Myths and Truths About Book Editing

Of all the parts of self-publishing that authors should get help with, editing will be your first priority. You don’t have to pay a professional editor, but you do need your book looked at by someone who can be dispassionate and knows their way around a style guide such as the Chicago Manual of Style or the AP Stylebook. This well-written article explores the common myths and the key truths about book editing and editors. Use a wise eye and a cool head to glean what it offers.

Source: 7 Deadly Myths and 3 Inspired Truths About Book Editing


Is there a poetry template available somewhere for Word?

I haven’t come across one. Poetry, by its nature, lends itself to create structure and layout, that would defy templatizing. If your poetry is relatively simple and straightforward, break the lines where it feels good to break them. Don’t agonize over punctuation, but use it to give the reader the pacing you think the poem calls for. Exercise your creativity.

Can I continue to edit, improve or add to content I’ve already published?

Yes, you can. Whatever is your creation is yours, that is, yours to copyright. You can continue to add to it, improve and change it indefinitely without impacting your ownership of the work. However, as a practical matter, if readers are buying one version, you risk frustrating them if a week later, there’s a new, improved version available, right?

Adding and improving your written creative works is more the province of blogging or article writing rather than fixing what you’ve done in a book.

How many copy editors do I need?

Depends on how long ago you took English. You probably just need one…one good one.

Do copy editors have specialties? In major publishers, there are typically three types of editors, although every house is different and these roles may all be played by one editor or there may even be additional editors that get involved, depending on the project:

  • Acquisition editors find new writers to publish, working with agents, reviewing manuscripts, staying in close touch with the market and with the publisher’s marketing team to find where the market has holes that need books to fill them.
  • Developmental editors work with contracted authors to make their manuscripts better. Better organized, more compelling, in line with the publisher’s style and the things that make books sell and book readers happy. Some of the most successful literary authors of the past hundred years only got that way because they had a great developmental editor, helping to make their near-great material great.
  • Copy editors also work with manuscripts that are in process toward publication, seeing that spelling, grammar, and style are to standard. If a manuscript is in pretty good shape coming in the door, this may be the only editor who touches it. But the work of the copy editor is essential and invaluable.

Search “copy editing” and “book editing” for sources of editing tools and freelance editors of many colors.

Copy editting…don’t publish without it.

Editor job title on nameplateEffective copy editing removes verbal noise from your manuscript. Great copy editing is invisible and makes you look like a better author. Here’s a good article self-publishers on the promise and pitfalls of doing your own copy editing. Summary? Proceed with caution.


My non-fiction book needs an index. Is there an app for that?

Yes, and it’s called Word. Most Word users probably have not used it to create an index. Access the index feature (in Word 2013) from the References menu. In the Index sub-menu, use Mark Entry to Alt+Shift+X your way through your document, picking the words you want in the Index. Then, click Insert Index, fiddle with the formatting options, click OK and your Index will appear where you want it. What a time saver! Another great reason to develop your text in Word. For more detail, check this EHow article, which also covers Word 2010.

Where can I get answers for grammar and usage questions? It’s been awhile since I took English.

Use the AP Style Book as your general-purpose copy editing resource, online and in book form. I also have the Chicago Manual of Style handy for a second opinion. And there’s lots of help online. Search “English grammar and style.”

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