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The Editorial Process: What to Know Before Publishing Your Book

A few weeks ago we talked about the difference between edition (editorial) and editing (bilingual). This time, let’s talk a little more about the editorial process; let’s see what happens when we want to publish a book.

The process begins when someone has a work to publish. It can be a novel, an essay, a story, a doctoral thesis… In the first step, the author submits the manuscript to the editor, who must read the text, make sure it is suitable to publish and correct it from a grammatical and stylistic standpoint. The author and the editor must be in constant contact so that they can exchange opinions and make any necessary enquiries.

Once the text has been corrected from a stylistic standpoint, the design stage begins. Here, among many other issues, characteristics such as the size of the book, the size of the characters, the type of font and line spacing are defined. The cover is also designed and the images and texts that will be incorporated in each of its parts are chosen. In this stage, for example, the characteristics of the margins are decided: if the page number appears in the upper or lower part of the page, to the right or to the left; if the title of the book, the chapter, the author is included… When all this is decided, the text is turned over to the design program, and everything begins to take shape.

Once the author and editor are satisfied with the design of the book, a sample copy is printed, a kind of draft. In this copy, which is called a galley proof, the distribution of the text is reviewed and problems such as widows and orphans are pointed out. A widow is the last line of a paragraph that is left dangling at the top or bottom of a column, separated from the rest of the paragraph. An orphan is the first line of a paragraph that appears by itself at the bottom of a page or column. Syntactic or orthographic problems that have not been corrected in the first correction are also indicated.

When all the previous issues have been resolved, the long-awaited moment arrives: the books are printed and bound. Or, otherwise, the digital edition is prepared. In today’s world, it is increasingly common for books to have both a printed and a digital version. This is the end of the actual editing process and the dissemination stage, and the beginning of the distribution and sale of the copies.

This is, in general terms, the process of editing a book. There may be some variants depending on the situation or each publisher. For example, if the publishing house is a university, you may have to pass a contest or a rigorous process of text selection. In addition, it is likely that, if it is a scientific paper or a thesis, the author must adapt the text according to the requirements of the institution, such as the type of bibliographic citation, the number of pages or the type and size of the source.

If you are thinking about publishing your book, you already know what to expect. It’s a long process and it may seem a bit tedious, but a professional editor knows every step and will help you through the whole process.

If you’re interested in learning more, “Editing vs. Edition” is a great place to start.