How to Edit a Book

EditorThe reason I haven’t posted anything in a while is because I was working on editing my book about reinventing education. Editing was absolutely tedious and required liters, no, pools of coffee and hours upon hours of jazz music. So I apologize for not stilling your cravings for some fresh Inspiration Avenue content.

If you’re a writer, blogger, author, or all three, then you may or may not find this post helpful. Here are some of the things I did, in no particular order whatsoever, that helped me get through the editing process somewhat easily:

1. Read the text out loud. That’s how you can make sure the text flows smoothly. You’ll pick up on stupid errors. It might be a little awkward if someone walks in on you reading your own work out loud, but you can just tell them that it makes your book better than their life’s story.

2. Simplify, simplify. Henry Thoreau knew what he was talking about. If a 16-year-old can’t understand what you’re saying in your book, then it’s probably a little bit too complicated. Use simple grammar and don’t be verbose. Get your point across in an effective and succinct manner. Nobody really cares about your Ph.D. if you can’t even express yourself like a normal human being.

3. Print it out. It helps to read what you wrote on actual paper and not only on a retina-friendly screen. You can underline things, make little notes and reminders on the side, and doodle. A book is traditionally read in paper format, so It’d be a good idea to do that when you’re editing.

4. Make sure you have enough time. There’s nothing worse than editing a book under time pressure. Well, actually, that’s not true. There are things that are a lot worse than that: Eating a cold steak at an award-winning restaurant, getting a bad haircut or an atrocious tattoo, or being electrocuted. The main point here is that you need a good amount of time to really focus on editing your work. A cup of coffee (or 10) helps, too.

5. Get other people to read your work. Send out your edited work to people who know how to edit better than you. For example, send it out to English professors, authors, or people who focus on working with different types of literature. They have an eye for mistakes as well as good quality writing. It’s always helpful to get a different perspective of your own work by letting others read it. Be sure to tell them to be honest with you when they send you their critical feedback. They shouldn’t sugarcoat things as important as that.

6. Treat your book like it’s a bestseller. Don’t tell yourself, “Oh, well, I haven’t ever written a book before, so I’m like, not very good at this stuff, so my book doesn’t have to be perfect the first time.” Even if it doesn’t become a bestseller, you should still treat it like one. Make it as perfect as possible, because you can’t control who will read it. Your book might even end up in my hands. Set your standards high but don’t try to convince yourself that your book will be a bestseller. Just treat it like one. Stay humble, focus on the quality of your work, and drink another cup of coffee.

Those are my six tips on editing a book, an important blog post, an essay, or whatever else. As I mentioned above, I also usually listen to calm jazz music while I edit. It helps me get in the zone.

My book is currently being edited by the final editor, and once that’s done, it will be sent out to a few key people who will endorse it for me. After that, I will print a lot of copies as well as make an e-Book out of it. The predicted publishing date is sometime in January 2013, and if something doesn’t go as planned, then probably in early February. Cheers.

9 thoughts on “How to Edit a Book

  1. Those are great tips! Nos. 2 and 5 are especially useful. I really don’t like it when a writer gets too verbose and I have to look up a word every few pages. The occasionally “big word” is okay as long as it’s not excessive. Also, fresh pairs of eyes can always do wonders for a book!

  2. Pingback: How to Edit a Book « Inspiration Avenue | Tammy Rizzo's Blog

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