Finally, after a year and a half of grappling with editing, I think I just about have it sussed! I have to share with you my findings because I am sure a lot of other writers struggle with this too. Obviously, once you have a manuscript you know it will need editing so you start with the content, changing the odd grammatical error here and there as you go. However if like me you needed to edit your entire manuscript six times for content before you felt you had a finished product by the end of that process you have had enough of your baby crying. When someone says they will copy-edit for you, you almost bite their hand off. Please take this screaming baby away for a while and give me a break!
There are three types of editing light, medium and heavy and within those contexts, there is also substantive and mechanical. Substantive refers to the order of content and could be construed as heavy editing as it will also edit out content that is not relevant. Mechanical editing is relating to grammar, punctuation, spelling and footnotes. When using a publisher they may well have an in-house editor that will mechanically edit your manuscript to fit their style of print and product.
There are many programmes that you can run on your computer to edit your grammar and punctuation but they might not all understand your content. For example, my novel starts out in Southend on Sea in Essex, England. I’m afraid there ain’t a product out there that’s gonna give me the license I need to mess ’bout with words and get really lairy with my content. So using a person surely makes sense? Maybe if you live in exactly the place you want the manuscript read or based. Otherwise, you have to make do with a few proofreaders and hope they understand your spoken language vs readability vs message.
My problem with clients is that I am in love with language and people’s nuances I love an accent and even better I love broken words and out-of-place context. Perhaps I am destined to always be a light editor! I am just not critical enough I love everyone’s speech. Although I have today for the first time gone through my manuscript and seen the errors, every single one of them! Is it because I have a printer ready to go? Or is it because I have relaxed and realised everything will come in time and I’m allowed to make mistakes? I guess the test will be when I next look at my client’s work, will I see the errors or only hear the voice?
The most fantastic thing is that my printed copy will be the best I can possibly produce and I now know exactly the process I need to go through with book two. I will edit content first, a heavy substantive edit followed by a light substantive edit and then two or three mechanical edits. Nothing is ever perfect and when I found an error in Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s I have to admit to a tiny feeling of elation. However as I tell my children we can only do our best and then we can learn, improve and do even better!
My book can be downloaded at these websites