Editing: How important is it, really? (Part 2)

Cover Pictures


You’ve sparked the interest of your readers with a great start.

No typos, the grammar is something Jane Austen would be proud of, and the story engages with a great plot, stimulating flow, and characters that would inspire a generation of wannabees. So, what else do you need?

Following on from Part 1 of this blog that described the absolutes you MUST do with your writing and editing, here are the other things you NEED to do, SHOULD do, and what would be NICE to do.

If you missed part 1, and it pains you to miss out, we recommend that you follow this link and start there.


These elements are essential to your writing, but can be in a lesser form than those that MUST be done; a bit like you MUST have oxygen, water and food to survive, but a four bedroom home with an ensuite is a NICE to have. Let’s face it, to survive, a shelter comprising a dry cave will do.

You can’t judge a book by its cover

The old saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover” is probably true, but it really helps your book to have a great cover to attract an audience. Similarly, a catchy title will do the same. But, no matter how brilliant the cover or title are, the writing that lies within the front and back covers still has to live up to the hype and engage its readers.

“But what has this to do with editing?” I hear you ask. At the cover design stage, not much, but just wait until you get the proof back from the graphic design artist (please use one who has a reputation and not just your niece who has a ‘flare’ for it). Look at it carefully with a proofing eye. Check every little detail, such as the spelling in the title, the words on the spine, and the blurb at the back. It’s too late to say, ‘Whoopsie’ after the print run has gone through and the typo is there for all to see in graphic detail (pun intended) on all 500+ copies.


Depending on how you are publishing your writing – as a book, a short story or poem, in an anthology with many other works, or in an online or digital format – you should read through the finished product from top to bottom. Yes, I know, you’ve already done it in the MUST dos, but it’s a SHOULD do after you receive your proof copy. It’s amazing how many times something is missed.


You’ve now reached the point where there aren’t too many more things to do, so you can take a proverbial breather and look at your product. First question to ask is, “Do you like it?” Be honest. This is the last chance you get to change things.

Do you like the layout, font, size of font, formatting? Do you like the feel of the paper? Is it too thin or thick? Are the margins too small? Is there enough ‘white space’ on the page so the reader can rest their eyes while reading and not feel like they’re trapped in a cage? Do you want a paperback as well as a hard back, an eBook or an audiobook? (Be aware that an audiobook is a whole different kettle of fish! Maybe another blog…)

If you’ve had professional help with the layout, or you’re running with a group that chooses the style for your type of book, then you don’t have many options, but if you have self-published, then you can choose what you like. Research how other similar publications are done. Visualise your work in the same product setting. Does this look better? If you’re not sure, ask a friend or colleague who you trust implicitly to give their opinion. Then be prepared to listen without getting offended or hurt. If you listen with an open mind, you might hear something that you can learn from and gain a benefit. Change doesn’t have to be bad.

On the other hand, if you like what you see, then all is well and good. Success awaits!

Kerri Yarsley – Contributor

Kerri’s love of books really took off from her Year 12 readers: Pride and Prejudice, The Go-Between, The Once and Future King, and The Lord of the Rings (which she read in full six times that year, taught herself Elvish and translated the Elvish script on the book’s cover). This opened up a vast world of fantasy and imagination which has stayed with Kerri ever since.

A decade or two later, Kerri forged a career in the training and instructional design space, creating materials and courses for computer systems and applications. This world had videos, audios and magic! Creativity could burst forth.

So, Kerri decided to write a book – The Instruction Manual for Kids – Parent’s Edition. She had the experience of a couple of decades in both areas – kids and instruction manuals – so what could go wrong?

You can find out more about Kerri here…

One Comment on “Editing: How important is it, really? (Part 2)

  1. Pingback: How important is Editing? (Part One) - Gold Coast Writers' Association

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