I once heard from an accomplished cookbook author (one that has written more than 20 books and won a slew of awards) that there is no such thing as a perfect book and that you will always invariably find at least one typo in any given book.  One thing is to find one typo in the whole book…  Another thing altogether is to find one typo every three paragraphs or to consistently misspell words or use incorrect grammar structure.  If you are in the former, you are just human…. If you are in the latter group, you probably are just plain sloppy and readers take issue with that!  Therefore I can’t stress the importance of the editing and proofreading process.

I must have proofread my manuscript about five times before I THOUGHT it was final and trust me it still had a lot of mistakes.  The mistakes were there not because I didn’t know how to write properly or because I was sloppy but because I had looked at the manuscript for so long, I could no longer see the mistakes.  Hence, you are well served by having others proofread and edit your manuscript.  I had two phenomenal editors and they caught so many things I could no longer see.  I was fortunate enough to have these two phenomenal editors volunteer their time… While I tend to believe that you get what you pay for, this was rather an exception…  I knew they both had a high level of attention to detail; that they had an incredible knowledge about food and cooking, and most importantly, that they were committed to my success.  If you have someone that is not committed to your success, with a little attention to detail or without an understanding of the subject matter, his or her contribution will end up being half-baked!  If you are not fortunate enough to find high-performing volunteers like I did, then I highly recommend that you hire a professional editor or proofreader.  It is money well spent, as you alone will be unable to catch a lot of things that will be obvious to them. 

My proofreaders used the track changes feature of word, which allowed me to review their suggestions before making them permanent.  In addition, it ensured that any modification would not change my voice.  I had my proofreaders edit the manuscript while I was working on the photography.  There is no set rule as to when you should edit your manuscript.  But you certainly will want to complete all editing BEFORE you proceed to the design phase.  This will avoid a lot of rework as designers exist to design and layout the books not to catch your typos!

Another thing that you will need to include in your final manuscript for the designer is the ISBN and LCCN in the copyrights page

  • An ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is essentially a product identifier used by publishers, booksellers, libraries, internet retailers and distributors for ordering, listing, sales records and stock control purposes. The ISBN identifies the registrant as well as the specific title, edition and format.  ISBN’s can be purchased individually or in packs of 10.  I highly recommend the pack of 10 as it is a better value.  If you think you will have an e-book version, a hardback version and a paperback version, you will need one number for each format.  Finally, ISBN’s that are sold individually typically have an identifier that identifies you as a single book publisher and many retailers and book distributors will not work with single book publishers. To obtain an ISBN, visit http://www.bowker.com/products/ISBN-US.html.
  • While you are at it, you will also want to purchase a barcode that will go along with your ISBN.  The barcode contains the ISBN number as well as the price embedded in it so retailers can scan it to obtain this information.  Otherwise they would have to apply unsightly price stickers to the cover of you book.  The barcode can be obtained in conjunction with the ISBN’s.
  • A LCCN (Library of Congress Control Number) is a unique identification number that the Library of Congress assigns to the catalog record created for each book in its cataloged collections. This is the number librarians use to locate a specific Library of Congress catalog record in the national databases and to order catalog cards from the Library of Congress or from commercial suppliers.  Without a LCCN, a library will not carry your book.  LCCN’s are free and can be obtained by visiting http://www.loc.gov/publish/pcn/ .

With fully edited a manuscript and the various identifiers discussed above, you are now ready to move onto designing the book.