A Bit About How We Edit

Another snippet from the continuing dialog on Slashdot. Here’s my response to someone’s question about the level of editing at No Starch Press.


I’ve been publishing technical books since 1991. In my experience, and according to reports form the authors we’ve worked with, there doesn’t seem to be a company that consistently edits every title as deeply as we do. Of course I may be wrong and this information is based only on my experience with other publishers and reports from other authors.

The reports that I get from authors are either that their work is left basically unedited (or it’s left to a copyeditor to clean up), or, as was the case with one large publisher that I worked with in the 1990s, a couple of chapters are edited and then the authors are left on their own.

On all of our titles, one of our in-house editors does a developmental edit first. This edit may involve rewriting/reorganizing chapters; extensive queries; reworking paragraphs and sentences; and so on. Or, if the book needs minimal editing, chapters may move on to technical review, once our editor has approved them.

Once chapters are returned by the technical reviewer and cleaned up (by author and editor), they move onto copyedit. Once through copyedit they move onto proofreading. Our authors see every stage of the process.

If you’ve been receiving this level of editing that’s great news. Every publisher in the tech book business should be doing a similar level of editing, as necessary. I wish they all would because the business would be better for it.