Book Editing Services Australia
Want help with your book, novel or manuscript? We provide editing services for all types of books, fiction, non-fiction, training manuals and children’s books world wide.
Can May We Help You?
Why did I change the word “can” for the word “may”? Well: so we get the answer to the question we really want to ask — “Will you allow us to help you?”
That’s what editing is: another person helping you to say what you meant, by checking that you meant what you said. The Book Printing Company has editors available to help.
For self-publishing authors, we find the following are most appropriate: and we advise you to start at the bottom, with the cheapest one!
- Substantive editing is an intensive structural edit that works out about $10.00 a page.
- Copy editing is a basic word-by-word edit at about $7.00 a page.
- Proofreading fixes the spelling and punctuation: about $5.00 a page.
My suggestion: send your manuscript for Proofreading. If we think it needs more, we will discuss that with you, and give you a quote. Remember, we are here to help you, and that begins with not wasting your money on things you don’t need.
Those costs are estimates; for text that is in good shape when we get it. In Creating a Book in Word, we explain how to set up and use the spelling and grammar checkers. If you choose not to do that, your editing cost will more than double (or your book will look really bad…). You’re the Boss, if you want us to print it in your handwriting with lots of crossings-out, no problem! At the end of the day, we will print what you send us!
There’s no need to read any more; the rest of this article simply explains the details to help you choose the services you want.
Nobody Likes Being Edited
On the universal scale of popularity, editors rank close to the bottom — down there with referees and dentists — but like dentists, there are times when it’s a really good idea to engage one. One of those times is just before you publish your book! Even more than the Internet, print is forever: the Ancient Sumerians made spelling mistakes on their papyri some 4,000 years before Christ. How do we know this? Because they are still there! OK, maybe a few typos won’t worry you too much, but losing your house because you got sued for libel kinda spoils the party, right?
As an editor, I set out to give you the best chance of achieving your publishing aim: to produce a book you will be truly proud of; to maximise your sales if that’s your thing, or to avoid you spending the rest of your life with half the family refusing to speak to you. Usually, I do not make any changes to your book: I ask questions; you make the changes if you agree with me. Someone who knows you well will be able to read your book and say, “That’s my friend: reading this I can hear their voice coming from the pages!”
Kinds of Editing
The industry recognises nine types of editing:
- Editorial assessment: decides what to write about.
- Structural editing: puts the table of contents into a sequence the reader will expect.
- Substantive editing: advises on structure, sequence and content.
- Line editing: focuses on the flow and style of expression.
- Copy editing: Advises on grammar, syntax and expression.
- Proofreading: the final stage before the press rolls, fixes the formatting and typos.
- Fact-checking: makes sure everything you say is true.
- Indexing: builds an index for you.
You won’t need all of them! At the risk of telling you things you already know, let’s explain them all, so those coming here for the first time have all the information they need.
A major publication (say: “The Cookbook of the World”) may run to several volumes and take a team of 40 people three years to produce. The first copy will cost 25 million dollars! Whoever decides to pay for that would want to be awfully sure it is going to sell before the press rolls. So they employ the team and use a defined process to ensure success. In the following, I explain how to pick the value out of their process, so you can be much more confident you will achieve what you set out to do:
The book production process begins before the first word is written. Author, editor and artist stand around a whiteboard and add ideas on which topics to cover and how best to represent them. This is when a publisher gives their provisional “Yes” or “No” decision.
You can get the same benefit: make a list of the topics you want to cover, and invite your friends around to comment. If they all say, “I want to read that!” you’re on a winner — if one or two say “No way would I bother with that!” you just saved yourself two years’ work and a lot of money. That’s the editorial assessment.
Note: “friends” will want to be kind with their comments: they won’t tell you the bad stuff unless you specifically push them for it. “Are there any topics here you think I could leave out?” “Are there any topics you would not read?” “Is there something you would like to know that is not here?” “Are there any headings you do not understand?” “What would you expect to find under that heading?”
Give them permission to speak their mind, and maybe shout them a couple of adult beverages. If your book sounds boring and meaningless, you want to know now, not AFTER you have spent two years writing it!
