Author Archives: Blog assistant

Resources round-up: The publishing process

Welcome to this round-up of resources compiled by the CIEP. This time, we look at how books are made. We have divided our picks into:

  • Free resources from the CIEP
  • Books
  • Glossaries
  • Articles

Resources round-up: The publishing process

Free resources from the CIEP

Forgive us for leading with our own resources, but some of the free fact sheets on the CIEP’s practice notes web page provide a useful overview before we delve into the details of how books are made. ‘Anatomy of a book’, which describes the different parts of a book, is a good place to start. After that, you might want to explore the book-making process with ‘The publishing workflow’, supplementing that with the ‘Good editorial relationships’ infographic. Finally, ‘Proofreading or copyediting?’ covers which type of editing happens at different points in the creation of a book.

Books

These books aren’t free, but you can read free reviews of some of them by members of the CIEP, which might help you decide which are worth investing in.

Books about the publishing process

Two major editing and proofreading books – Butcher’s Copy-Editing (4th edn, Cambridge University Press, 2012) and New Hart’s Rules (2nd edn, Oxford University Press, 2014) – contain overviews of the publishing process. You might already have these volumes, so see what gems you can find within.

Inside Book Publishing by Giles Clark and Angus Phillips (6th edn, Routledge, 2019) covers the processes of traditional publishing in more detail. And to really dive into the subject, reach for the Oxford Handbook of Publishing, edited by Angus Phillips and Michael Bhaskar (OUP, 2019). Since this was reviewed by a CIEP member, a cheaper paperback version has been published.

If you’re coming to book production from a self-publishing point of view, the Writers’ & Artists’ Guide to Self-Publishing (Bloomsbury, 2020) could be helpful. Read the CIEP review for more.

The parts and people that make up the books

From a book’s blurb to its index, the different parts of a book have been explored in recent publications that are as entertaining as they are fascinating. For more recent bookish books, read our end-of-2022 round-up blog.

To add to these, get a copyeditor’s experience in The Subversive Copy Editor by Carol Fisher Saller (Chicago University Press, 2016), and hear from a lexicographer about how dictionaries are made in Word by Word by Kory Stamper (Pantheon, 2017).

Woman in a bookshop reading a book

Glossaries

Introducing ‘Publishing terminology explained’, Penguin Random House says: ‘Publishing shouldn’t be a mystery and that’s why we’ve pulled together an A–Z list of terms that we use in our business to help you navigate conversations and become familiar with how a publishing team operates.’ The CIEP has also written a free glossary of editorial terms.

Articles

Articles by and for the self-publishing industry excel in discussing how books are made. Recent examples include: ‘Why prologues get a bad rap’ by Tiffany Yates Martin on Jane Friedman’s website and ‘When should you have a table of contents and an index in your book?’, a TwitterChat run by the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi). You can rely on ALLi to really drill down to the intricate details that self-publishing authors might not realise they need to think about before the process starts.

However, one element that most authors will consider is the cover of their book. Cover designer Jessica Bell wrote articles recently on different aspects of this. For Jane Friedman, she discussed ‘The key elements of eye-catching book cover design’, and for ALLi she wrote about ‘Indie author book cover design: what works in 2022’. From ALLi you can also discover what really doesn’t work, in the TwitterChat ‘How a bad cover can ruin book sales’.

Last but never least is indexing. Indexer Geraldine Begley took to the AFEPI Ireland blog with ‘Indexing: An introduction for the curious’ which answers every question about indexing you can think of, including ‘Can’t a computer do that?’ (‘No’), and ‘Do I have to read the whole book?’ (‘Yes and no’). For anyone considering entering this interesting profession, or simply interested in what indexers actually do, this is indeed a great introduction for the curious.

About the CIEP

The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a non-profit body promoting excellence in English language editing. We set and demonstrate editorial standards, and we are a community, training hub and support network for editorial professionals – the people who work to make text accurate, clear and fit for purpose.

Find out more about:

 

Photo credits: laptop and notebook by Maya Maceka on Unsplash, bookshop by Alican Helik on Pexels.

Posted by Belinda Hodder, blog assistant.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.

Editors don’t just spot typos: Breaking down the editing stereotypes

Are editorial professionals just hard-hearted pedants? Of course not! Julia Sandford-Cooke looks into four common misconceptions about editors.

Image of a cascade of books, with the title of the blog post and author headshot on top

When a content creator asks ‘Why do I need an editor?’, it can be hard to know how to respond. We’re so good at quietly enhancing the clarity of texts that our role is often overlooked altogether. The CIEP, of course, is doing a fine job of raising our profile, but editors also have a responsibility to demolish the common stereotypes about our work that make many writers reluctant to hire editors.

Stereotype 1: Editors just spot typos

Even a little research reveals that this is not true. Scan the list of courses offered by the CIEP. Flick through the 12-page CIEP syllabus for the basic editorial test. The word ‘typo’ does not appear but the phrases ‘professional practice’ and ‘editorial knowledge and judgement’ do. The CIEP’s members are described on its homepage as ‘the people who work to make text accurate, clear and fit for purpose’. That is a broad description. Clearly, there is far more to being an editorial professional than just ‘correcting mistakes’.

