Manuscript Editing – Is Spell Check Good Enough?

Is Manuscript Editing Necessary? 

Is Manuscript Editing Necessary?

A question often asked is whether or not professional manuscript editing is necessary for book publishing. The answer is quite simple—yes! Even the best authors need an editor. For a book to be taken seriously, it should be professionally edited. Your gift may be story telling or you may be brilliant at sharing trade secrets, but if the content is garbled, then you have lessened the impact of your work.

A skilled editor brings professionalism to your project. While it’s good to have family and friends look over the manuscript, they are not looking with the same eagle eyes as a skilled editor. Your editor is not hired to be encouraging or friendly as your family are. Their bottom line is to ensure that you have the best possible manuscript to present for publishing. This sometimes means your feelings may experience a slight pinch, but weigh what was said before throwing the point out. This does not give editors the right to be brutal or unkind.

Teachers And Editors Also Need Editors

Even a writer who may also be an editor or a teacher, should have a second pair of skilled eyes looking at their work. How many times have you corrected and re-corrected your work only to come back later to find you missed a simple word or made a subtle punctuation error. After a while you begin to see what you want to see.

Your Manuscript Editing Is Not Just For Punctuation

As an author you really need someone to take an objective look at your sentence structure. You want to be sure that your message is being relayed in the smoothest manner possible. This way you avoid your readers being bored, or your message being poorly communicated.

Check The Length Of Your Sentences

An editor will check your sentence length and content. Are you too wordy or are your points too abrupt? Is there a more refined way to make your point? Can you substitute some of the big words for words that speak more plainly? Does your manuscript need a more conversational tone to eliminate dryness? Your book should be a smooth reading experience; not one that leaves readers scratching their heads, wondering if they should continue reading it.

Typos Are A Turnoff

Readers leaving book reviews can sometimes be unkind when commenting about book errors. Many times it relates to the typos; other times it’s the quality of the work. In either case, the issues can be readily addressed by a competent editor. No book is ever 100% perfect, but if you can eliminate the lion's share of the errors, you can eliminate unnecessary low reviews as well as dissatisfied customers.

Not All Manuscript Editing Is The Same

A good editor will find out what kind of editing you have in mind. They will also be upfront about the specific types of manuscripts they work with. Not all books are edited the same way. It is not a given that an editor who works primarily on novels will also work well on a scholastic book. Here are several of the services editors offer authors.

  • Copy editing- check and standardize grammar, spelling, punctuation and other mechanics of style. Critical at this level is a thorough check for consistency of style choices, mechanics and facts.
  • Substantive (or structure) editing- focuses on logical organization and flow of content to ensure that your document clear, concise, and easy to read at the sentence, paragraph, and chapter levels.
  • Fact Checking/Reference Checking- focuses on accuracy of facts and/or quotes by reference to original sources used by author and/or from other sources.

So has spell check been your resident editor so far? It's time to upgrade to a more professional editor to give your book the attention it deserves.

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