(PAKKA editing services of manuscripts will comprise the following steps: Most steps are available separately.)1. CRITIQUE/DEVELOPMENTAL EDIT
You’ve finally finished your manuscript, so what happens next? Professional editing? Not so fast. Has an independent third party assessed your manuscript yet?
Once you’re completely confident and you think your manuscript is ready for a professional edit, we advise you to get a critique or evaluation of your work. This may be by a friend familiar with the publishing world or a professional editor. (Avoid friends and relatives with good intentions but poor skills.)
The manuscript critique (MC) is a general assessment of your manuscript. It’s a bird’s-eye view of your entire story. The editor will examine the overall story during this critique, focusing on the plot, characters and pacing.
You’ll receive feedback on character development, points of view (main and shifting), perspectives, characters’ voices, plot, overall theme, consistency, authenticity, believability and any general weaknesses within the story.
An MC is an entry-level edit. It’s where your editor looks at your overall manuscript and points out areas that need tightening and cohesion. You’ll also get advice on how to improve your story.
Some points the evaluator will look at (but are not necessarily limited to):
• inconsistencies in pacing, storyline, character voices and so on
• how to strengthen themes
• wavering narrative voice(s) and suggestions for alternatives (if any)
• plot reconstruction to improve the narrative
• missed opportunities to develop characters
• areas in the story that are weak with advice for strengthening
• areas that impede the flow of the story that should be eliminated
An MC isn’t a directive. They are suggestions for you to accept or reject. If you have questions, follow up. Your editor will be happy to clarify or give further directions.
You may meet the editor face to face (depending on your location), over Zoom or via email.2. STRUCTURAL EDIT
(Also called the manuscript critique or the like.) A professional editor will review your manuscript to assess structure, flow, completeness and overall quality. The editor may provide a short memo summarising the key points, areas of concern and suggestions for your manuscript.
The editor marks up your manuscript in detail, raising any structural concerns or questions they have. They will not focus on the finer points of your writing at this stage but instead on the big picture, examining the overall structure and logic of the novel and its characters and recommending/suggesting changes or additions or deletions for approval and action by the author. (Example: if some parts are unclear, the author will be asked for clarifications and may be required to rewrite, rephrase or change them completely.)
A structural editor is like an architect who helps you build a house (the book) and advises you which rooms (chapters) go where.
3. CONTENT EDIT
While structural edits look at big-picture issues, content edits start to dig into the words on the page.
The content editor reads and edits the manuscript with an eye on the completeness, comprehension, flow and construction of ideas and stories, working paragraph by paragraph and chapter by chapter.
A content editor will provide a paragraph-level set of markups on your manuscript, offering corrections, and fact checks, pointing out incomplete sections and inconsistencies, and providing advice on smoothing the flow and construction of your chapters, sections and subsections.
A key focus of a content edit will be the tone and voice of your manuscript. A content editor must be aware of your target audience to ensure your content (style) is a good fit for that audience and that the writing has your voice (and is true to the voices of the character.) (Example: a Malay farmer will not speak in American slang.)
A content editor will not move your chapters around, but they will move sections or paragraphs around within your branches, move content to different chapters or delete the content entirely.
A content editor will help you arrange the furniture (sections and paragraphs) inside those rooms (suggested by the structural editor above) in a pleasing way.
But, unlike a line editor, they’ll not advise you on soft furnishing (sentences) yet.
(Some editing services prefer to copyedit after the line edit, but we prefer the copyedit to come first; copyediting has more to do with proper language use, while the line editor may like to bend some rules.)
(Copyediting is done on a completed manuscript, not a work in progress.) A copyeditor will meticulously review your work and find spelling, punctuation and grammatical mistakes. (No matter how confident the author is of the manuscript, there will be a few mistakes here and there.)
Reading aloud (which all authors must do) is a good way of catching sentence, phrase and word mistakes. Still, copyeditors also search for minor errors and obscure grammatical rules and check for compliance with appropriate style guides.
Don’t assume your neighbour, relative or friend reading through your manuscript is enough to find all the spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes unless that person is a professional copyeditor who can style your book correctly.
The types of mistakes copyeditors catch aren’t fatal, but it’s the difference between a professional book and one by an amateur. Copyediting is the thorough language editing of the manuscript (mss) based on current international norms.
5. LINE (or STYLE) EDIT.
A line editor reviews your manuscript line-by-line (unlike earlier editors who worked on your manuscript at the macro level – the entire book, the chapter and paragraph levels – the line editor jumps right into the manuscript to provide the most detailed edit. A great line editor’s job is to make your prose sing, but if your content has problems, it won’t help. (Editing can make a good story great but cannot support a poorly structured one.)
That’s why we prefer to line edit towards the end. The line editor’s job is like weeding a lawn, not looking at the layout of the whole garden. They’ll focus on word choice, the economy of words and whether each sentence and phrase has the intended impact (not too wordy or brief). In a word, ‘stylish’.
They have to be aware of your book’s flow, but they’re more concerned with how each word in a sentence interacts with the others and how sentences flow into each other.
Line editors point out run-on sentences, sentence fragments and clichés. They help you clarify meaning, eliminate jargon and ensure that each sentence sounds right in the reader’s mind.
They will point out wordiness, suggest ways to tighten your sentences and help you say in five words what you said in fifteen. (Or how not to use three words when one or two will do.) They focus on making your work muscular by removing excess body fat.)
A line editor is concerned about the words you use to communicate with your reader. They want to make your writing short, simple and concise — the hallmark of excellent writing.
‘Copyediting’ and ‘proofreading’ are often used interchangeably but describe different processes.
A proofreader takes the first printed version of your book after it’s been designed and formatted (called the ‘proof’) and gives it a final review before it goes to print. It comes right before publication; proofreading is the last defence against mistakes.
Like a copyeditor, a proofreader looks for typos and misplaced punctuation but additionally searches for layout issues like page numbering, consistency with headings, placement of tables of figures in the text, foul lines or page breaks and more.
A proofreader won’t fix your content; just correct errors.
Proofreading before publication is essential, even if the writing is meant only to live online. (Even for an email!)
Copyeditors and proofreaders do two different but equally essential jobs that two persons best do.
7. IMPORTANT NOTE:
The author’s active participation during editing is essential and expected. The author may reject or ignore some suggestions and advice by the editor for their reasons, but the risks of such actions will be entirely the author. Some may be minor, but others could be more serious.