he provides . . .
Editor / Author / Musician
DEVELOPMENTAL / SUBSTANTIVE / CONTENT EDITING
This focuses on the big one: story. Does your protagonist have a character arc—internal flaw, external goal, redemption or failure? Does your villain present a realistic foil to your main character? Does your plot build upon a central theme, or does it rely heavily on tropes? How is your pacing and dialogue? Do the scenes flow together well?
I, as an editor, cannot stress enough how crucial this step in the process is. A published book can look as polished and professional as possible, but if your readers do not believe in the story itself, or if they can sense on some level (we as humans all have a storytelling bone, somewhere near the funny bone) that the story is broken, they will not join your reading family. And there is nothing worse than investing your time and money into a story you believe in and finding out there were wrinkles in your story from the get-go which a developmental editor could have ironed smooth for you.
COPY EDITING / LINE EDITING
Personally, I love this step in the process. I am the type of editor who can dissect a story (like I describe above) but who loves losing himself in the details. This is when we get into the nitty-gritty.
Line editing is when we get to start wordsmithing each individual line of your story. How is your language’s rhythm? Do you have a strong authorial voice and a clear style? Does the dialogue flow, or does it sound stilted? Is your prose purple? Have you fallen prey to adverbs, passive voice, telling over showing?
Copy editing is the real fine print of the process. During this step I hunt out and refine your grammar and syntax; I clean up your punctuation; I edit for textual consistency (American English publishing standards? Or U.K.?) and build a style guide if your book involves a large cast of creatures or a lexicon of made-up words; I also enter heavy fact-checking here: are there glaring or subtle plot-holes or inconsistencies, or did such-and-such a historic fact truly happen the way you have stated?, etc.
The final step in the process is one most authors either completely ignore or choose in lieu of all the above steps as their bare-minimum. But don’t skip it! It’s often the occasional typo in an otherwise professional book that turns readers off.
I’ll be honest here: don’t hire me to proofread. There are proofreaders out there, of course, but I’m of the school of thought that the proofreading stage is a great opportunity to get some beta readers. Beta readers are awesome! They can help trumpet out the news of there being a new incredible book out there (yours!) while at the same time combing the completed manuscript for that stubborn typo that survived this long.
Editing is not a process that you as a professional author can skip, nor is it one you can do yourself (even editors hire an editor for their own writing!). As a self-published author, you are essentially your own publisher, which means you need to outsource to a freelance editor in order to create that bestselling novel.
Kami’s novels are a perfect example of this: when she comes to me with new material, I already know she has sent it through the grinder with her developmental editor—and IT SHOWS. I can then dive into line edits and copy edits confident that I am helping polish a story whose plot and characters and themes were tended with care . . . which is an editor’s dream. Readers may not know it, but it’s their dream too!
Thank you, Spencer, for shedding some light on these important components in the creation of a riveting novel—an invaluable service indeed.
My goal is to keep well-rounded editors that can do all of this magic to polish up my work—along with the patience to put up with my eccentricities and the courage to push back when I am being stubborn.
My suggestion to every burgeoning author is to find an editor who will not only repair the structure of your pages but also someone who will force you to stretch and grow as a writer.
Would you like to know more about editing? Are you in need of editing services? Contact Spencer >> firstname.lastname@example.org
We have many awesome interviews with authors and other creatives coming soon to entertain and educate stay tuned.
Give us your feedback. What are your best tips for editing your work? Tell us in the comments!