I was once addicted to eating rice. Irrespective of how it is prepared; white rice and stew, fried rice, jellof rice, and even MTN rice😂. In fact, everything that got rice in it became my best food.
This continued until I bought a large quantity of rice a few months back. This particular rice had stones in it. It was obvious that the process of de-stoning the rice was poorly carried out, hence, the discomfort I got each time I prepared it. I would have to separate the stones from the rice and most times, it kept stealing its way to my mouth.
My chewing experience was awful.
With this, my love for rice started diminishing and today, I can stay for two weeks without eating rice.
This same way, a lot of readers have given up on reading self-published books because a lot of books have got lots of errors in them. These errors make the reading experience of readers so boring and unpleasant that the thought of passing through such again makes them avoid books.
I have had a good number of up and coming authors question certain types of professional editing and its importance in book writing and publishing. Most times, due to lack of proper clarification, they decide to skip the editing process.
Having edited over ten books and hundreds of articles, I have come to understand that the process of editing is way more than what its name implies. It is a process that begins from the author’s inner editor to the professional editor’s standard touch. Unfortunately, most authors ignore the latter and trust the ability of the former.
For one to understand editing, he/she needs to bear in mind its art, types, and techniques. Understanding these three basics of the profession gives you an edge as an author. It is sad to know that a lot of authors, having hired some editors, do not know that their manuscript actually passed through just the final stage of editing which is proofreading.
When a manuscript reaches my desk, the first thing I do is to run a technical check on it before placing a charge for my services. This helps me ascertain the level of editing needed to ensure that that particular book project meets professional standards.
When a job is marked for substantive or developmental editing, such job passes through the four stages of editing; developmental editing, line editing, copy editing, and proofreading.
Sadly enough, a lot of authors rush their book project and expect the editor to fix their mess. I once got a job from a prospect sometime in February. The manuscript had poorly-written content and lacked coherence. In fact, accepting to work on the manuscript implied writing the draft afresh.
When I explained to the author, he remarked: “I thought editors work on the manuscript and make it worth standard”. Oh yes, we do. It is true that editors refine your piece but in situations where such a job requires re-writing, I had no other option than to politely decline the job. This means that before you start writing a book, ensure you know the basics of exceptional writing. I talked about it in my third book, WTPB.
While developmental editing ensures the coherence of ideas and excellent structuring of the entire project, line editing ensures that each sentence in every paragraph is well placed and related.
Copy editing ensures the right usage of words, identification of writing style, and adherence to the language variety used in the course of writing. In case you don’t know, the English Language has varieties and they do not only differ in pronunciation but also in grammar, vocabulary, and spelling. It might interest you to know that we in Nigeria make use of British English because we were once colonized by Britain. No wonder we find differences in words like:
British English American English
And finally, proofreading is done to ensure that your manuscript is error-free and ready for publishing.
It is sad that to know that rice has returned to the norm of being cooked only on Sundays. That was against the ‘me’ that ate it almost every day some months back.
This same way, your negligence to this essential aspect of book writing and publishing can drive a lot of readers into losing the zeal to read books. As usual, killing one’s intellectual zeal is as good as not writing any book with your name on it. You are smearing your personal brand too.
If you must write a book, write a good book that will stand the test of time.
I am already making this article longer than I expected. Having mastered the art, science, and business of editing, it wouldn’t be wrong if I continue writing this piece until it becomes a book.
Nurture the process if you want to get excellent results. If you must be an author, be a super author of a good book(s).
To your continued success,
© Okoye Ijeoma Dicta