Editing encompasses many different processes that help make your book into a whole, cohesive resource that fulfils its intended learning objectives. It takes place at the broad scale and at the granular level, as well as many stages in between.
This summary outlines how editing provides structure, appeal, and nuance to your resource, making it more understandable and easy to read.
Don’t let great be the enemy of good. Editing and revisions will always expand to fill the time allotted to it. At a certain point, you need to stop and be satisfied with your content, rather than trying to make everything ‘perfect.’
Make the text work better for its readers. Ensure that your editors keep accessibility, reading levels, and format in mind, so that everybody reading the book can find value in it.
Keep an eye on the clock. Timing is key, whether you want to reach strategic deadlines, stop yourself from over-editing, or seamlessly hand off content from one person to the next. Always watch your schedules, even if they were only best estimates, but be willing to tweak them as needed.
Roles are not written in stone. Editors can serve multiple roles, as well as provide informal feedback, act as generalist reviewers, do beta-testing, or help with formatting.
Editing can take place at many points during the book’s production, with different kinds of editors involved at each stage:
- Project managers, acting as managing editors, shape the resource as a whole, throughout the course of the project
- Content editors focus on what should be included and excluded from the book, acting as hands-on subject-matter experts
- Developmental (or structural) editors focus on how that content comes together, shaping the book’s structure so as to meet learning objectives. They need not be subject-matter experts
- Substantive editors are ideally subject-matter experts, and do a lot of work related to resolving questions and issues, and addressing areas of improvement (as identified by the developmental editor)
- Copyeditors work at the granular level, closely reading and editing for sentence structure, grammar, syntax, vocabulary, voice, and punctuation. They may also assist with permissions, citations, layout, and design details during the book’s formatting
- Proofreaders perform the final inspection and make small corrections to spelling and punctuation
Creating a positive experience for editors relies on setting out clear expectations, structured tools, and simple guidelines:
- Prepare a style guide that covers citation styles, formatting (general and specialized, like for glossaries), spelling, accessibility, etc.
- Make sure editors are aware of their roles, deadlines, and communications tools by setting up an editorial workflow and being transparent as things progress.
- Build a sense of teamwork by connecting your editors with authors, instructional designers, and other collaborators, while encouraging open dialogue among them.
- As needed, ask editors to pay attention to specific tasks, such as formatting, checking permissions and rights, gathering feedback from reviewers and testers, etc.
- Make sure content has been copyedited before peer review, so reviewers are more focused when it comes to providing feedback.
- Ask editors to provide positive feedback about well-executed or clearly explained concepts (rather than solely identifying areas that need improvement).
- If possible, find a budget to pay editors, especially a developmental editor and copyeditor.
Ultimately, the goals of your open textbook project will shape the editing needs, and you may need to keep a firm hand on things. It’s all in service of making the book a more usable and productive resource!
Read on to learn more about editing content in your open textbook.