Few accomplishments are as gratifying as writing your own book, and it’s exhilarating to finally hold a printed copy in your hand. But you’ll need an editor to make corrections and refinements before your book goes to the printer. Most writers know this, but many new authors wonder, “Will my publisher edit my book?”
With that in mind, here’s everything you need to know about editing a manuscript before publication.
Do Publishers Provide an Editor?
“Will my publisher edit my book?” In most cases, the answer is yes. Most major publishers employ a team of in-house editors who can correct errors, provide fact-checking and rewrite key sections to improve readability.
You still might consider alternatives for various reasons. Small or niche publishers might not have an editing team, or your genre may be so unique that you’d prefer to find a specialized editor. You may also find that the publisher’s editor will only correct it for spelling and grammar, but you need someone to examine the structure and flow of the narrative.
Other Ways to Edit Your Book
Where can you turn if your book needs an edit? Even if your publisher provides an editor, it’s always smart to submit the most polished version of your manuscript that you can, if for no other reason than it can drastically improve the chances of a publisher accepting your manuscript.
With that in mind, here are ways to get your book edited without relying on a publisher.
Hire Your Own Professional Editor
You can always hire your own professional editor to review and revise your manuscript. This can be a good option if you’re uncertain of the editorial process offered by your publisher or if you want an editor who specializes in your subject matter.
But be cautious. Some publishers will insist on running your manuscript by their editorial staff anyway. As such, it might be inefficient and costly to hire a professional editor only to be required to use your publisher’s editing team anyway.
Find a Volunteer Editor
If you have friends or family that commonly read your particular genre, they can potentially offer some great feedback to steer you in the right direction. If you need a more detailed examination, consider relatives or acquaintances who are language buffs.
Just make sure that you get honest feedback. Friends might be reluctant to point out areas that need revision, and they may need prompting to give you their uncensored opinions.
Finally, keep in mind that none of these volunteers will hold a candle to the skill of a professional editor — even if your uncle is an English professor.
Edit Your Own Book
You may be surprised to learn that a publisher will edit your book, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t edit your work before you submit it, which will streamline the process for you and your editor.
The obvious drawback is that it’s always harder to see your own mistakes. In some cases, it’s impossible. Editing your own work can be a great start, but even the best writers will benefit from an external set of eyes to provide clear, objective feedback and any necessary corrections.
How to Edit a Book
When you’re polishing your book before it goes to print, keep in mind these basic book-editing tips.
Look for Plot Holes
If your main character shows no sign of technological prowess yet manages to hack into a secure terminal in Chapter 6, that’s a plot hole your readers will likely pick up on. Whether because of faulty logic or bad research, it’s best to fix plot holes before the book reaches the hands of your readers.
Define the Purpose of Each Chapter
This is easier in nonfiction where each chapter can have a clearly defined subject. But in novels, each chapter must directly contribute to the narrative of the book and move the story forward. If it doesn’t, cut it. If you don’t know a chapter’s purpose, chances are that the reader will feel like it doesn’t belong.
Examine for Consistency
Does the plot move forward at an inconsistent pace? Do any of your characters change personalities with no clear basis? If the answer to these questions is yes, you have some editing to do before publication.
Nonfiction works should be carefully scrutinized for the accuracy of dates, historical events, names, statistics and other important claims. But don’t forget to do the same when editing a novel when it applies.
Take Breaks in Between
Don’t try to edit an entire manuscript at once. Take breaks periodically, then come back to the manuscript with fresh eyes. This is especially important given that you’ll likely need to complete multiple cycles of revision before your manuscript is complete.
Bottom Line: Will My Publisher Edit My Book?
If you’ve just finished a book and are asking yourself whether your publisher will edit it, check with them. The good news is that regardless of whether your publisher has an editing team, you now know how to edit books, so you can refine your work before it’s published.
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Most major publishers will provide assistance in the form of editing, graphic design and marketing. They may even pursue magazines or newspapers to publish reviews of your work. But if you want to find success as an author, you’ll have to take on a lot of marketing responsibilities yourself.
Amazon.com Inc. can pull the works of self-published authors if they suspect fraud. They may also temporarily pull titles that have quality concerns, which is another good reason for making sure your work is thoroughly edited.
A legitimate publisher will pay you for your work, though it may have certain terms and conditions to meet. Beware of publishers that ask for money up front; this is often a sign of a scam.