We’ve had the great privilege and pleasure of editing several books over the last few years, from business memoirs and academic theses to works on learning methodologies, strategic innovation and general management from a Latin American perspective.
While they addressed a range of topics and diverse readerships, they all stemmed from the same 5-step process to ensure a top-quality manuscript:
1 – Defining the project scope
After reviewing the original manuscript, we meet with the author to learn more about the book’s objectives and proposed timeline and share our overall impressions and work process. We then prepare a project brief and quote based on these inputs.
2 – Production calendar
Preparing a production calendar is the next step. This visual tool offers a week-by-week roadmap for editions, revision rounds and wrap-up. We incorporate some wiggle room whenever possible, since experience has taught us to “expect the unexpected.”
On a related note, authors often underestimate the time needed to get their book publication-ready. For many, the counsel of author and writing coach Daphne Gray-Grant will come as a surprise: she advises authors to dedicate 20% of their time to writing, 50% to editing and 30% to proofreading!
3 – Single points of contact
We have worked both individually and as an editing team on book projects, sometimes with a single author and others, with several contributors. To avoid confusion and crisscrossing lines of communication, we define project leads at the start of the process.
4 – The editing phase
There are three main types of editing: developmental editing (editing of content), copy editing (editing of writing) and proofreading, an important last step to detect typos, formatting errors and other inaccuracies.
In the case of developmental and copy editing, the extent of our editions depends on the quality of the original manuscript and the author’s preferences. As an example, we have worked with several non-native English speakers who have written excellent manuscripts that still needed some smoothing over.
In all cases, we do our utmost to preserve the author’s style, tone and voice.
5 – Edition and delivery rounds
We break down the book into chapters, sections or word count extensions and work in short development cycles, establishing delivery dates and action items for each. This is a two-way street: we send our editions with track changes for the author’s review and integrate his or her modifications for the next round.
Generally, we go through two to three rounds of edits. Once each section or chapter is approved, we close the cycle and move on to the next chapter and voilà! Before you know it, your book is ready for send-off!