If you’re new to self-publishing, you might not know exactly what to expect as you go through the production process. This is true even if you’re a veteran coming over from traditional publishing. It’s a lot different when you’re the project lead and need to make arrangements for every stage of revisions and editing. If it’s your first book, this is probably all new territory for you.
The first thing to determine is the various stages you’ll need to address. I’m including them here, along with a brief description of each. After that, I’ll discuss what to expect as you navigate each step of the journey.
Line Editing & Copyediting
General Notes About the Process
Line edits and copy edits are often done in the same editing pass.
In a perfect world, we’d each be able to put our books through every step of the production process. Unfortunately, time and budget doesn’t always permit this. And that’s okay, just be aware and take steps to try to mitigate that as much as possible. To give you an idea, here’s a brief rundown on revisions for a typical project.
Because of the nature of developmental editing, it's often hard to quantify the changes that are made. But by the time I get a story for line editing, it’s usually been through some combination of beta readers, critique partners, and/or a developmental editor, and usually the author has made at least one self-editing / revisions pass.
During the line edit / copy edit phase, I will usually make somewhere between 2,000 and 8,000 revisions to the manuscript. It will then go back to the author, who will incorporate those changes and send any revisions back to me. I’ll look over those revisions and make some more changes, which go back to the author for another round of incorporation.
At this point, it will likely go to copyediting or proofreading. The proofreader will make anywhere from 750 to 1,500 revisions. It now goes back to the author again for incorporation.
Finally, the book is ready for formatting and a final-pass read or proofread (what we call Oops Detection® at Victory Editing). If an author outsources their formatting, I usually do a “poor man’s conversion” and run the document through Calibre. This means we can’t check for formatting errors, but it does give a final check for typos. It’s typical at this stage to get one error every one or two thousand words (between 30-60 “oopses” for a 60,000-word manuscript).
The 90% Formula
What This Means
Every editor I know strives for perfection, but we’re human, and it’s not going to happen, no matter how much we wish for it. And the final stages of editing and revision are much like rinsing dye out of a garment: you don’t rinse it once, twice, or three times; you rinse it until the water runs clear. The more dye you started with, the more rinses it’s going to take before that happens. On the bright side, the end result is usually spectacular!
Courtney Milan has generously allowed me to borrow from her descriptions of the various phases of editing. You can read about Courtney’s process of production here: http://www.courtneymilan.com/ramblings/2011/06/18/stages-of-production.
As always, feel free to email me with any questions!