A Beginner’s Guide To The Manuscript Editing Procedure

Have you ever considered what it would feel like to publish a novel or short story?  Many people choose to self-publish books, but what is the procedure if you opt to work with a book editor in a traditional publishing house?  In the time that a literary agent sells your novel to a book publisher, and you sign a contract, you and the editor may have already communicated regarding the book content.  Of course, delivering the content does not mean the editing process is complete; it means that the work is only beginning.  This article will provide information on the manuscript editing procedure.

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During the book editing phase, an editor will have a great deal to say regarding the content and people tend to work together for some time to arrive at an agreed-up final book manuscript.  It is important to note that the exact length of time between editing will vary greatly depending on the book’s overall production schedule, as well as the individual editor.  For example, a writer may need to wait months for feedback on a single chapter and then have only two or three days to perform a full chapter rewrite.  This is only one scenario, and the amount of communication will depend on the nature or extent of feedback with the number of requested changes.


The first step in a manuscript editing procedure the author needs to submit the manuscript to the editor based on the contractual due date.  This manuscript is known as the first pass manuscript because the editor is taking a ‘first pass’ at the content and can make various general comments about the script.  The majority of good editors will perform developmental edits on a first pass manuscript, and requests for changes will be made at this point.  Change requests can include a need for additional text, clarification of information, removing text, or moving chapters around for narrative flow.


Revisions in the manuscript editing procedure can be managed on a digital or printed manuscript or a combination of both styles.  In any case, care of the version is paramount as there is typically only a single master copy with revisions.  This is passed from writer to editor, and it is essential that it is not lost or damaged.


A second pass manuscript involves the writer handing a second version of the manuscript to the editor.  Editors will line-edit second pass manuscripts meaning that she or he will go over the content with a fine-tooth comb pointing out any errors in the version.  The editor may request additional clarifications, corrections, and make various comments on the second pass script when returning it to the writer.  When the writer makes these corrections, the final manuscript is sent to the chosen editor.


If the editor in question is happy with the final manuscript, it will be ‘accepted’ and the writer’s payment upon acceptance can be triggered.  This means that most writers are only paid for their work after the manuscript editing procedure is completed and the version moves onto the copyeditor for reviewing.


As can be seen, editing a manuscript can be tiresome; however, if you understand the procedure, you can ensure that the manuscript is carefully edited and receive payment quickly.