I’ve gone through everything you did a few times now and had to reach out. THANK YOU! I am so appreciative. You went above and beyond anything I expected. I found myself nodding to my laptop as I read your recommendations. You truly helped bring this book to the next level. I will not hire anyone else for my books from here on out…that is, if you are open to working with me again. :) —James DiNannoI have nothing but good things to say about Catherine.... I appreciated the way she understood the intent of certain sections and how to make the words flow better for a specific audience. I'd definitely work with her again and highly recommend her! —Virginia Goodhart
47 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Nonfiction Book Before Having It Copy Edited
Writing is a process that's similar to the act of peeling an onion. In my experience, getting writing to flow correctly and make sense almost always requires multiple drafts and tons of revisions.
The amount of “polishing” you can do before hiring a copy editor could make a big difference in the number of red marks and suggestions you receive.
Want to make your book as awesome as possible for your copy editor? Here are ways you can get it in shipshape:
1. Write in Microsoft Word or Google Docs, which will make it easy to track changes.
2. Start strong. Begin each chapter with something intriguing, entertaining, or reader focused, such as a question, quotation, or anecdote.
3. End each chapter with a “summing up” that’s interesting and leaves your reader feeling good.
4. Peel the onion. If you tend to write “backward,” throwing your thoughts onto the page and eventually arriving at the point you want to make, consider doing a second draft to restructure all that information. Start with the main point, or at least clearly allude to it.
5. Directly address your reader as “you” and make the book as focused on their needs as possible.
6. Don’t use “we” or “us” to refer to humanity or a subset of people (for example, those who suffer from a particular condition). By doing this, you appear to assume that everyone is exactly the same, and it can come across as condescending and alienate readers who don't subscribe to your way of thinking.
7. Addressing your reader directly and as much as possible. Don’t change from “I” and “my” to “we” and “our” or “you” and “your” in the same paragraph. Ideally, stick with focusing on the reader ("you") and not you or your experience.
8. Lead your reader. Make sure every single sentence in a paragraph relates to the ones before and after it. Make sure every paragraph relates to the ones that come before and after it.
9. Get to the point. Cut out extra words, sentences, and paragraphs that aren’t relevant or adding value for your reader. The shorter and sweeter, the better.
10. Don’t start a sentence with “This” or refer to “this” if it’s not clear what the “this” is.
11. Be elegant. Avoid ending a sentence in a preposition.
12. Don’t repeat yourself or refer to something you said earlier (“As I wrote earlier…”). Don’t reference information in other books you’ve written.
13. Be understated about yourself. Don’t quote yourself in the text or above it. It’s better to quote celebrated authors and celebrities (even if would consider yourself to be one). Don't subtly market your services or other books you've written to the reader.
14. Cite the source if you’re referring to a statistic.
15. Be concise: prune every sentence of unnecessary words. For example, instead of “Why is that?” write “Why?”
16. Keep paragraphs short (3–5 sentences).
17. Keep sentences relatively short.
18. Break up dense text by adding subheads.
19. Avoid making generalizations (for example, “We’re all so busy!”).
20. Make sense. Have you left out any key words? Will your reader know what you’re talking about?
21. Be logical. Make sure each sentence and paragraph leads to the next thought.
22. Transition smoothly. Don’t sporadically switch topics. At the very least, insert a subhead to denote a new topic.
23. Write informally. Use words that people will understand. Imagine that you’re having a personal conversation with one of your readers.
24. Use contractions (“You’ve”, “Can’t”) for a friendly, informal tone.
25. Delete most details about yourself (unless you’re writing an autobiography). Save the personal anecdotes for the introduction and maybe the end.
26. Avoid sounding biased: sexist, racist, ageist, misogynist, elitist. For example, don’t assume your reader is male and married with kids.
27. Fact check all your material, including the spellings of people’s names.
28. In chapter titles: capitalize major words (this is called “headline case”).
29. In subheads: capitalize only the first word (this is called “sentence case”).
30. Emphasize words by italicizing them.
31. Emphasize the right words: only those that are begging to be emphasized.
32. Don’t use ALL CAPS for emphasis (it’s the equivalent of shouting).
33. Don’t use italic as a different font.
34. Don’t overuse exclamation points. Use them for occasional emphasis to indicate points that are truly exciting. If you use them too often, they lose their effectiveness.
