Now — let me backtrack a step. I assume you read my first post in the series, Covers, and re-did your cover ASAP. Now your reader is impressed and has allowed you to show them the next step: the content.
Before we continue there’s logic to the title of this series. It suggests a few things, but it’s not about your potential reader finding your book through a personal recommendation — in that case you don’t need to read this series. Your book works!
This series assumes your potential reader has found you because:
- they noticed a Facebook/Twitter conversation about your book;
- they saw your book advertised on a blog/website; or
- they were randomly perusing the list of books on sale at a store.
They are intrigued. However, they know nothing about the quality of your book. In order to impress your readers, there are a few teeeny little editing issues you must execute well:
1. Front Matter — Copyright page
This is a necessary page in any book — fiction, non-fiction or another type of publication. A page with quotes and praises is nice but not necessary, so are other superfluous content.
Some readers may not notice little errors but writers do, and if you stuff it up enough, any reader with an IQ above 85 will realise you’re an amateur.
Immediate thought? If they can’t get this “simple” stuff right, how can I trust them to write a good book?
A professional-looking copyright has these features:
- Something very similar to Copyright © 2012 by Rebecca Berto (but other variations are okay);
- First publication of the work such as Published in Australia by Rebecca Berto in (June) 2012;
- [For fiction] The characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author;
- The location of printing (books)/producing (eBooks) such as This eBook produced by Rebecca Berto Press, Melbourne, Australia;
- ISBN; and
- The reservation of rights such as All rights reserved. No parts of this book may be reproduced, scanned, electronically shared or uploaded without the permission of the publisher.
I’m just sayin’. Miss out on this and you’re already losing points for professionalism.
2. Structural/developmental edit [for fiction]
I’ve mentioned this briefly before. I will do it now. And later on.
Your book needs story editing. This means either you hire a professional structural/developmental editor or you use the kindness of writers and readers who will critique and advise you of the following:
- Characters: need believable motivations for all decisions that affect plot, especially for important events; need to be empathised with and relatable (note I did NOT say likable. This is amateur. Who liked Professor Snape in Harry Potter books 1-5? Not me!); and they need to be 3D by ensuring they have legitimate and related wants (what they think they need), needs (what they actually need to achieve to get their goal) and a story arc where they change and learn something.
Plot: you need the three-act structure, meaning you have features such as hook/inciting incident, first plot point, midpoint, second plot point, and climax (read more about this here); and you need to moderate pacing which means high-action scenes are mixed with lower-action scenes and they are all high in conflict that grab the reader more so as they reach the climax.
- Theme/resolute message: your book needs to be written for a message that backs up the plot; you need a theme, one-sentence explanation, and ideas of what your story is really about (think of this as your characters and plot are chucked into the story to bring this theme/resolute message to “fruition”).
3. Copy/line edit (+ proofread to eliminate errors)
Ideally a copy/line edit will ensure consistency, clarity, and conciseness of sentences, but a proofread should always be done after the copy/line edit to pick up any typos or missed errors.
This stage differs from the story edit regarding a “DIY”, low-cost approach. A strict observation of grammar and spelling rules is needed and readers don’t have the skills necessary and neither do most writers. Therefore I strongly suggest you hire a copy editor to rectify the following issues:
- Redundancies: E.g. 1 not the
big, strong, tall manbut the “hulking man” (choose the best-fitted adjective over many sort-of-fitted words). E.g. 2 not my own bookbut “my book” (“my” says the book is yours; adding “own” suggests your reader is too dumb to figure out the former explanation).
- Conciseness: E.g. not
this was when it all seemed to end for the little girl who was only naïve, but “it seemed to end for the naïve girl.”
- Length: E.g. replacing three long sentences each of 25 words to two, twenty-word sentences followed up by a three-word sentence fragment.
- And other sentence- and grammatical-errors such as: subject-verb agreement; correct forms of verbs; dangling, squinting, and misplaced modifiers, tense, run-on sentences, parallel constructions where intended, coordination and subordination where necessary, etc.
4. BONUS TIP:
First paragraphs of a book, chapter and after a line break are always hard-up against the margin. [Click Amazon preview for proof and scroll to the first sentence] Here’s this in Twilight, a modern bestseller; and here is this in the classic that inspired Twilight, Pride & Prejudice.
I hope you are enjoying this series. I have an idea for the third — and perhaps final — part in the series, but what do you want to see me blog about in “I want to buy your book but–“?
Q: * What do you think about the editing needs for a book? *
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