by Amy Collins
Top Ten Reasons Why Your English Teacher-Mother-Neighbor-Friend-Church Secretary Cannot Edit or Proof Your Book
An avid reader with a red pen is not a good substitute for an editor who knows how to polish and refine another’s writing.
The amateur editor or proof reader does not know all the elements to look for.
They have not developed the years of training it takes to catch almost every mistake.
They do not know the proper arc and format of each type of book.
They do not know The Chicago Manual of Style standards for book publishing.
They do not know how to code a manuscript for the designers.
Yes, they catch every spelling mistake in their daily lives, but they do not catch every spacing, line setting, page number, and margin error.
They are not practiced in working in the publishing industry. They cannot offer the advice and guidance that a professional can.
They do not have the software and computer skills to work as efficiently as a professional.
Hire an amateur, and you will might lose your chance to publish a good book and end up publishing a could-have-been-good book.
Looking for a professional to evaluate your manuscript? At Infinity Publishing, our team of editorial experts will provide you with a complete manuscript evaluation for less than $200. It's worth every penny.
Amy Collins MacGregor started her career in the book industry as the book buyer for Village Green Books in Upstate, New York. In 1996, she “hopped the desk” and thoroughly enjoyed working as a National Account Rep for Prima Publishing. In 2001, Amy was named Director of Sales at Adams Media in Boston and quickly rose to the Special Sales Director for parent company, F+W Media. Over the years, Amy has sold to Borders, Barnes and Noble, Target, Costco, Wal-mart, and all the major chains as well as help launch several private label publishing programs for chains such as PetSmart and CVS. In February 2006, Amy started The Cadence Group and now runs the fastest-growing book distribution company in North America, New Shelves Distribution, where she offers her sales experience to small publishers and self-published authors.
by Molly Redenbaugh
To copyedit, or not to copyedit: that is the question.
You’re a pretty good speller, and even if you’re not, you live next door to a retired English teacher. Thanks to MS Word, you’ve run your final manuscript through spell check no less than fifteen times, so why should you spend the money on copyediting services when those same funds will easily replace that old, worn-out washing machine with a shiny new one filled with all the latest bells and whistles?
I get it—I really do. This is exactly why we advise all Author Advocates at Infinity Publishing NOT to sell editorial services by themselves. It’s just too much money to spend without fully comprehending WHY you’re spending it.
Your mom loves your book, as do all your neighbors and friends, but remember, these same people were the ones that cooed over that papier-mâché ash tray you made in fifth grade. If you take any one thing away from this article, please let it be this: once it’s out, there’s no going back. Yep, you’re stuck with it. Sure, you can revise it later on, but by then, the damage has been done and the reviews on your Amazon page may just follow you forever.
When Is Copyediting Necessary?
If you expect your book to be purchased and read by anyone besides family and friends, you should consider copyediting a prerequisite to selling your book. Why? One word—<channel your own Aretha here> R.E.S.P.E.C.T.
- Respect for your time and effort.
- Respect for the reader.
- Respect for the publishing industry as a whole.
Consider the necessary editorial work as Step One of your marketing campaign. Good Quality Product. CHECK! You owe it to yourself and the reader to do all that you can to put the very best product on the market. The last thing you want is to find out embarrassing mistakes after the book has been printed and the marketing campaign is in full force.
Shouldn’t I Know This Stuff?
In its printed form, The Chicago Manual of Style, 16e, has 905 pages (without the Index and Bibliography), including over 20 pages regarding solely the treatment of commas, colons, and semi-colons. In short—No, you are not expected to know all there is to know about the English language. It’s your job to write a great book, and it’s your editor’s job to know the best practices of the elusive semi-colon.
A thank you note to one of our editors recently read:
When I received your overview and read the first two paragraphs, I cried for ten minutes. You have no idea what you did for me. No one in the industry would read my MS. I went to two writer's conferences and was told that no one would want to read my story. This was said without reading a synopsis or pitch. I went to learn about writing and to better my fledgling attempts at the craft. Subject matter aside, I just wanted someone to read my work and judge my writing. YOU did that for me!
This is my first effort. I know I have a long way to go and a lot of improving to do. Everything you added or deleted was spot on. Your comments and suggestions were above and beyond. Your praise made my heart swell to bursting. I gave thirteen months of my life to this endeavor. As hard as it was for you to endure the beginning of my book, I can assure you it was harder to endure the recalling and writing of it. I was despondent at the thought my efforts were in vain. YOU validated my work! For that, I'm eternally grateful.
And the author … is a heart surgeon. So, if a doctor needs an editor, odds are you do too.
How Do I Know What I Need?
Of course we know you’re not an editor, so we’ve worked with Infinity Publishing to develop an editorial evaluation designed to provide you with all you need to make an educated decision regarding the editorial services appropriate to your individual title. All of our evaluators are well-schooled in the art of copyediting, have polished countless manuscripts in their time, and are intimately familiar with the grammar rules set forth in the book publishing industry’s foremost style guide, The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition.
