The Edit

The Edit


So you’ve finished rewriting your book and you’ve had an appraisal. Now it’s time to get some more help. In this post, we look at the edit.

Is it time for The Edit? Have you written the best version of your manuscript possible? Have you made it as good as you can? Then the answer is, yes. You are ready to approach an editor.

A while ago, I wrote a post about 5 Things That Happen After You’ve Typed THE END, and since then I’ve received many questions about all the steps and processes. I thought it may be worthwhile to explore each step in a little more detail. In previous posts, we covered Step 1: The Final Draft And RewritingStep 2: The Appraisal In this post, we look at Step 3: The Edit

One thing that struck me while I was doing the research for this post was the variety of definitions, processes, offerings, and qualifications involved in the editing process. Make sure, before you engage the services of an editor, that you know what you will be receiving in return. Everyone seems to have a very specialised or nuanced offering. You can read more about the different kinds of edits here, but make sure to do your research.

That said, I am not an editor and I decided it would be helpful to ask an editor about the process. Our guest post today is by Lia Marus. She works as an editor and has shared her thoughts about her process with us below.

The Edit

“The Editing Process

As a writer, you pour your heart and soul into your work. Whatever you write, the work becomes your baby. And, just as a mother would do anything to protect her children, you are equally protective of your writing.

Although the editing process may seem like it’s a secret assassination plot to try and kill your babies, the editing process is nothing like this at all. It’s understandable that you think of it in this way, what with the fierce red deletions and insertions that track changes.

Why You Need An Editor

In fact, the editing process is a necessary one. As the author, you’ve engaged with your piece many, many times before. You’ve read it and re-read it, so much so that you’re probably able to recite certain passages.

While you may think that the writing is on point and that you simply need to pay attention while reading, you won’t read every word, because you’re so familiar with your text. What’s really happening is that you’re skimming it and your brain is filling in what it thinks ‘should’ be there.

The editor is a fresh pair of eyes who can look at your piece and spot areas that need improvement. These language professionals will also be able to pick up areas which need clarification or spot a mistake that you didn’t even know was there.

In this article, I’m going to give you a couple of tips to get you started. In addition, I will share some tips, which will help you choose and work with an editor.

The Different Forms Of Editing

First up, what you need to know is that there are different types of editing. And, unfortunately, what I’ve found is that editors use a lot of different terms to describe these processes. So, rather than saying that you need something ‘edited’, rather describe what you need to be done. Then, the editor will be able to figure out what type of editing you need.

There are two different categories of editing:

1. Developmental Editing

In this type of editing, which can also be called substantive editing, the editor will either work with you as you write your book or work with you on your final draft. During the developmental editing process, the editor will help you to flesh out the content of your piece. For example, if you are writing a novel and don’t explain an association clearly, the editor will pick up on this and will make suggestions about how you could improve what you’re trying to say.

2. Proofreading

This is the technical side of editing. Here, the editor is just picking up grammatical, punctuation, and typo issues. For example, if you haven’t used a comma in the correct place, or have substituted a semi-colon for a full stop, they will correct these. If you’re not sure what they offer rather err on the side of caution and ask.

How To Work With An Editor

When you’ve decided that you’re ready for an editor, there are several ways you can make sure you get the best out of your relationship with them.

1. Give them a proper brief.

The quality of the edit will be decided by how well you brief the editor.

  • If you’re writing a book, what is it about and who is it for?
  • If you’re writing a blog post or a piece of corporate writing, you need to brief the editor about the intended audience.

This type of information is needed to  shape how the editor performs their role. So, if the piece is destined for an academic journal, the editor will know that the tone needs to be formal and written in third person. However, if the writing is intended for a company’s blog, the tone will be chatty and written in first person.

2. Encourage open lines of communication.

To ensure that the edited product is the best that it can be, encourage the editor to drop you a line by email or WhatsApp if they have any queries about the text.

When you get the text back, carefully examine it and don’t just ‘accept’ all the changes. Pay particular attention to the comment boxes. This is very important as the editor will make their suggestions about stylistic amendments there.

If you’re not 100% happy with their suggestions and want to make changes and resubmit, don’t be shy in terms of sending this back. However, if you want to do this, double-check how many resubmissions are included before you submit the work. This will influence the cost and timeframe.

3. Be upfront with deliverables for the edit.

This ties in with the brief. At the beginning of the project, ensure you tell the editor exactly what you’re expecting of them. This will enable them to work out their quotes accordingly. And if the price they quote is higher than you expect, don’t reject it outright simply because you feel that it’s too expensive.

If it doesn’t suit your budget, rather tell the editor and ask them if they offer a payment plan. This will show them you really value their services and that you have come to them specifically. They will be more than willing to meet you halfway.

The editing process is not something to be scared of. It is a chance for you to work with a language expert who will make suggestions that will get your work onto that bestseller list.”

by Lia Marus.

Lia Marus is the CEO of LM Language Service and has over 10 years of experience as an editor, writer, and proofreader. She has a BA in National and Foreign Languages (majoring in French, Italian and Linguistics) from UCT. In addition, Lia has an MA in translation and a Post-graduate Diploma in Management from Wits and an LLB from UNISA. She is currently studying towards her PhD in plain language at the University of Johannesburg.

In the next post we will discuss proofreading.

A Creative Life Online: How To Use The Internet As A Creative Tool by Mia Botha

Buy Mia’s book on how to write short stories: Write the crap out of it and other short story writing advice

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  6. Why You Should Do Short Story Writing Exercises
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LOOK: If you want to learn how to write a book, sign up for our online course.