I've found that no matter whose book I'm working on, there are certain words that are either overused, misused, or misspelled across the board. I like to look for those right away during my "preliminaries" phase. If I take care of these before I read anything in the story line, it makes the entire edit go smoother.
I search for my favorites first. And by "favorites," I mean those words that cause me to run, screaming, when I see them. Words like "alright" instead of "all right" are downright wrong. Misuse of "to" and "too" will drive me to the brink of insanity. Other words are, I believe, autocorrected or misspelled when typing quickly, like "filed" rather than "field," or "personnel" instead of "personal."
"Farther" v. "further" is a little trickier, as is "compliment" v. "complement." Trickier, but doable.
Still, it pays to take care of these things in one swoop. This is what I simply adore about the age of digital editing: FIND & REPLACE. I don't know of many inventions I appreciate more than that one. Wrong word? Fix them all right away. Character name is misspelled, or inconsistently spelled? Go to that Find & Replace, see how many times the name is spelled each way, and fix it up.
Still other changes are author-specific. Each author has his or her quirks that I know to look for. I know to expect them and I look for them early in the process.
At the end of all that joyful finding and replacing, I get busy making a style sheet. For those not familiar with a style sheet, let me assure you, you want one. You need one. You probably keep one without realizing what it's called. A style sheet lists character names, complete with eye/hair color, physical traits, military rank, and more. It also lists places, company names, ship names, planets, and anything that's important enough to be mentioned more than once. Some authors keep their style sheets as a notebook for each character or each book. Some have post-it notes decorating their desks. Whatever works for each person is the "right" way to do it.
The nice thing about a style sheet is that I can tell at a glance when a character's hair color has changed, or his job is not the same job he had at the beginning of the book. If I know I'm editing a manuscript that's going to be part of a series, the style sheet becomes even more important, because I won't have to do 75% of that legwork again for the subsequent books.
These are my best time-savers when editing. Authors, do you have any surefire tricks that help you to edit quickly? Editors, is there one "go-to" method that always ensures speediness for you? I'd love to hear them.
Until next time!