woman writing

Author in the Making? Book-Editing Must-Know Tips

So you’re writing an e-book, or maybe even a real book, to enhance your line of coaching or other products? Congratulations! Your book will be in print, circulating indefinitely. That’s a BIG deal.

A book or e-book will make huge forward strides for you and your personal brand. Your name and reputation is attached to this work, so you REALLY want to make sure the content presents in flawless form. Clear, succinct writing keeps people alert and interested in what you have to say.

If you want your book to be a total page-turner, then edit to perfect.

In the same way that you hired an expert to help you “clean up” your website, you will want to do the same with your book or e-book. Some advice:

Writing and editing are two completely different skills.

You might feel comfortable writing for the web. On your blog, you slip into the flow easily, and “hear” your own voice emerging as you type. Book editing is a VERY different technique and process from this kind of writing. When you edit, you delete from here, insert over there, move entire paragraphs, and so forth. In the end, you want to retain the same quality and energy in the writing. This is MUCH more difficult than it sounds.

Strong writing requires that you shift back and forth from “edit” to “write” mode.

Editing essentially breaks the flow of what you just wrote. So once you’re done moving and fitting text into new places, you MUST become the writer again. Return to the place you were when pouring thoughts onto paper. If there’s an edited draft to your left, there should be a blank sheet of paper or document to your right. This is where you “rewrite” what you just edited. Yes, you MUST do this if you want to maintain the flow of your original work.

Read it out loud.

Each time you rewrite a paragraph or section, read it aloud. Pay attention to the beat or rhythm, and watch for stumbling points. Too many long sentences will overwhelm the reader and lessen the impact of your words. Too many short, choppy sentences weakens your writing. Check for proper word variance. Did you use the same term repeatedly? Go and fetch your thesaurus. When you’re done tweaking, read it out loud AGAIN.

Too many editors will destroy your book.

In a former life, I worked in a marketing department where everyone and their little sister was invited to edit the master document. The effects of this were disastrous. Not only was the writing reduced to ineffective drivel, but it wreaked havoc on productivity. If you are writing a book or e-book, by all means have someone else look at it. But limit to just a few qualified experts. Assign key people to oversee and critique certain aspects of the project. For example, your team might be:

writer/”ideas” person (either you or a professional ghost writer)

editor (should be someone with publishing experience – NOT your niece the college intern)

stylist (graphic designer who knows how to style and format book content)

Editing Guidelines for Your Book or E-book:

Omit repeated words throughout the same paragraph and chapter.

If you have three sentences in consecutive order, and the word “support” or the phrase “make a change” appears in all three of them, the word or phrase needs to be altered in two of the sentences.

Trim down those bulky sentences.

For example, you don’t need to say, “It’s time to think about engaging in a change.” You just say, “It’s time to change.” Or, at worst, “It’s time to make a change.” This type of “heaviness” in writing makes it difficult to understand and absorb. Also break up long paragraphs. Your reader needs a breather now and then.

Avoid repeating ideas.

Suppose you wrote, “A nutritionist can help you create a diet plan that works for you. Rely on someone who has professional experience developing healthy eating plans to get you on the path to weight loss success.” Different wording, but essentially I just said the same thing twice. All you’re doing here is adding empty calories to your book!

Format everything.

When you line edit, you “zoom in” on the tiny details. When you format, you “zoom out” to get an overall feel for the visual presentation. How’s the spacing between paragraphs? Are there resting points in the form of white space, or does the eye get lost? What about use of bolded headers and bulleted lists? Proper formatting can mean the difference between a book that gets read, enjoyed, and recommended to others, and one that lands in the 25-cent yard sale pile.

As a copywriting consultant, I assist many coaches in polishing and perfecting their marketing materials. A LOT know good writing when they see it, but sometimes have trouble understanding WHY it’s so effective. There are two reasons the “A-List” coaches are so good at what they do:

Colorful ideas. Great writers are conceptual and metaphorical. They paint visuals with words, and that’s a tool for helping people understand and recall your meaning.

VERY tight, clean writing. There’s no “muck” that you must wade through to get to the meat of the writing.

Book writing is a huge undertaking that you should be commended for. But please, don’t do it alone. I STRONGLY recommend that you have your book or e-book edited by a legitimate professional who has considerable experience and the portfolio to prove it.

The best of luck with your writing project! Don’t quit until this is PERFECT.

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