One of the most difficult issues a self-publishing author deals with is editing. In addition to the varying types and levels of editing, there's the
issue of the considerable cost involved. In our traditional and subsidy publishing formats, professional substantive editing is part of the publishing
Every professional writer realizes that it's difficult to do an edit of their own work. Considering that they are the one who introduced the errors in
the first place, it's unlikely they could identify all their mistakes and make corrections. As an author writes, their mind knows the story and
automatically at a subconscious level, fills in the blanks. A sentence that makes perfect sense to the writer may leave a reader bewildered.
Readers don't know the storyline and must be spoon fed each and every detail, so they can easily follow it. If the story has gaps or supposes the
reader already understands something that they don't, it may be confusing and they will quickly lose interest. Editing can help turn a manuscript
draft into a professional work.
The art and science of editing is a specialized field requiring unique skills. Some of the best editors are not authors. This is because an author may
lack objectivity in editing certain kinds of work. For example, if the editor is a science fiction writer and is editing a similar work, they may
unintentionally introduce their own writing style into the work. Editors should be unbiased and objective. Their job is to perfect the writing, not
change the style, content, or color the work in a way not intended by the writer. Maintaining the author's original voice is important.
A professional edit begins by reading the work to understand the concept and goal the writer intends to convey. Obviously editing a children's book
is quite different from editing a work of science fiction. Even though many editors read at exceptional speeds, it still takes hours to complete. Once
the editor understands the storyline and what the writer intends, they start at chapter one with the first edit. Just imagine the time involved
reading a two hundred and fifty page manuscript, paying attention to every single word and how that word relates to others. Professional editing for
that manuscript will take many hours depending upon the extent of the edit. Some editors after finishing the first edit, allow the manuscript to
rest for a few days before starting the final edit.
Now comes the interaction with the writer, determining what portions of the edit will be adopted and incorporated into the work. After making the
approved changes, a final proof read is completed, and the first edit is complete. Manuscripts typically undergo several edits before the work is
considered finished. Give another editor a chance at the work, and they may have an entirely different opinion. Because editing is as much an art
form as a science, editing is subjective, and another editor may consider a previously completed work, to need further editing.
Editing is a process, it is not an event. It is not merely a spelling and grammar check. Good editing involves structural composition and flow of
words, and how they are understood by the reader. Most editors follow the Chicago Manual of Style which is a widely accepted standard of rules. A
good editor knows when to follow grammatical rules and when to make exceptions. If following the rules changes the intent or flow of thought in a
sentence, the editor may make an exception. This is where a top flight editor is worth their weight in gold. It's been said "A skilled editor can
make a silk purse out of a sow's ear." An editor can take a supposedly completed work and polish it to a bright shine. Professional editors
justifiably command a great deal of respect in the industry.
Any given work produced in the literary industry, has many critics and is continually scrutinized from novice to expert. Everyone may have a
different opinion of the quality of the writing and the skill of the writer. Ten expert evaluations may yield eleven opinions. This is the reason cars
are painted different colors, because everyone has a different idea as to which color, is the right color.
It can be highly embarrassing to have your manuscript published and offered for sale when it's riddled with obvious errors. The reader should be
captivated by the story, not continually distracted by the mistakes. This is what distinguishes an amateur from a professional. Who would be proud
to put their name on, and promote something that was not their best work? The answer is obvious; an amateur. Professionals offer their best
work, and it's part of what makes them a professional. Most agents and publishers will not consider a manuscript that is poorly written by an
obvious amateur, regardless of how compelling the story may be. Their job is to select the cream of the crop, not inferior writing that has potential.
Editing is a considerable expense. Any editor or service that offers editing for a hundred dollars or so is probably not offering much in the way of
professional editing. Professional editing typically costs around 1.2 to 3.0 cents per word. The more highly skilled the editor, the greater the cost
for their services. Editing may be expensive, but in the final analysis, it's money well spent. Any expense that improves or perfects your work is an
investment with a potential reward.
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