FAQs About Editing
What is editing, exactly?
Editing is an umbrella term that covers a variety of different services. At kn literary arts, we break the term “editing” down into two broad categories: content editing and technical editing.
What is content editing?
Here at kn literary, content editing is what we do best. Content editing includes two different types of editorial work:
- Developmental editing, which is all about looking at the big picture of your book and making sure it’s working. We’ll be looking at your organizational framework; the completeness, pacing, and order of the content; the voice, tone and language; and many more global ideas. We will deliver your developmental edit in the form of an editorial letter and notes in the margins.
- Line-editing, which is where we review your book sentence-by-sentence for grammar, clarity and flow. You’ll find a lot of pretty colored marks on your manuscript after we’re done with our line-edit! You can count on your content being 95% clean after we’re complete. If your project is a book proposal, this is as far as you should need to go. If your project is a book, however, and if you are self-publishing, we highly recommend you get some technical editing before you go to press.
What is technical editing?
Once the content has been edited, but before the book goes to press, it needs to go through at least one (but better yet, two or three) rounds of technical editing. Technial editing includes:
- Copyediting, which focuses on the formatting of the book and finding any stray grammatical errors or typos. Copyediting happens when the book is still in manuscript form. We highly recommend copyediting if you are self-publishing your book and want it to be as good as the traditionally published books it will be sitting next to on the shelf.
- Proofreading, which takes place after the book has been set into type. While you’re free to get the manuscript proofread before you send it to your self-publisher, it is critical to have the book proofread one more time once the book is formatted. This step should not be considered optional if you are self-publishing. Books published by traditional houses are proofread three times before they are sent to press! You don’t want your book to stand out from the crowd in a bad way, know what we’re sayin’?
If I use an editor, am I guaranteed to get a publishing deal?
Unfortunately not. A book editor will help you improve your work, often by a wide margin. But that doesn’t mean the final product will clear the (very high) bar set by traditional book publishers. An editor is limited by your choice of subject matter, your writing skill, the size of your audience and current market forces. Your book will be much better after working with an editor, but we can’t promise it will land you a book deal.
Will Kelly edit my book?
Unfortunately Kelly’s attention is occupied these days with running the business and as a result she’s not able to take on any editorial work. That said, she does offer an intensive, one-on-one book visioning service to help you craft the best version of your book outline possible. If you’re interested in hearing more, fill out our questionnaire and ask one of our matchmakers for more information!
FAQs on Getting Published
What are publishers looking for?
Publishers are looking for one thing: books that are going to sell a lot of copies. So they want books that have broad appeal, that feel fresh and/or different from what’s already out there, and authors who have networks of people already waiting to buy their books. Many thousands of book proposals get pitched to publishing companies every year, and only a small handful get picked up for publication. It’s a tough market and is not for the faint of heart!
How do I know if my book or book proposal is good enough to get picked up by a traditional publisher?
Putting together a selling book or proposal is an art, not a science. That said, if you can answer “yes” to all three of these questions, you’re on the right track:
- Do I have a promotional platform that will catch a publisher’s attention?
- Am I an excellent, sophisticated, compelling writer?
- Is the topic I’ve chosen narrowly tailored, high-concept, and unique?
If you can’t answer “yes” to all three of these questions, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write your book! We simply suggest you consider self-publishing rather than investing the time and effort it takes to look first for a literary agent, and then a publisher.
What’s this “platform” thing I keep hearing about?
The term “platform” has come to mean “the number of people who already know who you are, and are waiting to buy your book as soon as it publishes.” Everybody has a platform—you might have an email list of 25,000 people, or you might just have your family and friends. Traditional publishers are looking for big platforms. They want you to be communicating with many thousands of people, because such a built-in audience lowers their risk. As the big publishers continue to consolidate and fewer books are being published, traditional houses are focusing on publishing heavy hitters. Fewer and fewer “unknowns” are getting acquired these days. The unfortunate truth is that if you don’t have a platform, most publishers will not be interested in you.
So what do I do? I have a great book idea but no platform to speak of.
