This month’s focus is on going from blog to book. After all, that’s what this blog is all about—helping you take your book idea and turn it into a book. However, I know some readers are also trying to book their blogs (repurpose posts into a book), and I hope to write about that this month as well. I’m at the tail end of turning my blog—this one—into a book, so I’m going to share some of my experiences with you and tell you what I learned. I’m going to ask some blog-to-book authors to share their experiences as well.
I’m going to start the month off by discussing the editing and revising process. For your blogged book to become an ebook or printed book–and to succeed, it needs editing and lots of it. And it needs professional editing, not just a look see from your favorite English teacher or family member who is a grammar buff or a good writer. I wrote one post about beginning to edit my blogged book a while ago. You can read it here. Let me pick up where that one left off.
Once I had finished my revisions and edits and sent my manuscript off to the publisher to meet the deadline, which was part of my contract, the developmental editor at Writer’s Digest Books got her hands on my work. She went through the manuscript with a fine tooth comb looking for any way we could improve the book. When I got the manuscript back, there were notes from her asking me to make changes and to do things like:
- Add resources
- Add tips and tools
- Add examples
- Elaborate on certain topics, sentences, etc.
- Cut or move copy
This is pretty typical stuff as far as developmental editing goes. I found it interesting given that I am normally doing this work for other writers. I also found that I agreed with most of what she asked me to do and thought the suggestions made the book better.
In the process of adding the resources, the need for resources at the back of the book was eliminated. I had told the publisher this would be a source of backmatter.
One thing we really struggled with in the editing process, however, was repetition. I’m pointing that out so those of you blogging your books can watch for it already as you write. I’m not sure, however, that there is a good way to get rid of this issue as you blog. By being aware of the fact that it may be a problem in the printed book, though, you can pinpoint repetition and redundancies in the manuscript you are creating off line from the get go, I think. Let me explain.
As I edited and revised initially, I struggled to find all the places I had repeated information. Since a blog reader can show up at your blog at any given point in the book (unlike in a book where a readers starts at the beginning reads through to the end in most cases), often you do have to repeat information as you compose posts. Another way to handle this is to send the reader to another post with a link, but sometimes that’s not effective. In any case, it became blatantly apparent to me that repetition was an issue, and I didn’t think I’d eliminated it totally on my own. So, I alerted the editor prior to the developmental editing stage. I noticed that this remained a problem as I worked on the developmental edits, and I mentioned it again when I turned in my changes.
When I got the manuscript back after then next round of editing, which was line editing (for grammar, punctuation, sentence strength, etc.), I thought there were still repetition and redundancy issues. To be honest, though, I’d read the book so many times, it all sounded like repetition to me! So, I had to be really careful in my read through and ask the editors and proofreaders at Writer’s Digest Books once again to keep their eyes open for this.
Okay…on to the line edits. I got these back as a hard copy. I was a bit freaked out by this, since my handwriting pretty much is a sloppy mess even my family can’t read. The developmental edits were completed on the computer using Microsoft Word’s Track Changes function, which is what I use for all editing with my clients – developmental and line. The line edits showed up as made in Track Changes but I had to respond to them on the hard copy. This means that I had to write down any changes I had, and I had to do it neatly enough for someone to understand. This turned out to mean that in some cases I had to type out my changes. What a pain in the rear end.
I agreed with most of these changes, but the line editor and I did have some differences in opinion on comma usage and other such things. It’s tough to work as an editor and then have your work edited. I’m not really too attached to my writing, but I am attached to having my writing well edited and end up reading well.
At that point, I sent off the hard copy by snail mail. And I didn’t see it again. Until this week, when I got my first glimpse of the actual book as a PDF all designed and everything! (And I immediately found a mistake…) I believe it will still go through proofreading at this point and indexing; and I think the indexer also does a bit of proofing along the way. I have not heard if I get one last read through or not.
So, that was my experience of the editing process, and the one BIG issue that came up. If you’ve got anything to add from your own experience, please do! What issues have you encountered while editing your blogged book? Or what issues are you currently having as you edit your manuscript?
And if you aren’t at the editing stage yet, here’ s my advice: It’s never too early to get out the dreaded red pen and start the self-editing process–or ask a critique group to take a stab at your manuscript. You might also consider getting an editor or writing coach to help you out early on so you have a polished manuscript to turn into an agent or publisher when the time comes.