Discussing the editing process with clients is vital. You know the editing process is only one part of taking a manuscript from an idea to a finished and polished book. For some, editing merely implies proofreading and ensuring that sentence structure flows well. For others, it digs deep beneath the surface of a novel or a nonfiction work. Either way, it’s so much more than finding typos and fixing issues with sentence structure or grammar.
The editing process should involve numerous aspects of a manuscript’s development that is broken down into various editorial approaches and focal points: dialog, narrative, style, clarity, flow, and so forth. Substantive editing, also called structural editing, focuses on clarity in regard to a manuscripts structure, flow, and clarity. Stylistic editing focuses on enhancing clarity and can focus on dialogue, point of view transitions, and plot structure and flow. It can also involve line-by-line editing that doesn’t just focus on the mechanical aspects such as grammar and punctuation, but how those sentences flow together (or not) to enhance character development, plot, and subplots.
Broaching editorial changes with clients
Developmental editing, in addition to focusing on structure and style, also pays attention to development of characters, plots and subplots, and continuity. Editors are more than aware that authors are often resistant to suggested changes when it comes to their manuscripts, so it’s always important to explain why certain changes should be made to give their manuscripts the best chance to shine.
This needs to be done with compassion and respect.
Whether you’re dealing with a first-time author or an experienced one, most – if they’re serious about honing their craft – are willing to take suggestions. After all, the goal is to sell your book, whether you choose self-publishing venues or traditional publishing houses, or you’re seeking a literary agent.
When it comes to anything more than mechanical edits or proofreading, discussing potential changes ahead of time with authors in regard to dialogue, character development, plotting, or formatting is often the best way to go. That way, they know what to expect. That’s not to say that authors are always agreeable.
Nevertheless, at the end of the day, the decision to make changes of any kind in a manuscript is up to you – the author. It’s your book.