You have two choices. First, you can set about building a platform. Plan on taking up to 2-3 years to build a substantial following online, using a website, regular blogging/newsletter, and social media. This is a good option if you are building a career as a coach, teacher or speaker. A great book that offers a step-by-step plan for building your audience is called Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt. If you don’t want to put time and energy into building a platform, you can take the second option: self-publishing. When you self-publish you don’t have to convince anybody that your book will sell. You simply create the book and sell as few or as many copies as you are able.
Can you help with my website?
Round these parts, we specialize in books and books alone! But there are many amazing humans out there who focus on helping authors, entrepreneurs and creative people get started on the web. For custom websites designed just for you, we love Charlie Griffin at Web Expert. If you only need a simple site without a ton of bells and whistles, we recommend Pub Site from our friends Fauzia and John Burke, which is designed for newer authors just getting started. Let them know we sent you!
FAQs for Self-Publishing
What does it mean to self-publish a book?
In the traditional publishing model, you hand your baby over to a publishing company and they take the responsibility for editing the book, creating a cover design, printing copies, and distributing the book to booksellers. But as more and more people are writing books these days, finding a traditional publisher has become harder and harder. Many writers have turned to self-publishing as a means to get their book in print. Self-publishing means there is no publisher in the mix: you do all the work yourself, and you get all the reward.
What are the benefits to self-publishing?
- A lower bar for publication than the traditional houses, especially in terms of the platform/audience you need to have in place
- Faster publication—often 3 months from submission, as opposed to 9 months or more with a traditional house
- More profit per copy sold
- More creative liberty in terms of content, cover design and title
My friend self-published a book, and he’s had 2500 copies sitting in his garage for the past 10 years! How do I avoid that?
Self-publishing has gotten less and less risky since the advent of digital print on demand (a.k.a. P.O.D.) publishing. With P.O.D., you can print off as few as one single copy of your book—meaning you no longer have to take a big risk up front on thousands of copies to get a good price.
Self-publishing sounds complicated. I don’t know if I can do it!
We get it: self-publishing seems complicated, because it often is! But these days, there are many resources available to help you navigate this somewhat tricky terrain. Reputable self-publishing companies make it simple for you to take your book to press. (Two that get good customer ratings are Amazon CreateSpace and IngramSpark.) You can hire a self-publishing guide to walk you through the process; we love Sheridan McCarthy at Meadowlark Publishing Services. Finally, there are also many good books available to help guide you through the process of self-publishing. Our favorite is The Fine Print of Self-Publishing by Mark Levine.
Once I get my edited manuscript back from my kn literary editor, will it be ready to publish?
You can expect your book to be in great shape when it comes back to you from your kn literary content editor–we say it should be about 95% ready to go. This is a normal margin of error if you are writing a book proposal or submitting a book to a publisher for possible publication. That said, if you are taking your book straight to press, we highly recommend you get some technical editing done first.
When a traditional publishing house puts a book through production, they take the content-edited manuscript and put it through an average of four rounds of technical editing. First, the manuscript is copyedited. A copyeditor codes the manuscript for the typesetter, and looks for consistency, grammar and errors. After copyediting the book is set into type. Then the typeset manuscript—also called a “proof”—is carefully proofread up to three times before the book is printed.
For our typical client, we suggest a minimum of one round of proofreading on the typeset proof pages. But if you have the budget, we highly recommend a copyedit of the final manuscript as well. Once you fill out our questionnaire, you can ask your kn literary matchmaker about our technical editing add-ons. Or, chat with your self-publisher; most self-publishing companies offer copyediting and proofreading services at a reasonable price.
How do I get a cover designed?
We recommend you use a professional book cover designer. (Not your younger brother who was always good at drawing, or your niece who just taught herself to use Photoshop!) Your book must look as good as all the other books on the shelf, including those published by the traditional houses, so make sure you’re choosing someone who has actual book cover experience.
We love PowerUp Productions for reasonably priced, personalized design services. Many of our clients have also found success using www.99designs.com. Finally, we at kn literary also offer high-quality, professional book cover design as an add-on service for all of our editorial packages.
Okay, I’m ready to do this thing! How can I get started?
Fill out our questionnaire, and we’ll get you on the phone with someone who knows this info inside and out. Looking forward to hearing from you!