Did you write a book during Lockdown?

posted in: copyediting | 1

Do you know what to do with it now or is it sitting there, metaphorically pulling faces at you?

Whether your book is your life story, a novel you’ve been brewing in the back of your mind for years, or a book related to your work, you still have to think about what happens next.

For some, the process of writing a book about their past, or how they came to this place is enough. The catharsis of expressing their thoughts on paper is all that is necessary, and publication is not the intention. If that’s the kind of book-writing that you have done, power to you. I hope it has helped. You can probably stop reading this blog now, as I don’t think there’s anything I can usefully add for you!

Whether you’ve written a novel, or a cookbook, or a book of poetry, or something non-fiction or related to your business, you are probably looking for some kind of publication, even if you’re not expecting it to hit the best seller lists.

A cookbook with family recipes to share with the next generation, or an expanded version of your training materials to pass on to people attending your courses, may not have a huge readership, but having enough printed to share with the people you think will be interested is the plan.

Perhaps you’ve put together a coffee table book with your best photos, or showcasing your finest creations, whether they’re houses, wedding dresses or your Instagram highlights. If this is the case, publication is the next step, for sure. You’ll need to consider whether it’s going to be sold, or given away, how many you think you’ll need, and what purpose it will serve.

For a non-fiction book, whether history or biography, or an analysis of a business topic about which you are an expert, you’ll need to consider publication, and potentially a wider audience. And if you’ve written a novel, then yes, for sure you’ll want to publish.

There are a lot of websites and discussion forums dedicated to helping first time authors achieve publication, either with a publishing house, or self-published, and I’m not going to repeat all their advice. You can easily Google ‘how do I publish a book’.

However, you will probably need some support with your book, whatever shape it is.

Editing and proofreading

Whether you have a book of 100,000 words, or just a paragraph on each page to explain the content of the images, your book will have some words. You’ll have spent time polishing them, copy-and-pasting them around into different configurations, editing, deleting, reworking and shuffling them. Chances are, you’re perhaps a bit fed up with seeing them by now, and you are possibly also a little bit blind as to the precise words now. Would you notice if there were two adjacent ‘the’s in a sentence? Or would your brain skate over the second one, because you’ve read that sentence so many times that you are reading what should be there?

This is where you might need a second pair of eyes!

A proofreader will look through your book for typos, check your grammar, make sure you’re using the right words and punctuation, and tidy up your layout. They are all about the tiny details.

An editor will be able to look through your book and make suggestions about content, will notice that you’ve abandoned a character in mid air near the end of your novel, and suggest you complete a story arc for them. They’ll suggest shifting paragraphs around, or inserting chapter breaks, and ensure your tone is consistent. They will look at the bigger picture.

Many people use an editor first, and a proofreader just before the book is printed, to ensure that everything is perfect. If you decide you need someone else to work on your book before it’s printed, it’ll be your choice about the support you need. Some people can fulfil both functions, either all at once, or on two distinct read-throughs.

My experience as an editor & proofreader covers fiction, non-fiction (autobiography, self-help), children’s books, cookbooks, poetry and professional documents such as annual reports. I don’t judge, and can handle dyslexia. It’s your book, your journey, your ‘baby’, and it is my job to make it something that people will want to read, and can read easily, that’s all.

If you would like to discuss your book, and what might to be done to polish up the words prior to publication, do drop me a line, and we can chat. I look forward to hearing from you.

Client testimonial:

I edited and subsequently proofread a 50,000 word romantic novel. While editing it, I turned up some passages that appeared twice, chunks that had been cut-and-pasted and made other things not make sense, and some clunky language that had to be put into a more flowing style.  Proofreading it, a couple of months later, weeded out other small errors, and make sure all the formatting and punctuation were correct.  The author wrote the following review for me: 

Hannah is a competent, knowledgeable copy editor and proofreader. She picks up anomalies in the manuscript text, offers suggestions for improving the expression, and checks on facts in the text. Always approachable, she is willing to answer the author’s questions. Most importantly, she keeps well within the time schedules she proposes for her work. I would not hesitate to recommend her services.

  1. Vivienne Bennett

    Hello! I need you!

    Saw you on the new Creative Cornwall page on fb. Hooray! I asked if there was anyone who could help me but the post disappeared.

    I have a 63,000 word memoir about goats that needs a fresh pair of skilled eyes casting over it.

    Would love to chat about this with you.

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