Lynn Palermo, who blogs at TheArmchairGenealogist.com, offers some interesting and useful advice to people writing family histories and memoirs in her post Seven Key Lessons to Editing Your Family History.
Here's her list:
Lesson 1 - Never attempt to be writer and editor.
Lesson 2- Prepare from day one for the editing process.
Lesson 3- Do not take corrections personally.
Lesson 4- Regardless of whether you are self-publishing, or using a printer, don’t shy away from paying for a proof or purchasing an advance copy.
Lesson 5 – Resist the temptation for your book to be “a surprise for the family.”
Lesson 6- There will be mistakes.
Lesson 7 – Family members are very understanding of the work that goes into writing a family history book and are very generous with their praise, and less worried about mistakes.
Good advice! All of these lessons are important. But a couple of them need some discussion for people new to the process of working with an editor.
In lesson two Palermo recommends developing a system to track your documentation. She suggests a binder titled Primary Sources with a section for each person in the book and copies of all source material about that person. Says Palermo, “This book will later be your editors go to source to ensure all information has been transposed accurately from their primary source.” The term used in publishing for this process is “fact checking.” It is important to understand that fact checking is an additional service that editors may provide, but it is not something an editor routinely does. If you want your facts checked make sure to arrange for that specific service.
A second note regarding editorial services is to distinguish between content or developmental editing and copy editing. Again, each is a separate service. A content or developmental edit focuses on the effectiveness with which your tell the story. It looks at how to improve your manuscript by adding detail to clarify or enrich stories, moving stories from one place to another where they will fit more coherently or deleting sections of the draft that are repetitive, unclear, or don’t logically fit. A content edit is a collaborative process of heightening your effectiveness as a storyteller. A copy edit focuses instead on correctness. Your copy editor will look at your draft for errors in grammar, spelling, word usage, punctuation, etc. to produce an error-free manuscript for publication. Make sure that you arrange for the kind of editing services you want for your manuscript before handing it over to the editor you have chosen.
Finally, it is important to understand that fact checking, content editing and copy editing may be done by the same person or by different people depending upon your desires. Just make sure that you have made clear with whomever you call upon to edit your book exactly what service you want them to provide.
Click here to read Lynn Palermo’s full post.