To Edit or Not to Edit?

Recently I triggered a seemingly unstoppable discussion on LinkedIn by asking writers if they would pay for editorial services and, if so, how much they would pay. Writers and editors weighed in with both yea and nay responses, various analyses of pricing, and the chasms into which writers fall when hiring an editor. Opinions ranged from one extreme to the other: either writers who fail to work with professional editors are doomed, or writers don’t need editors if they learn to edit for themselves. A writer wading through such a swamp might wonder who, if anyone, is right. Reality The reality lies in the middle. We all self-edit, and publishers edit even the greatest authors. That’s just how it works, or at least how it used to work in the age of traditional publishing. Today’s world of print-on-demand, self-publishing, and ebooks has rung a few changes on the old formula. While the traditional route is still available, it has become so easy to publish a book that everyone with a keyboard and half an idea has jumped into the business. It’s now possible for a writer to spring straight from rough draft to published work without a single edit. Is that a good thing? Absolutely not. Very few of us get everything right first time, every time. An unedited work usually reads like an unedited work, littered with typos, grammatical mistakes, and structural weaknesses. Readers seldom notice good editing, but they sure notice sloppiness and poor writing. As a writer, your byline is your brand, and you don’t want your brand associated with poor quality. Poor quality loses customers. Essential So editing is essential. The question is how to approach it, and the answer is not very different from what it used to be. First, self-edit. Check for spelling and grammatical errors, for poor organization, pacing problems, plot issues,...

Use Industry Standard Non-Fiction Book Elements

As a self publisher, you need to meet industry standards in order to get your book recognized. Thousands of books are published every day. This means you have lots of competition. If your book appears to be sub-standard, missing elements that are required by the publishing industry, you won’t get very far in publishing. I have seen the forums for self publishers where some authors argue that these elements are not really required. If you have read that somewhere, do not listen to it. All of the elements that are standard publishing industry are there for a reason. Front Matter Front Matter occurs prior to the core content of the book, and is typically arranged in this order: Title page (contains title & author only) Copyright page Copyright Acknowledgments (for titles containing reprinted / permissioned material) Dedication (if included) Table of Contents Foreword (if included – usually written by someone other than the author describing interaction with the author) Preface (if included – by the author, it  covers the story of how the book came into being, or how the idea for the book was developed) Acknowledgments (if included) Introduction (if included – usually states the purpose and goals of the book.) Go to a bookstore with this list, and note how these elements are included in books. Table of Contents Give special attention to your Table of Contents (TOC). A Table of Contents is critical for any non-fiction or how-to book – it is the map your readers use to navigate your book. Prepare your Table of Contents(TOC) after you finish writing and editing your manuscript. List each part, section, chapter, and headings that you feel are appropriate. Many books list the title of the chapter, plus the primary heads in each chapter. Your manuscript must match the order, context, and titles of the TOC. Body Matter After the...