How to Edit Your Book – Method 1

With reprint permission, I’m sharing this wonderful post by Guy Kawasaki. Recently, I’ve heard several writers say they are done with their book. They aren’t going to edit it, because they’ve seen books by best-selling authors with grammatical errors and if the big guys don’t have to edit, why spend all that additional time and money editing? Guy points out some very valid reasons why it is always better to edit, edit, edit – and here he’s pointed out some practical and powerful ways to get your editing support network established! Hope you find this helpful! Nancy Q. 


How to Edit your Book – Method 1: Friends, Family, and Coworkers

This chapter explains how to transform your self-edited manuscript into a finished manuscript. A high-quality book requires extensive testing and copy editing. You can get these processes done without a traditional publisher, but you cannot eliminate them. Your goal is a book that looks and feels as good as any book from a big-time, traditional publisher.

Publishing a book, whether a traditional publisher does it or you do it yourself, requires two kinds of editing. First, content editing helps you make your book more appealing by changing the organization, structure, content, and style of your manuscript. Second, copy editing is what turns an amateurish book into a polished, professional one.

The self-edited author is as foolish as the self-medicated patient. In Let’s Get Digital,, David Gaughran provides an example of how Esquire editor Gordon Lish edited Raymond Carver’s short story “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” Lish’s editing marks on the original version shows how much value a content editor can add:

If you think you’re the first author in the history of mankind who doesn’t need a copy editor, keep two examples in mind: First, in 2010, Penguin Australia published a book called The Pasta Bible. The recipe for tagliatelle called for “salt and freshly ground black people.” Penguin had to destroy seven thousand copies because of this gaffe although sales of the book quadrupled because of the publicity.

Second, every time I turn in the “final” copy of a book, I believe that it’s perfect. In APE’s case, upward of seventy-five people reviewed the manuscript, and Shawn and I read it until we were sick of it. Take a wild guess at how many errors our copy editor found. The answer is 1,500. You read that right: one thousand five hundred, and you may still find some, because we went right to publishing after copy editing even though traditional publishers proofread a book twice after copy editing. If you see any errors, please send me an email at

You’re going to read this again and again in APE: you cannot eliminate the need for a copy editor. There are four methods to obtain both kinds of editing: enlisting friends, family, and coworkers; tapping niche communities; crowd-sourcing; and hiring professionals. I do all four for every book! You can never get too much editing and feedback.
I send the first complete draft of my manuscripts to an inner sanctum of five to ten people. I’ve known them for years and trust their judgment. I want them to act like “book murderers,” a term Michael Alvear coined in his book Make a Killing on Kindle,

If you’re starting your writing career, you may not have a cadre of friends, family, and coworkers to murder your book, but you must respect some people. Now is the time to tap these relationships.

Shawn is decades younger than me, and he’s on his fourth book. His family and friends are not interested in reading an iOS development book, so he asks for volunteer readers when speaking at conferences. Each volunteer receives a “beta version” of chapters as well as the final book as a PDF a few weeks before its public release.

Shawn’s method illustrates an important concept: If you don’t ask, you don’t get. I push this concept to the edge. For example, I noticed that Kristen Eckstein left insightful and helpful comments on my Google+ posts about publishing, so I contacted her to see if she’d like to read the manuscript of APE. She agreed, and she returned the manuscript with 254 insertions, 165 deletions, 30 format changes, and 275 comments. I used 90 percent of them. From now on, she’s on the friends and family list for my future books.

Many thanks to Guy for letting us share this information – I couldn’t agree more! See you Sunday and keep reading and writing! Nancy Q.


About NL Quatrano

Award-winning author, speaker, editor and ghost writer, Nancy owns a full-time editing, writing and specialty publishing business: On-Target Words/WC Publishing. Volunteer/member of professional writing organizations including Florida Writers Assoc., Sisters in Crime, and AWAI. 2010 Professional Woman of the Year by the NAPW. Linked in Editor Pick May 2013. International Women's Leadership Association nominee for Outstanding Leadership 2014.
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2 Responses to How to Edit Your Book – Method 1

  1. owenobs says:

    body{font-size:10pt;font-family:arial,sans-serif;background-color:#ffffff;color:black;}p{margin:0px;}  did we gots a date not tattooed on my forehead ?

    • Nancy Quatrano says:

      Hello, Jack!! Yes, we’ve got a standing appointment for every Wednesday and Sunday, right here at the old Faith, Hope and Grace blog! I’m back to posting new info twice a week, so hope you’ll keep checking in! And by the way – we’ve critiqued on occasion which is very important to get content right on our writing, but do you have any editing tips you’d like to share?

      Sincerely, Nancy Quatrano

      On-Target Words: Coaching, Editing, Media Kits and Press Releases that work! Website: Blog:Faith, Hope & Grace: Information for Writers Facebook: Nancy Quatrano 386-546-5164

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