There are five critical book editing benefits for nonfiction writers that’ll make the difference between a book that takes your business or your career to the next level and a book that’s destined for obscurity.
A non-edited (or non-professionally edited) nonfiction manuscript is not only not worth publishing, but could also be dangerous to your professional reputation. Nonfiction books can make overnight experts of their authors and demand a high level of professionalism.
Why You Need to Hire a Professional Editor
The nonfiction genre is highly competitive. While you’re publishing your book to offer a new and unique approach to a problem afflicting your audience, anyone searching for a book will be bombarded by the release of thousands of other titles competing for attention.
The good news is that the vast majority of those books will be self-published without the help of a professional editor and will therefore be dismissed by poor reviews and bad word of mouth.
For this reason, it’s imperative that you belong in the exclusive club of well-edited books so that your message can stand out from the crowd.
A professional editor will ensure that your book shines and becomes a valuable proxy for your expertise. A well-edited book will swing open many doors of opportunity, from landing new clients to opening entire new markets.
The 5 Book Editing Benefits for Nonfiction Writers
Nonfiction books are expected to hit several markers for quality, and this is a job that’s ideally suited for professional editors. They’ll offer the following five benefits that will help you take your book to the next level:
Benefit 1: Message Delivery
Nonfiction books sell well when they’re able to connect with their readers and deliver a strong message in full alignment with their needs.
Although your book will by design be targeted to a specific audience, unless it’s edited in a way they can easily understand at their level, it’ll simply fail to engage them.
If your message is buried under a mountain of research and information (as relevant as they might be to your topic), it won’t reach the very people that it’s intended for. Fortunately, help is readily available.
Developmental editors are trained on message delivery. They’ll help you engage with your target audience while also bringing out your author voice.
They’ll focus on your flow of ideas and the overall structure of your book, and then they’ll help you connect with your target audience so that you can deliver a compelling message to them.
Benefit 2: Clarity
For your message to be delivered effectively it needs to be crystal clear to your audience. This is the job of the content editor.
They’ll scan your manuscript for readability and style, for example by highlighting any phrases that are clunky or hard to read, adjusting paragraphs that are unclear, fixing run-on sentences, etc.
Since nonfiction books usually include textual and graphical elements, a content editor will also recommend the best placement for any illustrations, images, graphs and tables in order to make your message flow more clearly.
Benefit 3: Accuracy
Once your message is delivered in a clear way, the focus needs to change to accuracy. As the expression says, “the devil is in the details,” so you’ll need to ensure that all the facts and figures in your book are accurate and error free.
The accuracy of the information in nonfiction books is central to the credibility of the experts who’ve written them. If you don’t double and triple check the accuracy of your book’s content, rest assured that your readers will.
Luckily for you, there’s an entire branch of professional editors who are trained on this important function: Copyeditors.
For starters, they’ll ensure the accuracy of the language in your manuscript by correcting spelling, punctuation, grammar, syntax, capitalization, and other types of common errors.
Then they’ll identify and correct factually inaccurate statements (e.g. stating “Over 370,000 people die in road crashes each year in the U.S.” instead of “Over 37,000 people die in road crashes each year in the U.S.”).
They’ll also check for misattributed quotes and names that contain errors and check for other inconsistencies, such as enclosing a phrase with double quotes on one side and single quotes on the other.
Finally, they’ll flag potential legal issues, such as libelous statements, copyright or trademark infringement, etc., so that you can make the necessary changes to be protected from legal action.
Benefit 4: Quality
Now your manuscript is almost there, but there’s a final check you need to run. You’ll need to engage the services of a professional proofreader to do a final quality check before your book goes to print.
Sometimes we think as authors that we don’t need a proofreading pass, especially after working with professional editors. In fact, after re-reading our manuscript several times without catching typos we feel everything should be good to go.
But the reality is that it’s never good to go at this stage and here’s why: Our brains are capable of processing missing information and filling in the blanks based on pre-established patterns in order to provide our lives with continuity.
So, for example, if you’ve read the phrase “There are other fish in the sea” a hundred times before, then if you’re reading a book at a good clip and you come up with “Their are other fish in the sea” your brain may not even register the typo.
The difference between professional proofreaders and authors is that the former are trained not to get caught up in the “story” so they can remain focused on the mechanics of the words instead.
In this way, they’re able to apply a virtual “fine-tooth comb” to your words to catch the stragglers that manage to get through all previous filters.
This is a critical function, because once your book goes to print and gets published, there’s no going back without incurring high cost, embarrassment or both.
Benefit 5: Professionalism
Finally, the overarching benefit of professional editing is just that: Professionalism. The best and most prolific writers in the world wouldn’t dare to put out a book without it having gone through the hands of an editor.
The reason is that they’re simply too close to the words themselves to look at them objectively. It always takes a second pair of eyes to see things clearly.
The professionalism infused by expert editors will produce a manuscript superior to anything an author could produce on their own, no matter how experienced they may be.
In this age of online book searches, where your book will likely appear side-by-side with traditionally published titles in your subject area, the bar you need to meet will be very high.
The professional touch afforded to books by a competent editor will make any other title that’s not professionally edited feel amateurish in comparison.
Also keep in mind that your investment in an editor will be an investment in your reputation, which will pay out great dividends over time since nonfiction books have a very long shelf life.
Now. It’s time to begin your search for a good nonfiction book editor. This companion article will help you get started:“How to Find A Book Editor That’s Perfect For Your Nonfiction Book.”
Leave me a comment below if you have any questions or a specific need that I can help you address – I operate an author services firm that specializes in helping entrepreneurs, professionals and business owners who want to publish books as a calling card for prospects, to establish their status as an expert or to just to generate additional leads for their businesses.
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Bennett R. Coles is an award-winning author of 6 books published through Harper Collins (NY) and Titan Publishing Group (UK). He is also the publisher at Promontory Press and the founder/CEO of Cascadia Author Services, a boutique full-service firm that specializes in premium author services specifically designed for busy professionals. Our end-to-end services include writer coaching, ghostwriting, editing, proofing, cover design, book layout, eBook production, printing, distribution and marketing.