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Sandra Peoples | Next Step Editing


eBook Information:

ebooks: Speechless: Finding God’s Grace in My Son’s Autism, Beyond the Basics: 30 Days to Better Writing, Love Your Neighbor: A 14-Day Guide plus Held: Learning to Live in God’s Grip (a Bible Study for Special Needs Parents), coming this fall


Professional Services:

ebook editing


Social Media:


Case Study:

As a professional who has seen a variety of ebooks, what do you think sets the great books apart from the okay ones?
The best ebooks have a specific target audience and strong purpose statement. The best way to make sure your book is great is to do a book proposal just for your own reference. In their book Self Publish, Erin and Teri Lynne do a great job walking you through this process. Once you identify your market and purpose, your content gets better. It’s easy to ask yourself “Does this chapter support my message or take away from it?” and “Will my audience relate to this illustration or do I need to add another one?” Books are written to help people, to solve problems. Make sure every sentence of your book works toward that goal.

The #1 quality of just ok ones? A rushed job. Clients want to rush to publish a book and don’t realize the time it takes to make it great. My husband and I wrote our upcoming book together. As we worked he said, “I don’t want to waste time.” But there is no wasting time in book writing. It’s a process. Often a long process. Giving it the time it deserves isn’t a waste—it’s what will set it apart from the others. Take time to write. Give your editor time to edit. Take your time making the changes he/she suggests. Take time to send it back to your editor for another read through if possible. Then take your time to make it great. I’ve purchased ebooks before and haven’t made it past the first chapter because it was filled with mistakes. I’ve even returned ebooks and gotten my money back from Amazon if it’s too bad. Your audience trusts you as the author to honor the money and time they are investing in your book. Take that seriously and make it worth their investment in you.

What do you think is the benefit of hiring an outside editor to review an ebook for publishing? As a side note, I'd love to know – did you hire an outside editor for your ebooks?
John E. McIntyre (editor for The Baltimore Sun) says, “If you’re your own editor, you’re working without a net.” You can do it, but it’s risky. It’s almost impossible to catch every mistake you make when writing. You often read what you meant to write instead of what you may have actually written. Especially when you’ve been working on the same book for months and the words start blurring together because you’ve read them so many times.

I offer two types of editing, one that focuses on copy editing (fixing mistakes) and one that also makes suggestions for developing ideas and communicating clearly. I believe everyone can benefit from having a professional editor work on their books. My goal is not just to make my clients’ writing better, but to make them better writers.

I hired my first editor four years ago to help me with a book proposal. Since then, she has edited two self-published ebooks for me and one I give away on my website. Every time we’ve worked together I’ve learned something new. She’s so familiar with my writing, she can correct mistakes without taking away my voice or point of view. I’m thankful we just happened to sit at the same table at a conference almost five years ago and she handed me her card.

What mistakes do you see people making the most often in ebooks that you as an editor can help prevent?
Many of my clients are blog writers. They write each day and are very skilled at it. But there are differences in blog writing and book writing. Book writers follow the Chicago Manual of Style on issues of formatting, typesetting, punctuation, and grammar. For example, the CMS gives guidelines on when writers should use an em dash instead of an en dash and how to format the correct spacing around the em dash. Many of my clients need guidance to make sure they are following book-writing rules.

Ebook writers also need guidance when it comes to following copyright law, since they are making money from selling their books. I’ve had to advise many clients to take song lyrics out of their self-published books. There is just too much red tape involved and the possibility of being sued for even two lines of a song is too great. If they quote other sources, they need help formatting the citations correctly.

Even when my clients are strong writers, they need help with the extra stuff that goes into book writing. Many don’t know the rules and standards of the process, and that’s where I can help the most.

How far in advance should ebook authors contact an editor and send them their manuscript for editing?
The best way to figure this out is to work backward from your release date. On average (and especially if this is your first time to self-publish), your book should be edited two months before you want to release it. Editors’ timelines will vary, but most can put you on their calendars one to two months from the current date. If there’s a specific editor you know you want, I suggest making contact two months before you expect your book to be finished.

It takes me about a week to complete edits and takes the client at least a few days to make the changes I suggest. Many clients want a second read-through at this point and that takes an additional week.

Bottom line: book your editor early enough to get the one you want and not feel rushed. Three to four months before you plan to release is ideal

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