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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To Edit or Not to Edit

I belong to an email group for indie writers. Recently the group had a discussion about professional editing and whether or not it is important to hire an editor to review your story. With the changes taking place in how we write (no more cursive, text abbreviations), will it matter if our stories aren’t perfect?

Books have been professionally content and copy edited for many years. The goal is to have a polished book that is clean of errors. But how many times have you read a book and found one or two errors? If you do find one, you’re caught off guard for a second, and then you get right back into the story. And for those readers who finish reading a book in a day, do they really “read” the book or skim through it? Would they even find the errors?

Many of the members in the indie group thought that errors are acceptable based on today’s standards. In a new generation of abbreviations and less focus on proper English, the grammatical errors aren’t as noticeable. Of course, other members responded, as I expected, that if you want to be a serious published author then you must professional edit your work. What surprised me is that the majority, even a bestselling author, leaned toward the side that standards are changing.

So what is right? I think it’ll be interesting how books will be edited in the future. Look at how writing has changed from the old form of English to our current version. Wherefore art thou Romeo? Say what? If proper English is turning less than proper, what will become the acceptable norm? The English language continually changes, including how we write it.

When I finished writing “Gitana – Life Plan,” I had a few friends read through the manuscript for errors before I even sent it to a professional editor. I loved getting feedback and their suggested changes, because I wanted a polished book. For my blog, I don’t have anyone proofread my work. I probably should, having found a misspelled word in last week’s blog, but I’m not a stickler because I consider my blog normal, personal writing. I will do my best to catch errors. I know my grammar isn’t perfect. I will misspell words and not catch them. I hope my readers are forgiving.

So is it safe to say that there are different levels of published writing? Will we become more relaxed in how we publish books? Less formality? I’m curious to how the next few years play out.