Preparing your manuscript for printing as a book can be one of the most frustrating parts of the publishing process. If you would like more information about writing and editing, book design, self-publishing, and other information from successful industry professionals, please visit our blog: https://www.ingramspark.com/blog
In writing, as in life, errors happen to everyone. And anyone who has been working on a manuscript for a long time is much less likely to spot grammatical mistakes than a reader approaching the manuscript for the first time. Seek a fresh set of eyes that can identify errors that the writer’s eyes are likely to miss.
Some common errors to avoid include:
- Verb tense: Jump, jumped, jumping, or will jump? Several verb tenses are acceptable depending on what kind of book is being written, but it is essential to keep your verb tense accurate and consistent.
- Apostrophes: Be sure to use apostrophes for contractions and possessives, and use no apostrophe for plurals (e.g. “Don’t eat Mary’s cookies.”) Also, remember that “its” is possessive, while “it’s” is a contraction for it is (e.g. “It’s great when a business honors its values”).
- Misspellings: Keep a dictionary handy. Most publishers use Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th ed. Or use the Internet, if you prefer.
- Sentence fragment: Any sentence that lacks both a subject and a predicate (i.e. an action). For example, “The marathon runner tied his shoes,” is a complete sentence, whereas “The marathon runner,” and “Tied his shoes,” are both sentence fragments.
- Comma splice: When two independent clauses in a sentence are separated by a comma rather than a semicolon or a period. The comma splice is sometimes used in literary writing to convey a particular mood of informality. An example of this would be "It is nearly five o'clock, we cannot reach town before dark."
If any of the terms above sound like gibberish, you should consider enlisting the help of an experienced editor. Feedback from family, friends, and neighbors can be a vital aspect of your manuscript’s development. Professional editors have the skills to find hard-to-spot grammatical errors that most people miss. Don’t underestimate the value of a trained outside perspective!
Click on the following link to read articles about writing and editing your book: https://www.ingramspark.com/blog/topic/writing-and-editing
The best way to get on the same page with a freelance editor is to send her or him a small sample of your manuscript (e.g. 10-20 pages) as a test-drive. This way, you can get a sense of the editor’s style, ask for a cost estimate using the sample as a point of reference, and identify any issues in the feedback before the editor commits to working on the entire manuscript.
Be sure to communicate clearly regarding the variety of edits your manuscript needs. Freelance editing services will typically fall into one of three categories:
COPY EDITING often includes correcting line errors but also addresses formatting issues, fact-checking, and general stylistic consistency.
CONTENT EDITING provides qualitative feedback on the subject matter of a manuscript. In the case of fiction, the editor helps streamline the plot structure, comments on believability, and offers suggestions on various elements of the narrative. For nonfiction, the editor would primarily focus on clarity, flow, and how to most effectively organize the sections of the book. This variety of editing is by far the most intensive and carries the highest price tag.
This stage of the process typically involves a substantial investment of time, but don’t get discouraged! Ultimately, your book will be more polished and easier to read as a result of being thoroughly edited. Try inquiring about local editors at any schools, bookstores, or libraries in your area; you can also try the Chamber of Commerce. IngramSpark offers a list of vetted professionals who can help with editing, design, etc. Please visit the Experts page on our website: https://www.ingramspark.com/resources/experts
PROOFREADING involves weeding out all typos, misspellings, and punctuation errors. It is the least rigorous editing style, and therefore usually the most affordable.