by Barbara McNichol
Recently, an author and I settled in to have our project-finalizing conversation before starting to edit her manuscript. Price determined. Timelines set. Anticipation high. Before we signed off, she asked with gentleness and genuine interest, “How can I be a good editing client for you, Barbara?”
Quite frankly, this question blew me away—largely because no one had asked it before in my two decades of editing books! Deep inside, my playful side wanted to answer, “Well, accept everything I change, write a glowing testimonial, pay me extremely well, and send me loads of great referrals, too.” But instead, I curbed my enthusiasm and quietly said, “Simply be available to answer my questions during the editing process.” An okay answer . . . well, really kinda lame. Because upon further reflection, I came up with these 7 ways to help turn any book-editing project into an ideal process—for both me and the authors I love to work with.
Ideal Process Point #1: Have a focused understanding of your book’s “reason to be”—that means knowing what this book will do for your readers, for you, and for your business (e.g., solve a problem, provide a new stream of income, open doors to a new niche, etc.). When your goals and overall dream for your book are stated upfront, I can better ensure the writing hits the mark.
Ideal Process Point #2: Have a feel for what to expect throughout the editing process (e.g., Does the manuscript go through one, two, or three editing reviews for the stated project fee? Is proofreading included? Do you want it to come before the layout stage or after?)
Ideal Process Point #3: Early on, communicate any sense of urgency (e.g., book must ready for an upcoming conference). Planning for tight timelines affects priorities and avoids a “push” that adds crazymaking—and the potential for errors.
Ideal Process Point #4: Understand the level of editing desired—ranging from proofreading to minor edits to major rewrites. Doing a Sample Edit (editing 3 to 10 pages of your manuscript) helps both author and editor assess the level required.
Ideal Process Point #5: In reference to #4, take heed when the editor advises a “deep massage” rather than a “fluff-and-buff” approach to editing the chapters. In my experience, authors appreciate the “deep” treatment when it’s needed to clarify and strengthen their writing so readers can readily understand what you want to say.
Ideal Process Point #6: Hold off making copious changes and additions once the editing process gets underway. Integrating the “new” with the “old” can increase time, expense, and frustration, so make your content as complete as possible from the get-go.
Ideal Process Point #7: Send red roses when all is said and done—just kidding (although it’s happened J). Like most editors, I appreciate receiving a signed copy of the printed book, a testimonial that reflects the benefits of our work together, and a willingness to refer my services to other authors.
Most of all, I appreciate it when the process runs smoothly and we can both reap the rewards of being “good clients” for each other.