Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Editing and Proofreading

As the writing of the book continues to progress (well past the half way mark now) I am continuing to think about some of the other aspects of producing a book other than the writing.

You'll recall last time I talked about cover art and categories. Today I am thinking about proofreading and editing.

It is generally accepted that books need to be proofread by someone other than the author. I didn't take this seriously when I put my first book out, I considered I could do it myself. I was wrong. The end result was a first draft that went out riddled with errors.

Fortunately I was able to pick up on this and get it cleaned up relatively easily and reloaded back on to Amazon. It wasn't as if there were thousands of paperbacks full of mistakes sat on shelves across the country. Even so, it was a lesson learned.

Since then I have been really careful with everything I have done and checked and re-checked. Last month when I spoke to my editor at the Oxford Mail he said that they had never found a single grammatical error in any of the columns I had submitted to them, which I felt was something to be proud of. As far as I could see they had never edited any of them either. However - proofreading a 500 word column each week compared to proofreading a 50,000 word novel is a completely different kettle of fish. A 100x bigger kettle of fish if we want to talk numbers.

So this novel is going to require some professional proofreading. How much is this going to cost? Well, looking around at websites it appears to be quite expensive. Many quote per number of words. For example one I looked at locally wanted £8.50 per 1,000 words which mounts up for a 50,000 word novel.

Personally I think charging by number of words is pretty harsh. After all, some books are going to need a lot more proofreading than others. I am not going to pretend that mine won't have errors in it but I am experienced enough now as a writer to know that it will only be a handful, and I will proofread it myself before I give it to anybody. Compare that to someone who sends in a novel riddled with grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. Surely that's more work for a proofreader, isn't it?

Who knows. Perhaps I shall get lucky and someone who reads this blog has a past life as a proofreader and may offer to do me some sort of deal. I was lucky enough to find someone for my cover art the same way, so who knows?

There is also the question of editing which is not the same thing as proofreading. Editing is more a case of going through the manuscript and checking for inconsistencies, making sure the work flows properly and that sort of thing. For example, it might be that two scenes might work better for plot development if they came in a different order. Some dialogue may need tweaking. This is the sort of job which in television terms is knows as a Script Editor. For example, if I were to land the dream job of script editor on Doctor Who I'd need to be familiar enough with the history of the show to ensure a new writer's script didn't contradict established Doctor Who history. And there is a lot of that. I'd love that job, by the way.

I don't think my book requires an awful lot of editing, but then I could be wrong about that too. So I shall definitely be looking further into the possibility of paying for some sort of editing service.

So that's proofreading and editing. Next time I want to talk about marketing which includes facebook, websites, twitter and more.

Jason

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