Edit Sleep Repeat

“Write drunk, edit sober”

These 4 words have always been a companion in my writing journey. When you express your emotions they manifest on paper in the purest form without any filter. You write to understand yourself more. But when you want to publish your book and make it available for readers, your perspective changes. Editing is rewriting a book with a new set of eyes for a target audience other than you.

Irrespective of the kind of publishing method you use, your manuscript isn’t complete before you do at least two rounds of edits.

  1. Take a Break From Your Story.

Before you dive into the world of flaws, corrections, and judgments that are the prerequisites to editing, take a break. Stephen King claims that he keeps his manuscript aside for 6 weeks before he starts editing them. When you distance yourself from your story, you give yourself space to develop a perspective. Your attachment to the story becomes an accessory rather than a dominant feature. Once you have distanced yourself from your story and the characters it becomes easier to trim through the parts that may be close to your heart but don’t serve the purpose of the story.

  1. The bird’s eye view

Start by looking at your story as a whole. Imagine when you take a photograph of a beautiful view with snow-clad mountains, a river flowing through it, camping trailers parked at the shore, and a group of travelers playing music. You want to capture the whole surrounding. Read it aloud and look for structural changes. Ask yourself the theme of your book and whether the story revolves around that theme. Question your purpose as well as the purpose of the story. Is it being conveyed distinctly? This falls under developmental editing where you are being critical about the story, its structure, and the whole purpose.

  • Reference shots

Now imagine when you have to take a picture of the river flowing through a snow-clad mountain only. This part of editing refers to understanding your sub-plots and how they relate to each other. Is there continuity in your plots? Does the continuity serve the purpose of those plots?

  • Zoomed in shots

This is the moment when you zoom in on the group of travelers with their happy faces. Zoom in your story. Focus on characters and their existence. Are they serving their purpose? How are they important with respect to each other? Think what if you delete a character altogether. How will it affect your story?

  • Portrait mode

The final part of editing involves embellishing and copyediting. Focus on statements and words. Remove the conversations that are dragging. Replace words that are repetitive. Check your spelling and grammar. Finally proofread your work for any minor errors.

  1. Check for Accuracy.

If you are writing self-help or a non-fiction book, make sure that the facts that you have mentioned are accurate. Support them with references that can be added in the form of a glossary at the end. It is very important to be credible when you are putting words on paper.

Editing can be a fun thing to do if you shift your mindset from being possessive about your story to be critical. We, humans, are naturally judgemental and when you step back from your own story it becomes easier to be critical and make the necessary changes. Use professional tools like spell check, and grammarly to edit your book. You can also send it to a friend or a volunteer who would be willing to read through your book and help you gain a perspective from a reader’s point of view.

Remember that the book that you finally publish is for the readers. Make it worth their time and energy.

Guide to Publishing Terms

Publishing a book is as challenging as writing it. It is easier when you are aware of the terms that the publishing houses throw at you. Your work is your God and before handing it to someone it is very important that you do your due diligence in understanding the terms used in the publishing industry. 

  • ISBN

ISBN is the most talked about term when it comes to book publishing. A book without an ISBN is like a cake without sugar. ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. It is a unique identifier allotted to every book. Through an ISBN the booksellers can track the sale of your book. Every edition of your book has a different ISBN. The ebook, hardcover and paperback will all have different ISBN. The first 3 digits in an ISBN is known as the prefix element, the next 2 digits indicate the country or geographical region registered in the ISBN system, the next 5 digits helps identify the publisher of the book and the subsequent 2 digits give information on the edition and the book’s format, and the last digit is known as a check digit which validates the ISBN. 

  • Ingram distribution

Ingram is a major book distributor in the United States, distributing to 40,000+ retailers (including Barnes & Noble and your local independent bookstore), libraries, schools, and universities. 

  • Royalty 

Every publishing house promises a Percentage of profit that goes to the author. This percentage is known as royalty. You are entitled to book royalties for as long as mentioned in the agreement you sign with the publishing house. 

  • Copyrights

The ownership of the work is defined as a copyright. Usually in self publishing the copyrights reside with the author. When you have the copyright to your work, you can reproduce it and use it as per your wish. You are not entitled for permission from the publishing house to share your content wherever you wish to. The significance of owning copyrights comes into play when someone wants to make a movie or a web series out of your book. If a situation like this arise, if you hold the copyrights to the book then it is your decision to negotiate for movie making. The profits that come through the movies or web series also solely belong to you. 

  • Print on Demand

Self-publishing industry has initiated the concept of Print on Demand. As the name suggests the books are printed when someone asks for it. For example, your book is listed on amazon. When a customer purchases your book, the seller gets an order and he prints the book. This is usually done to avoid massive losses suffered by publishing agencies when books are printed but dont sell.