One of the first steps many of our author manuscripts go through is an Editorial Analysis (for those who want to geek out Wheatmark-style, we call it an EA around the office).
What is an Editorial Analysis and why do you need one?
An Editorial Analysis helps determine what the likely usability of an author’s book, in its current form, will be by identifying its strengths and weaknesses.
The EA is designed to determine if the book is written in a way that will speak to its intended readership, if the book is written with excellent English usage, proper grammar, punctuation, and if it is written in an organized manner. It also looks at how well the book follows Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) formatting. Successful, correctly done books are formatted to a particular style that dictates how parts of the book are formatted, including even how commas are used and where the preface goes.
By having an Editorial Analysis done on your manuscript, it is easy to determine how much more work should be done on the book before it goes to layout. The EA will tell the author what level of copyediting they should have: if they need a light copy edit or maybe a more intensive developmental edit. All which should be done before your book designer begins styling your pages for print.
The Reason You Need An EA and Why You Should Listen
Successful authors have several things going for them. The first step to being a successful author is having an excellent book. This is an area to not let hubris get in the way (and quite often it does). Here are the most frequent excuses we hear for not having a completed EA done and for not listening and acting on the results:
- I’ve already edited my book, it’s fine.
- I had my friend, who is an English teacher, proofread it already.
- No one cares if the commas are CMS formatted.
- Readers will know what I mean. They aren’t stupid.
- I don’t want to spend the money.
First of all, an EA comes with nearly every package that Wheatmark offers, and, if you have one done before committing to a package, that cost will be deducted from your final sign-up fee. The cost of copyediting is more, but the final product will be worth it. It would be a shame to spend money on publishing a book, only to have it not perform because of some elements that could easily have been fixed for a few dollars more.
Two, you and your friend the English teacher are not professional book editors. It isn’t a reflection on your skills, it’s a reflection on how well-trained professional book editors are. They read tons of pages a year and are trained to know what to look for, how to look for it, and how to expertly make the correction.
And thirdly, your readers do actually care about the commas. They may not be fully aware of it, but it will bother them as they scan lines if they have been done incorrectly. Book readers have been trained for decades to expect certain guidelines to be followed and when you ignore that expectation, you frustrate them. It slows them down. Which is also why, just because you think your readers will understand a muddled concept in your book, it will be a hindrance. It will slow your readers down. Slow them down too much and they’ll stop reading the book entirely.
You’ve taken the time and energy to write a book you would like to be a success. Don’t sell it short by not using the resources available to help it be the most excellent book possible!