Stereotype 2: Editors are the grammar police

Editors and proofreaders may suggest many types of amendments, and some of these suggestions may involve correcting grammar. Good editors and proofreaders will do so respectfully and sensitively. We don’t make judgements about the writer’s education or background. We don’t set out to destroy the writer’s self-confidence or impose our own style of writing on theirs. We won’t force the writer to make the changes we’ve marked up. They are just suggestions that we believe, in our professional capacity, will make the text more effective in achieving its purpose. The writer isn’t obliged to accept them (unless they have been commissioned to write to a specific brief).

We appreciate that seeing a screen of red Track Changes can be intimidating. We know that it can be dispiriting to be told that that long-incubated text is not quite ready for publication. But we are on the writer’s side. It should be more a partnership than a hierarchical relationship, in which we respect the writer’s vision and the writer respects our expertise.

A typewriter with the word 'grammar' typewritten on the inserted paper

Stereotype 3: Editors are too expensive

‘Expensive’ is a relative term. A good edit or proofread is an investment but budgets are often tight. Several hundred (or thousand) pounds is a lot of money to find, even for established publishers – in some cases, the rates they offer editors and proofreaders have actually reduced over the years.

A self-published author once told me that they’d had the budget to commission either an editor or a cover designer and had opted for the cover designer, believing that marketing was more of a priority. After all, when a book catches your eye, you’re likely to buy it before you read it. But reviews on sites such as Goodreads and Amazon, and old-fashioned word-of-mouth recommendations, also generate sales. When a reading experience is spoilt by inconsistencies, errors and impenetrable prose, those positive reviews and therefore those additional sales will not materialise.

If a client baulks at my fees, that’s their prerogative, just as it’s my prerogative to turn down a job that doesn’t meet my minimum hourly rate. Editorial professionals are running a business and need to pay the bills. And my quote for ‘doing the work’ includes not only the time taken to do the work itself but also 25 years of editing experience, both in-house at publishers and as a freelancer. Factors other than long service may also be significant. For example, those who became editors after a successful career in another field may apply the knowledge from their previous roles and qualifications to provide a specialist service, such as for legal or medical texts. Clients are paying for that knowledge, just as they would for the services of a plumber or solicitor.

Stereotype 4: Editors have been replaced by AI anyway

Artificial intelligence (AI) seems to be everywhere these days. Can computers do what editors do? Well, some editorial tasks can be performed by software. Microsoft Word has an ‘Editor’ function that suggests ‘refinements’ to aid such aspects as ‘clarity’, ‘conciseness’ and ‘inclusiveness’. The popular app Grammarly promises ‘bold, clear, mistake-free writing’. And editors themselves use a variety of tools to help them work efficiently and accurately. Few of us would contemplate copyediting without running the trusty PerfectIt or our favourite macros.

But extracting meaning from text requires not only an in-depth knowledge of the ‘rules’ of language and punctuation but also an ability to put ourselves in the heads of readers to identify what could be clearer, what could be missing, or what could be cut. We’re not merely correcting grammar and typos – we are interacting with the text, raising queries where we believe it could be made more effective. Our checks may involve formatting and presentation – for example, checking that a page layout is balanced – or they may be to do with the content and the way the argument is expressed. None of these aspects have yet, to my knowledge, been fully grasped by a computer.

Again, our personal experiences bring a very human dimension to the act of editing. Our thought processes have quirks and tangents that are difficult to program. We look at the big picture, as well as the details, and there are subtleties in language and meaning that cannot quite be quantified by a machine. We use editorial judgement to get that balance right.

In any case, as a writer, I’d much prefer to engage with a real person with real opinions. Real people will be the readers of my published work, after all.

But don’t just take my word for it. Download this focus paper, ‘Imagine … an editor’, by the CIEP’s honorary president, David Crystal, to read his inimitable take on the importance of editorial professionals. His argument is far more eloquent than mine. Perhaps I need an editor!

About Julia Sandford-Cooke

Julia Sandford-CookeAdvanced Professional Member and CIEP Information Team member Julia Sandford-Cooke of WordFire Communications has clocked up nearly 25 years in publishing. When not editing textbooks, she posts short, grumpy book reviews on her blog, Ju’s Reviews, and would like to get on with writing her novel if only work didn’t keep getting in the way.

 

About the CIEP

The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a non-profit body promoting excellence in English language editing. We set and demonstrate editorial standards, and we are a community, training hub and support network for editorial professionals – the people who work to make text accurate, clear and fit for purpose.

Find out more about:

 

Photo credits: header image by Pixabay, typewriter by Suzy Hazelwood, both on Pexels.

Posted by Sue McLoughlin, blog assistant.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.

Developmental fiction editing Q&A part 3: Process

To celebrate the launch of our new guide, Developmental Editing for Fiction, we are publishing a series of three blog posts in which Sophie Playle – author of the guide – answers CIEP members’ burning questions about this service.