Structural Book editing
Once they decide the list of topics, the writer and editor turn them into a list of headings, and together they put them into the order a typical reader would expect to find them.
I explain how to use Microsoft Word’s Outlining function to do this in Creating a Book in Word. Or you can use the same group of friends at the same party that you used for the editorial assessment.
You are making a table of contents: when you have done, you can send that in for feedback: this can reduce your writing time by as much as half! Typically, this step will cost you about $20 and we will absorb the cost into the proofreading stage (which will be a lot cheaper if you have done a structural edit).
There is nothing more difficult and frustrating than trying to write to an outline that is simply wrong; spending months going back adding, moving and deleting text to try to make it work when it just won’t. I have laboured for weeks to write whole chapters that ultimately were deleted because they were not needed.
Substantive Book editing
Substantive editing (sometimes called line editing) is usually performed on the first draft. Whereas the structural edit deals only with the table of contents, the substantive edit deals with everything except the formatting. Substantive editing is usually performed chapter-by-chapter as each one is written.
Substantive editing works on the flow and expression to make sure your reader will easily understand the text. Professional publishers use a substantive-editing step to ensure that the text adheres to their style guide (a long list of do’s and don’ts) and the “voice” (how we speak to our audience).
There is not much call for substantive editing in self-publishing: usually by the time we see your text, you have it the way you want it. However, if you are producing a large textbook or other non-fiction work, you will save time and money by flipping each chapter to the editor. You will catch repetitive problems as soon as they happen, and can be much more confident that what you finally produce is what you want the reader to have.
During the proof-reading pass, our editor will consider whether your work would benefit from substantive editing, and discuss this with you if so.
Book Copy editing
Copy-editing advises on grammar, syntax, expression and punctuation; ensuring that what you say is what you mean; the way you “speak” is the way you want to sound.
In self-publishing, an editor is very careful not to change the way you sound.
For a major work such as a text book, copy editing is well worth it; even for family histories it can be very valuable, it avoids enraged phone calls from the best friend because a mis-placed comma has you saying that their spouse is “fat”.
Proofreading is the final stage before the press rolls, to fix the formatting and typos.
For most self-publishing, this is the only editing pass we recommend. During this step, we will perform light editing of the copy and flow if needed, and format the text into a book for you.
If we feel your work would benefit from more intensive editing, we will discuss this with you and give you a quote.
If you want to sell your book, make sure you have added the ISBN Number and bar code to your book before you send it for proofreading: it’s the first thing we will look for. Without the bar code, no bookseller will list the publication so you could only sell to family and friends. Get your ISBN here: https://www.myidentifiers.com.au/identify-protect-your-book/isbn/buy-isbn.
A publisher will consider fact-checking an essential step to ensure that everything you say is true, so they don’t suffer legal problems. In self-publishing, of course YOU are the publisher, and we will insist you sign a contract to that effect.
So you are responsible for ensuring that everything you say is accurate and non-libellous. Please take this seriously: while you can say pretty much anything you like on social media, where people can’t easily be found or identified, and everyone knows most of them have no money; in publishing the reverse is true! You can be easily found, and you can lose your house if someone decides to have a go! If in doubt, ask your lawyer to have a look.
We normally do not recommend including an index with self-published work: they are expensive or time-consuming to produce and few modern readers expect them, or even use them. Most modern readers turn straight to the first page, they don’t even look at the table of contents.
However, textbooks should have an index, and family histories can benefit from them.
It takes some skill with Word to produce a good index. We cover the basics in Creating a Book in Word, and will be happy to quote to make an index for you. A 300-page textbook costs roughly $1,500 to $2,500 to index: and there is NO “automatic” way to produce an Index that gives a useable result.
This deals with the mechanical aspects of arranging your text so it will print as a book. Paper size, headers, footers, page numbers, table of contents, margins, binding margin…
Normally we build this in to the proofreading edit because once the text is clean and finished, it’s a work of moments to format it.
Some books will benefit from more intensive work: for example, the luxurious coffee-table travel guide or cookbook. These really should be laid up as facing pages in InDesign by a graphic designer. We have such people available, and will advise you if we think their services would be appropriate for your book.