Checklists born of experience can be very useful and this one by writer Elizabeth Cottrell and her editor, Karen Elliott, is especially so.
Only the last point, about digital formatting, does not apply to editing generally, which points up the fact that whatever the medium of publication, meticulous editing and proofreading are essential processes.
A non-editor friend or family member can sometimes be too polite, or so careful of damaging a promising new writer’s self-confidence (easily done!), that they avoid mentioning the errors — or, more often, are simply unaware of them. We show the same polite restraint to migrants’ struggles with English, when they would probably welcome a correction if their aim were to improve their expression.
On the other hand, well-meaning but tactless or conflicting suggestions to writers can be at best unhelpful. Editing is, after all, a learned skill and profession. Few editors do their own plumbing or electricity wiring for the same reason; they call in an expert.
One of my clients has just sent me the link to Elizabeth’s checklist, and I am pleased that we can honestly say that even without its excellent advice we did tick all 10 boxes (and then some!).
It’s a pleasure to work with a writer who values a high-quality result. This client has worked her way up the learning curve of digital publishing largely on her own, and I have learned a lot from her experience. We started off with print in mind, but after experimenting with self-publishing the e-book on Amazon, she has continued with the print version at her readers’ request.
The first criterion in Elizabeth’s 10-point list is vitally important to me in choosing the work I accept to edit: ‘does it educate, entertain or inspire?’ The second, which seems to follow naturally from that choice, is the growth of the author-editor relationship of ‘Know, Trust and Like’.
Sharing with a client a mutual desire for quality and the willingness to be almost obsessive in achieving it is (despite the stress) enormously satisfying — and Elizabeth’s and Karen’s 10 essential steps are clearly the result of such experience.
Quillpower’s rating: 10 out of 10!