Your book is complete... but is it?
Now that you have finished your first draft, you’ll want to go back and edit what you’ve written, and at first this can seem like an overwhelming and very daunting task. This is where procrastination can set it, ‘I’ll do it next week…….’ many will say, and the book sits in a file on your laptop, its launch date creeping further and further away.
But it shouldn’t be this way, fine tuning your manuscript is vital if you want to succeed, many authors will use the services of a professional editor (we even know authors who use multiple editors in order to polish their book prior to launch), the main thing is that your manuscript should be edited once you have stopped writing.
As mentioned, many authors will use an editor, and some will do it themselves, it is of course recommended that you get a fresh set of eyes to look at your book in a constructive manner (this is where an editor would really help), but you can edit yourself, you need to be objective and to some degree separate yourself from the obvious personal connection to the book, but if you really want to do it yourself, here are some tips to try and make it a little easier.
Break it down in to smaller pieces
If you intend to sit down and edit the book in one continuous go you may well struggle, break the process down into reviewing/editing one chapter at a time, you will need to pay attention to the overall outline of the narrative, plot & structure, but focusing in on one section of the book makes it a great deal easier to see where changes should be made.
Check your editing
Once you have made any edits make sure you go back and review them properly, in most cases this is worth leaving until the following day, you should give it some time and then re-read what you have just edited, you’ll find that with the element of time your edits will either stand up or you’ll see where you should tweak further.
Scrutinize your content
The process of editing isn’t just about checking for spelling and grammar errors, editing your book is about checking the overall story and ensuring that it makes sense too, so you should ask some questions of the book while working on the edit.
The first and obvious one is… does it make sense or do the plot and subplots go off at crazy tangents that add nothing to the overall narrative of the book?
Are your characters believable? Will your readers be able to connect with them on a real level? Great books have characters who have depth to them, the readers can connect and relate, will they do the same with yours?
Check the structure of your sentences for length, if they are too long (or too short) it can make the reading of your book disjointed or cumbersome, it’s always good to review a couple of best sellers within your genre to obtain an idea of how the big publishing houses prepare their books prior to working on yours.
Look for overused words and phrases within your manuscript, it can be easy (especially when writing a book over a long period of time) to use the same phrase over and over again, this should become obvious when you’re editing and something you should look to adjust within the edit itself.
Get someone else to read your book
Having another person read your book in an objective and unbiased manner is incredibly helpful for the editing process, even if you ask them to read the edited chapters as you complete them (so you don’t swamp your reviewer). The other person’s perspective on your work will help to find elements you may have missed that need adjusting.
Book cover designers.