While I’ve read and continue to read numerous books on the art of editing and writing, I find myself most frequently leaning on an editing tip that was thrown at me way back in high school. Read it out loud.
Unlike copyediting, which focuses purely on the text, proofreaders engage with the book after the interior has been designed and laid out. That means that in addition to keeping an eye out for egregious grammar errors and typos, the proofreader is focused on aesthetics: eliminating typographic gaffes such as widows, orphans, and runts; marking bad breaks and word stacks; and ensuring design elements such as subheads and running heads are handled consistently.
Remember that a manuscript is the result of a writer’s blood, sweat, and tears. Unless they’re lucky to be full-time writers, authors are usually people working a nine-to-five job and have to write during their lunch breaks or stay up late into the night writing after their children have gone to bed. They’ve sacrificed their energy, time, and social life to write a book, and if a query is not handled well, they could see it as an attack on them and not as constructive feedback.
Big companies have the money to outsource photographers, and that’s great. It provides freelance photographers work and gives them a great source of income. Many smaller businesses, and especially publishers, do not have those kinds of resources. So we have to make do. But how?
Numerous instructors of writing share the same advice when it comes to editing: resist the urge to edit while you write! Just get your ideas out, flesh them out, and worry about the fine points of editing later. But despite the numerous voices in your head and from those around you pleading for you to resist the temptation, is this really the best advice in any and every situation?
The most important thing to remember about an editor, is that they are people too (no, they are not perfect); they do have feelings. Having to deal with the stigma surrounding their profession, as well as their actual work, can be pretty overwhelming. Shouldn’t authors want to be helpful, especially for someone they will be working so closely with? Newsflash: you CAN make your editors life easier! Here is some advice that will allow you (as a writer) to ease the weight on your editor’s shoulders.