I’m often asked how it is that I manage to write so much in such a short time. The key word here is ‘process’ – and when it comes to process, one of the biggest time pay-offs is editing. It’s a process, like any other – and a system can pay dividends.
1. Content editing. This is what a lot of people think of as ‘editing’. It is also known as ‘crafting’ or ‘polishing’. It’s about content – it’s about what’s being said, about the wording, and about the structure. It’s what the author does to go from that archetypal bad first draft to the final that’s submitted to the publisher.
2. Proof editing. This process is essential to any finished book. It’s the first process applied by a commercial publisher to a manuscript being readied for publishing. It involves having an independent editor read the manuscript and amend it for consistency and sometimes tone. It’s an essential part of the quality assurance process. Familiarity breeds contempt, so if you’re self-publishing, consider finding a proof-editor to cast that “fresh pair of eyes” across the manuscript.
3. Line editing. After all changes have been implemented – including any last fixes from the author – the proof-edited manuscript is line-edited for ‘literals’. These are literal typographic errors, consistency of double or single quote marks, getting the right sorts of dashes – hyphen, em or en – and so forth. It is a mechanical task but essential for quality control. Although cost constraints have strangled a lot of the old trad processes, most publishers do this at least twice – once before the MS is typeset, once afterwards.
All these processes are quite different, and line editing – particularly – is systematic. Over the next few weeks I’ll be visiting each of them in detail. Watch this space.
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2014