You have been working on your book/short stories/journal/memoirs for what seems like months and years, but now, at long last, it feels as if you are getting near the end. What should you do next?
You may have given your work to friends or family to read, but eventually you need to pass it to a professional editor who will read it with an trained eye. This first step is generally known as a STRUCTURAL EDIT.
This involves looking at the 'big picture' of the book and considering whether the plot and premise works. Maybe sections need adding, rearranging or cutting out in order to make the text flow at the right pace and to keep the reader engaged in your writing.
Writers naturally fear this process. As one of my authors said 'It's like handing your work in at school and waiting for it to come back marked in red pen'. My approach is that this is your book and no editing changes are set in stone. The whole process is one of 2-way discussion between you as the author, and me.
Once the structure and flow of your book is sorted out, you are ready for the COPY-EDIT.
This step looks at the writing in more detail. It basically looks at the 'nuts and bolts' of the text.
A 'style sheet' will be created which will contain all the decisions about formatting, layout, punctuation, and spelling of certain words so that everything is consistent. Also, all the facts about characters, timings and the time-line of the book will be checked. (You don't want your main character to have blue eyes on page 5 and brown eyes on page 20. Nor do you want it to be summer on one page and spring on the next.)
Again, communication needs to continue through this process remembering, as always, that this is your book. Do you want your character to have blue or brown eyes? How do you want the text of your book to look?
This step takes more time than the others, but is crucial in making your book successful.
This is the final stage in preparing your book. The PROOFREAD involves making a final check of the text in minute detail. The spelling, grammar, punctuation, formatting and layout will all be scrutinised again at at this point. This stage is generally about checking that all the decisions made in Step 2 have been carried out, rather than making further decisions.
At the end of this process, your book is ready to present to a publisher or to move on towards self-