35. Avoid the future tense (for instance, “You will learn about this in Chapter 2.”). Instead, use the present tense. (“I cover issues in Chapter 2.”)
36. Assume that you are your reader and read the book from their perspective.
37. Have friends and family members read the book and give you their candid input.
38. Make your content interesting. Put effort into your phrasing. For example, don’t write a subhead that’s a single word.
39. Don’t plagiarize. Credit ideas as appropriate. Rephrase others’ thoughts in your own words.
40. Don’t be preachy. Don’t tell readers that they “should” do something.
41. Write for all levels: Make sure your content would make sense to a 6th grader.
42. Do a spellcheck.
43. Do a grammar check.
44. Hire a developmental editor before having the book copy edited to ensure that it’s ready for detailed editing.
45. Use one space between sentences (not two).
46. Review this checklist.
47. Have fun! Enjoy the process of working on your book, whether it takes you two months or two years.
I'm focused on copy editing and proofreading non-fiction books that inspire and empower people: women, men, couples, singles, baby boomers, millennials, business owners, health advocates, activists, speakers, parents, non-parents, entrepreneurs, writers, artists, health-care professionals, and others.
I also edit marketing and technical content for companies. I specialize in blogs, articles, white papers, and web sites.
● Helped non-native-English-speaking writers improve their English grammar and usage: created editorial style guide and weekly style tip
● Edited and proofread software training courses, course certification content, and technical help articles
Edited and enhanced exam questions about Google search, display, mobile, video, and shopping advertising, as well as related study guide material and UI content
Edited web content to help eBay sellers promote their listings, help eBay users create item collections, and simplify buyer-focused help pages
● Edited and proofread web marketing copy and promotional content
● Improved conversions by 12%, content quality by 35%; 66% of customers preferred new messaging; achieved results by strategically rewriting landing page
● Wrote and maintained editorial style guide
● Edited trade paperback books about the environment and politics, including The
Recycler’s Handbook, The Women’s Voting Guide, and Kid Heroes of the Environment
● Managed team of writers and researchers, ghost-wrote newspaper columns, promoted books
Aimed at advising and amusing girls age 12 and up, this collection includes quotations from 500 famous women, including suffragists, pioneers, politicians, moms, musicians, athletes, and actors. The quotes are grouped by categories, such as friendship, confidence, and creativity.
With quotes, suggestions, poems, and advice from celebrities, such as Beyonce Knowles and Amelia Earhart, provides young girls with encouragement and inspiration for achieving success in any career they wish to pursue. Original.
A handbook for girls ages ten to sixteen familiarizes them with the basic issues affecting girls and women today and explains how to cultivate a healthy self-image, presenting a mix of facts, activities, profiles, poems, and resource lists. Original.
A collection of true stories, quotes, poems, and personal advice on various aspects of romantic relationships and being in love includes work by Oprah Winfrey, Sarah Jessica Parker, Amy Tan, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and others.
The Girls' Book of Friendship published by Little, Brown and Co. for Hallmark Card (2003) [Hardcover]
AAL Member Benefit edition
In Dotcom Divas, prepare to meet some of the most talented, energetic, and visionary Internet entrepreneurs who ever plunged into the e-business revolution. And, oh, by the way -- they're all women. Industry insider, Elizabeth Carlassare, introduces readers to the inspiring women founders of 20 Internet companies, including LookSmart, EDGAR Online, E-Loan, RightWorks, and Marimba. In Dotcom Di... read more
Discover the world’s most comprehensive book on dating, romance, and the secrets of a happy love life. Finding the man of your dreams just got easier, thanks to this empowering, no-nonsense guide for women seeking real connections and long-term commitment. How to Find & Keep Your Perfect Man will revolutionize the way you think of men and your relationships with them. Drawing on a lifetime of ... read more
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Versatile editor with more than 15 years of experience in educational publishing at major houses and across a variety of subjects
Collaborative editor and bestselling ghostwriter with 15 years of publishing experience, specializing in memoir and how-to.