What are trade books?

Trade books probably have the largest market in comparison to other types of book. That’s because they are intended for a general readership and cover a variety of genres: biographies, autobiographies, memoirs, self-help, business, mystery, historic fiction, thriller, romance, fantasy, health, children’s literature, cookbook – the list is quite extensive. You find them at bookstores and libraries.

Why is the role of editors and proofreaders significant?

In the years that I have been operating in the publishing industry while assisting authors to self-publish their books, I have witnessed and can say with certainty that the significance of editors and proofreaders in trade book projects is not understood. In fact, it is overlooked. If editing and proofreading were so easy, the services of language practitioners wouldn’t be needed, right? Yet the services of these professionals are required; not only because the authors may not have the time to edit and proofread their manuscripts but, most importantly, because expertise is needed that anyone who hasn’t done the necessary courses and training won’t have.

Many authors, especially first-time authors who opt for the self-publishing route, don’t understand the work that goes into a book to ensure that it is completed according to internationally recognised publishing standards. The important thing to note is that editors and proofreaders do much more than anyone thinks. It all depends on the expertise of the writer in language and writing, which ultimately determines how much work is required on the manuscript. If you want a book to be at the standard that publishing houses aspire to – which should be the case for all books – you need to understand the significance of the expertise that language practitioners provide.

Many different publishing terms are used when it comes to the preparation of manuscripts for publication. There’s copy-editing, substantive or structural editing, developmental editing and stylistic editing. There’s blind proofreading, second-eye proofreading and comparative proofreading. There are house-style guides and style sheets for consistency purposes and there are different referencing styles. It may sound like a lot of jargon until we break down what each task entails and their purpose.

As a self-published author, you may have the freedom to choose which of the services and expertise mentioned you want a language practitioner to provide. And they will do as you request and stick to that, nothing more, but you would be risking the overall quality of your book.

It’s not just about not having spelling errors corrected. It’s about having a final product that is error-free in all aspects, consistent, complete, palatable to the reader, caters to that specific genre and intended audience, and is at their reading level.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of PEG.

About Simthandile Mhlambiso

Simthandile Mhlambiso is the founder and managing director of Mpilo Publishing (Pty) Ltd, a company founded in 2018 that assists authors to self-publish books. She took it upon herself to do the necessary research on self-publishing, enrolled into editing and entrepreneurship courses, registered and started running the company out of passion for books.

About PEG

The Professional Editors’ Guild (PEG) is a non-profit company (NPC) in South Africa. Since moving to online activities in March 2020, PEG has been able to offer members across South Africa, and internationally, access to an extensive online webinar programme. Continuing professional development remains a key offering and the first PEG Accreditation Test was administered in August 2020 to benchmark excellence in the field of editing.