Welcome to another one of my bestseller boot camp bitesize trainings.
We’re looking at the six steps to publishing your own successful book.
I’m going to cover step four in this video which is all about reviewing and editing your manuscript.
When you’re writing your book as I explained in the earlier videos, you’ve got an outline to follow.
As a speaker, you’re used to elaborating on a point at will from memory.
That’s what I want you to do when you write the book, just get it from your head and onto a piece of paper because once it’s on paper, other people can start to help you and you’re not walking the lonely road of the author, having to do everything yourself.
Other people can help with making sure it makes sense, nothing is missing. It flows well. It’s logical and give you some feedback. I encourage you to get your manuscript and show it to people in your target market, perhaps offer them some sort of reward or incentive for reading it, otherwise they often don’t bother and use that feedback to then make good decisions. For example let’s say I was writing a book about history of internal combustion engine.
I send the manuscript out to my reviewers and all of the reviewers say to me “do you know what – it would really help me if you had a cut out picture of an engine so I could see the components inside. The description is really good, but it would make more sense if there was a picture.”
Now if all of your reviewers say that, then it’s a good time to go hunting around for that cut out picture of the combustion engine.
However, take another example – only one person might say they would really like to have an index in your book… because some books do have indexes don’t they, but not all of them.
Collating an index can be hard work. It’s also very precise work reering to particular points in a book that may shuffle around as it gets edited.
You’ve got to think very carefully about this – is it really worth adding an index considering the amount of work it can be, when only one person said it’s absence was an issue. Other reviewers were happy to just have a really detailed table of contents and a good table of figures to help them navigate the book.
When it’s abigous like that, and only one person requested it, then you have to make a value decision.
On the other hand, it might be there’s a typo on the front cover design. Only one person perhaps spotted it, but obviously that needs doing and it’s quick to fix, so it really is down to your instinct.
It’s really good practice to get some feedback on your draft book – don’t write it in splendid isolation because you can get blind to your own mistakes. Informally involving others can dramatically improve the quality.
Talking about quality, my second point to do with reviewing and editing is to avoid perfectionism.
Once your book is written down, then you can’t resist wanting to tinker with it. Perhaps there’s a couple of sentences that look a bit lost at the bottom of the page, so you’re going to write a few more words to shunt those sentences onto the next page. Maybe, you’ve used the phrase “in the beginning” throughout the text and then you thought “actually I want to say at the start now rather than in the beginning” and you’ll go through and swap one similar phrase for another through the whole book, which, reasistically, adds litttle value.
You might decide on the spur of the moment that you want a different size of bullet points and all these minor prefectionist things.
Tinkering like this doesn’t really add any value to the book. Polishing your final draft is something that other people can help you with and take you out of that tendency to pointlessly tweak and fiddle and tinker with the book.
Yes attention to detail is important.
Yes clean, crisp, professional presentation is important.
But constantly tweaking a word here or there for months on end is not important.
Make sure you don’t do that because it’s so easy to fall into the vicious circle of wanting to constantly perfect everything.
When you’re editing, there’s three steps to editing which you may or may not have come across in the past. The first one is called content editing and that might be when you move a whole page to a different part of the book, perhaps you’re going to put a case study at the start of the chapter rather than the end, something like that where you’re moving a big block of text from one place to another.
Then after that’s done and there’s been lots of shuffling going around, then you’ll start doing what I call the line editing. That’s where you’re looking on a sentence or paragraph basis and looking for consistency, looking for mistakes, omissions and errors. Then finally, you’ve got copy editing which is looking more at the word like level, almost like proofreading and making sure that your book hasn’t got any problems with it on a really detailed level.
Once that’s all done and your book is completely stable, then it’s ready to start the proofreading and formatting and you want to do that right at the very end. I’ll explain why when we do that particular video.