The Process of Self-Publishing a Book: Part Two - Emily Owen
The Process of Self-Publishing a Book: Part Two
Starting your publishing journey
So your story has been accepted by a publishing company (hurray!) and you’ve signed a contract with them to turn it into a book – what happens next?
Your publishing company will likely assign one of their in-house publishing assistants to you, who’ll handle your project and be your main point of contact.
The first major step of the self-publishing process will be a professional copy-edit.
A copy-edit is an edit of a text intended for print or publication (or ‘copy’) that checks it for consistency, accuracy and readability.
While the copy-editor ensures the text is correct in terms of spelling, grammar and punctuation, they will also focus on continuity, flow, rhythm, repetition and phrasing. This means they might make wording suggestions where appropriate. They’ll also try to prevent factual errors, which is especially important if, like me, you write historical fiction.
This service can be expensive but it’s worth every penny. By now you’ve probably checked your manuscript so many times that you’ve become blind to any errors, and having it looked over by a professional pair of eyes is invaluable.
A copy-editor’s job is to ensure that your meaning is conveyed as clearly as possible, as well as making sure that the typesetter can do a good job later in the publishing process.
While you can accept or reject every change the copy-editor has made, it’s recommended that you accept the majority of their changes. They are a professional editor, after all.
That said, they are still human and can make mistakes. There have been one or two instances where a copy-editor has queried a factual detail in my books that further investigation showed to be correct. However, such instances are outweighed by the number of cases where the opposite was true.
Where the copy-editor suggests substantial rewrites or adding brand new sections, it’s up to you to determine how these should be written to suit the tone and characters in your story.
Once you’ve addressed all of the copy-editor’s comments, you must return a clean, unmarked version of your manuscript to the publishing company.
A proofread is the final quality control check prior to typesetting. While many typos and inaccuracies will have been removed from your manuscript at the copy-editing stage, fresh errors are likely to have been introduced during rewrites by both you and the copy-editor.
The proofreader will correct basic errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar, as well as ensuring consistent styles of tense, hyphenation and capitalisation.
They will not suggest rewrites, restructuring or substantive editing – the opportunity for this has now passed as it would risk introducing further errors into the text that’d go unnoticed upon publication.
While the copy-editing and proofreading stage can make you want to kick yourself or cringe with embarrassment when you realise you overlooked some obvious mistake, especially if you’re new to the process, remember this isn’t personal.
The copy-editor and proofreader are well-trained professionals who are ultimately trying to help you make your manuscript as good as it possibly can be and avoid scathing reviews.