I know … it’s still a lot of money to spend. Don’t think about the full amount just yet. Get the editorial evaluation. It’s not a huge investment and may even come bundled in your package. Look carefully at the sample edit and the comments the evaluator has provided. Unfortunately, copyediting takes time, hence the high cost. The average editor edits at a rate of 1750 words per hour with the average manuscript coming in at just over 70,000 words. So, yes, it is a lot of money, but it is worth the approximately 40 hours put in to prepare your book for your perceptive readers.
Marketing services are definitely important, and Infinity has developed wonderful programs designed to help you market your book effectively, but before designing a gung-ho marketing plan, make sure the product itself is worthy of all that you’ve invested in it.
Molly Redenbaugh manages the editioral services team that edits Infinity Publishing titles.
Image courtesy of Cécile Graat.
by John William Myers IV
I am lucky enough to get paid for my hobby. As much as I'd like to say this is for my tennis or scuba diving skills, it is actually more fun than that. I love to edit. In high school and particularly in college I was a decent writer, but I was always getting hammered on mechanics. Rhetoric and writing assignments would have comments from my professor like, "Strong style!" or "Great transition!" but the rest of the document looked like my professor had a paper cut. There were hundreds of sporadic red spots, circles, blobs, dashes, and carets spread over the page like so much spilled blood. In short, I was forced to focus on my mechanics. As I aged, I realized I was never really a talented writer, but the upside was that I was technically proficient. I can't write very well, but I can make my poor writing grammatically correct. This led to my lucking into actually getting paid to use this acquired skill...and I love it. As a junior editor, I don't get to work on Pulitzer nominated manuscripts, and this is actually something I like. I get to work on manuscripts written by a wide variety of people who are just like me. They have a passion for writing, but they may not be very good at it. I think it's a perfect partnership. I did have a manuscript once that was brilliant. I was amazed at how fantastic the writing was, but they had some atrocious grammar issues. I realized that day how the real talent was the writing and that was why people paid me to fix the grammar...like I said, a perfect partnership.
With that background introduction, I'd like to offer a junior editor's key piece of advice for the novice book writer. By far, the most common issue I see with manuscripts is poor initial planning. I probably should have learned this in college, but it took me until grad school to realize that you really need to plan, organize, or even outline your work before starting. Of course, if the muse hits one morning, start writing that introductory paragraph or chapter, but make sure you organize early in the process. You may not necessarily have a "thesis statement" you are supporting, but you need to make sure you have an idea of what you are trying to say and how you will go about saying it. Put yourself in your reader's position and make sure there is a start, middle, and end that transition well and please use chapter headings and even sub-headings. Too many manuscripts come to me that are cut and paste jobs from possibly twenty different articles and each has its own heading/sub-heading style that isn't consistent. This is a major problem and can be alleviated easily. I understand that not every subject can be easily planned. If you are writing a book about Abraham Lincoln it would be natural to organize chronologically. You would naturally start with Abe as a young man, his early political life, his election to President, the Civil War, then end with his death and Southern reconstruction and/or his legacy. This isn't so clear if you are an insurance professional writing a book about how great a universal life policy is to have. Without proper planning and organization, I have seen these books get ridiculously redundant, repetitive and confusing. Even though you may be pulling the majority of your information from previously written articles, it is up to the author to read the manuscript as a whole. I know a manuscript can sometimes take on a life of its own and may morph into something that wasn't originally intended. This is actually good, but do yourself a favor and re-evaluate your organization and make the necessary changes. The body of your work will benefit greatly. So work on your organization, planning, and content but don't pay attention to mechanics. I like my job too much and don't want to run out of assignments. You write. I'll fix.
JOHN MYERS, PRESSQUE’S QUALITY ASSURANCE EDITOR AND PROOFREADER
John has over twenty years of operations, project management, and corporate development experience. Currently, he’s the Director of Business Development/Program Management for CodeLynx, a defense contractor specializing in Physical and Logical Security. Previously, John was the Vice President, Operations for Etix.com, and Intelli-Mark Technologies, an Internet-based technology company utilizing barcode technology. As one of the founding employees of Etix.com, John helped the company grow from five employees in one office to a company with over 3000 clients in sixteen countries with gross revenues in excess of $171 million and offices in the Netherlands, Germany, China, and Japan. In his role, Mr. Myers was responsible for domestic and global operations development, client services, and operational project management. Mr. Myers has a BA in Managerial Economics and German from Hampden-Sydney College, an MBA with distinction from The Citadel and a master’s certificate in Project Management from Boston University. Mr. Myers is a member of Beta Gamma Sigma, International Business Honor Society, and Phi Kappa Phi, Academic Honor Society.