Lessons Learned: Editing Your Manuscript Before Publishing

The last few months I’ve spent hands down on the computer getting my next book “The Calling’s Return” completed. Writing the story is the easy part. Edits are the tedious part, but the most important task to do when publishing a book.

Once the story is written, I go through two edits before I send the manuscript to my editor. When she gets the manuscript, she will review/edit three times.

At the high level, the manuscript is read to determine if the story flows, if the scene makes sense, or if there’s anything missing. Is the right POV being used? Is there enough dialogue mixed in with description? Are the characters true to life?

And then there’s the detail level. This is where sentence structure is reviewed, if the right word is used, and if the sentence makes sense. This includes making sure no space is used after the period at the end of the paragraph and that each chapter title and spacing is consistent throughout the book.

Don’t think that you can skip this part. You can’t. Someone else has to review/edit your manuscript. And once the editor is done with her/his review, you need to review it again. I’ve read published books from traditional publishers with unacceptable errors (double words, cut sentences). Minor errors do occur, it’s hard to catch everything, but they should be few and far in between.

Edits are an important part of publishing a book, especially for self-published authors. And for me, I’m almost done with “The Calling’s Return” edits. My editor is on the final review, and then I’ll review one more time.

Beth M James

Novels based on strong characters and elements of romance.

http://www.bethmjames.com

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Manuscript Editing

I’m in the home stretch of completing my edits for my novel “The Calling” before I send it to the editor. Editing is time consuming and tedious, but rewarding as well. I love how the story transforms into polished work. The main errors that I look for in each chapter are adverbs, sentences over 30, and repeat words. There’s other edits as well that I will look for (consistency, typos, etc.), but the three noted above are the ones that I don’t “see” when I read my own work. I am too close to the story to notice the errors. I use a software program to point them out to me.

For those edits, the majority of adverbs used in a story are unnecessary. I mainly look for “ly” words. I’ll remove 90% of them. If the “ly” word is used in dialogue, I won’t remove it. In both books I liked to use the word “just.” Funny how a simple word can be used way too many times.

Sentences with over 30 words are easy fixes. I will break the one long sentence into two or three sentences. The hardest errors for me to find are the repeat words. Even when repeats are right in front, screaming at me, I still can’t see them, until they are highlighted in bold. In two paragraphs I had “dangerous” written four times. Four times! To correct, I determine if there’s another word I can use to replace the repeat, or if I have to restructure or delete the sentence. At times, I will keep the repeat if needed. Fixing repeat words takes the majority of the time. I’m not a pro, but I am getting better.

With that said, I need to edit another chapter….