I was looking at a publisher’s website the other day. It was a publisher who advertises itself as a “self-publisher,” which is a misnomer unless the only author that publisher publishes is himself. That made me wonder how accurate that publisher was in other aspects of publishing, so I clicked around and discovered that they “edit as needed.”
That allows all sorts of leeway in what one can expect from their editors.
Writers deserve better and here’s a list of questions good editors ask when editing a manuscript.
- How clear is the author’s message to the reader (sentence by sentence)?
- What does the reader need to know and does this sentence meet that need?
- Am I suggesting this revision because that’s how I would say it or because it improves the author’s voice and clarity?
- Have I consulted the appropriate manual (Chicago Manual of Style for books, Associated Press Stylebook for periodicals) regarding the suggested change?
- Have I done my best to verify facts or references I thought needed verification?
- How well did I proofread (typos, spelling, capitalization)?
- Have I examined every punctuation mark?
- Have I considered legal issues regarding quoted material, allegation, etc.?
- Have I looked for overuse of favorite words, sexism, ethnocentrism, etc.?
- How does the organization work overall for the piece?
The next time you get your piece back from your editor, you’ll be able to tell if your editor asked these good questions by the changes suggested. If your editor did not, you may want to look for a new editor.