To learn more, download the guide and consider taking one of Sophie’s online courses about developmental fiction editing.

I’m interested in how you communicate the developmental edit. Is it primarily through an editorial letter? A combination of a letter and comments in the margins of the manuscript? Do you meet with the author on Zoom, talk on the phone? How often?

Absolutely no to Zoom! My poor little introverted soul couldn’t take that kind of spotlight – though video or phone sessions definitely work for some editors.

The way I deliver my feedback will depend on the scope of the service I’ve defined and the needs of the manuscript. For example, for some general feedback, I’ll write an editorial report that doesn’t go beyond a certain number of pages; there will be no notes in the manuscript.

But for a full developmental edit, I’ll provide a longer editorial report, and I’ll leave notes in the manuscript. How extensive these are will depend on what’s needed. I might make some direct changes to the text, I might not. I might extensively highlight the manuscript, I might not.

Do you use book maps or other visual aids?

I might, I might not! (See above.)

Book maps take time to create. If I think the plot is going to need some extensive work, I’ll suggest that I make a book map as part of my developmental edit. Sometimes, I’ll get the author to make one for me (this saves me time and saves the author money) and I’ll use that to help form my analysis.

I’ve made a basic narrative-arc graph that I often insert into my editorial reports when explaining the three-act structure. Sometimes I’ll use tables or graphs if they help me present information more clearly. It’s something I want to make more use of, actually, so I’m always on the look-out for ideas in this area!

I love to know about workflows and the practical side. How do you do the processing of reading, analysing, assessing and suggesting? Do you use a step-by-step process? How much back-and-forth is there with the author?

There’s no one right way to conduct a developmental edit, but this is my general approach:

  1. Read the manuscript straight through, quickly, without taking notes.
  2. Let thoughts percolate for a day or two.
  3. Jot down my main impressions for what needs to be addressed.
  4. Plug these notes into my editorial report template.
  5. The next step will depend on the scope of the specific service.
    • For a critique, I’ll flesh out those notes, scanning the manuscript to refresh my memory, if needed.
    • For a full developmental edit, I’ll work through the manuscript page-by-page, making the notes in the manuscript and my editorial report inform one another.

I’ll only get in touch with the author during the edit if I need them to clarify something relevant to the feedback I’m crafting. I won’t send them the manuscript to work on while I’m also working on it.

Developmental fiction editing

How many times do you read each manuscript, and what sort of notes do you make for yourself on each pass?

Usually once for a critique, twice for a full developmental edit (leaving notes and making edits during the second read-through).

I try not to make any notes on the first read-through as I want to experience the story more like a reader on this pass. I might highlight text I think could be useful to my analysis, and I might leave a few scant notes if I notice emerging recurring problems, but I won’t go into any detail or think about ways to fix the issues yet.

After you return your feedback to the client, is that the end of the process or do you then review any changes they make in light of your comments?

I let authors know that they can ask me for any clarifications if there’s something in my feedback they don’t understand. I ask them to batch their questions and let them know that I won’t spend more than another hour addressing them.

I don’t go back over the manuscript to check the revisions unless we’ve already agreed that this will be part of the service. This takes time, and needs to be considered in the fee and my schedule.

How do you balance how much you suggest and how much responsibility the author needs to take for fixing their own book under your guidance?

I won’t make substantial changes to an author’s book – that’s completely their responsibility, since it’s their book. I can only provide guidance and suggestions. How general or specific that is will depend on the scope of the service we’ve agreed upon.

How do you edit books in which authors have written to a formula, such as the frameworks in books like Save the Cat! Writes A Novel or Story Grid, especially if you’re not familiar with such frameworks or if the author is highly resistant to deviating from them?

If an author wants to use a framework you’re not familiar with, either don’t work on that book or take the time to learn about the framework.

If the author wants to use a framework, that’s up to them. You might be able to make the case for them to deviate from it, but if they decide they don’t agree with your justifications, that’s their right.

Authors often use frameworks as learning tools. They might not be ready to delve into more original or experimental story structures, and doing so might not help them achieve their writing or publishing goals so isn’t always necessary anyway.

As well as that, frameworks don’t produce cookie-cutter stories (if used well). Understanding archetypal story structure is hugely useful – for both authors and editors. Originality is found in the details, and the combination of new ideas – all of which can be hung beautifully upon frameworks.

About Sophie Playle

Sophie Playle is a professional fiction editor who also teaches online courses to other editors. Speculative and literary fiction are her favourite genres to edit, and she loves working with authors who are passionate about high-quality storytelling. Sophie is an Advanced Professional Member of the CIEP, and has an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway, University of London.

 

About the CIEP

The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a non-profit body promoting excellence in English language editing. We set and demonstrate editorial standards, and we are a community, training hub and support network for editorial professionals – the people who work to make text accurate, clear and fit for purpose.

Find out more about:

 

Photo credit: header image by EliFrancis on Pixabay, open books by Gülfer Ergin on Unsplash.

Posted by Belinda Hodder, Blog Assistant.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.