On completion of your edit, will my manuscript be ready for publication?

26 Feb
On completion of your edit, will my manuscript be ready for publication?
I was asked this question by a prospective client recently, and it seemed like a good opportunity to share the answer with the wider world.
So, if you send your novel or non-fiction book.article or chapter to your editor for copyediting (fiction writers might know this as line editing), is it going to be ready for publication once they have gone through it?
Well, to be honest, probably not. What you will receive from your editor is a document marked up with suggested changes and comments. You will need to go through all of these and undoubtedly action some comments or questions that they’ve given.

Going through your editor’s comments

Once your editor has gone through your document, it will come back with a range of different comments and suggestions.
To break these down, they might include all of some of the following:
  • Vital textual changes – you will need to go through these but will probably accept most of them – they will be based on grammatical, punctuation etc. rules, or will be picking up typos.
  • Suggested textual changes – Your editor should be striving to retain your ‘voice’ and to help you get across your points, ideas or story, and they might well suggest rearrangements of sentences, changes in word choices, etc. Some of these you might not accept, for example I have a client who doesn’t like semi colons, so I know they will reject any I add (of course I just don’t add them now!). Some might be a matter of style but will make the piece consistent (e.g. use of capitalisation and hyphens which is often inconsistent in texts I work on).
  • Style sheet questions – your editor should send you the style sheet they’ve built up while editing your work, which will list all of the choices that they’ve made (where there’s a choice to be made) in a separate document, alongside any terminology that they’ve made consistent, etc. This might, however, include questions – for example, if you have used “the chapter” and “the article” interchangeably and an equal number of times in your short piece, your editor might not know what its eventual destination is, and might leave a question in the style sheet for you to answer (that’s how I do it) – then you will need to make that terminology consistent
  • Comments and questions – there will be points at which your editor may suggest, for example, moving a section to a different chapter, saying something in a different way to make it more clear, or even marking a section that they find unclear and then suggesting that you rewrite it. You will then need to action those points yourself, moving or rewriting sections as necessary.

What happens next?

Once that’s all done, if you haven’t done so before, I suggest that you get some people to beta-read the book to give you their reactions and suggestions to the content, now that consistencies and the most obvious issues have been ironed out. You may need to do a bit of rewriting on the basis of their comments.
If the rewriting is substantial, it’s a good idea to have your editor look over either the whole document or just the sections that have been changed (I usually ask my clients to highlight the bits they want me to check in the whole document, so I can see where they sit in the work as a whole). And then you will need to go through the above process again.
Once that’s done, before you publish the manuscript, you will need to have it proofread to check that no additional errors have crept in and to ensure that it’s going to look good in publication (if you’re doing a print book, the proofreader will need to see a pdf of the final version, if an e-book, a Word document is often OK). This person shouldn’t be the original editor, because they would be too close to the contents, and you should send them your editor’s style sheet so that they know how certain things should be and don’t waste time changing them to their preference.

Once the proofreader’s comments come back, it would be very unusual if you didn’t have something to change. So, you will need to make those changes – and this might affect your book design, so you might have to have your book designer look over the whole thing again.

Then you might just be able to consider it ready for publication!

Related articles on this blog

Do I need editing or proofreading?

Dealing with Track Changes in a document

My work is being proofread – why do I need to use Spell Check?


Posted by on February 26, 2015 in Copyediting, proofreading, Word, Writing


Tags: , ,

16 responses to “On completion of your edit, will my manuscript be ready for publication?

  1. Jennifer Gilbreath

    February 26, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    Reblogged this on Red Ink Ramblings and commented:
    This is a great reference for those who have written a book and want to know what they should be looking for in an editor and expect from the editorial process. It also answers the question, “So you, like, just check grammar and stuff in books?” (Which I hear all too often.)


  2. Jennifer Gilbreath

    February 26, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    This was a very informative piece, so much so that I had to reblog it! Thanks for sharing.


    • Liz Dexter

      February 26, 2015 at 6:38 pm

      Thank you for the reblog! I have more on proofreading and editing and dealing with Track changes linked to at the bottom of the post, and a few more posts on the process coming up, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Eva Blaskovic (@BlaskovicWriter)

    February 26, 2015 at 7:08 pm

    Excellent, Liz. You’ve hit all the important aspects. This article helps both authors and editors. Authors are informed as to what to expect, and editors can use it to inform authors.


    • Liz Dexter

      February 26, 2015 at 7:13 pm

      Thank you, Eva – that’s what I set out to do! And thank you for sharing it, too.


  4. Eva Blaskovic

    February 26, 2015 at 7:27 pm

    Reblogged this on Beyond the Precipice and commented:
    Liz Dexter beautifully explains what authors can expect once their manuscript has been professionally edited.

    Re-blogged from the original article, “On completion of your edit, will my manuscript be ready for publication?”


  5. D.G.Kaye

    March 4, 2015 at 9:16 pm

    Great, concise reference what happens after editing.


    • Liz Dexter

      March 5, 2015 at 8:04 am

      Thank you for your comment and I’m glad it’s doing its job!

      Liked by 1 person

      • D.G.Kaye

        March 5, 2015 at 3:15 pm

        Love your articles. Always happy to share and help others. πŸ™‚


  6. kalynnbayron

    October 25, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    Reblogged this on Kalynn Bayron.



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