Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Editing your Manuscript: DIY Tips and Professional Resources

Photo by Ilya Pavlov on Unsplash
So you've written a book, and you're asking yourself, "Do I really need an editor? I'm pretty good at writing, after all. I caught a few mistakes as I went through, and I don't think there are any more. Maybe I should just save money and publish the book as is."

Yikes! 

Sorry to burst your bubble, but, to put it bluntly, you're wrong. We ALL need editors! That is, certainly you can and should go through your own manuscript and search for errors. But as authors, we're just too close to our own stories to catch everything. Trust me! It doesn't matter if you've earned an "A" on every English assignment through elementary, middle school, high school, and college. It doesn't matter if you're a professional writer or an English professor. NOBODY gets it all right all of the time, and that's why professional proofreaders and editors are absolutely essential for authors.

First, some definitions. There's more than one type of editing, after all.

I recommend taking a look at the article at this link. Pavarti K. Tyler explains what each kind involves and why your manuscript needs them.

At the end of this post, I've compiled a list of professionals you can contact for your editing and proofreading needs. In the meantime, let's go over some tips for improving your own writing as much as you can. The more problems you find and fix, the less your editor will have to do, which will probably make the editing process cheaper, quicker, and simpler. 

The following posts and articles are ones that I've collected from all over the internet and can highly recommend for their useful content. I recommend checking them out, bookmarking them, and referring back often throughout your writing and editing process.

Corina Koch MacLeod and Carla Douglas have compiled a list of helpful books that would make great additions to your library. Best of all, they've organized them in categories according to the level of writing they are intended to help with: big picture, paragraph level, sentence level, word level, and some designed to provide inspiration for writers.

Duncan Koerber has a lot of useful ideas here, including some on how to even approach the whole process.

These are big-picture tips relating to story structure, conflict, character motivation, etc.

Do you have too many details in your descriptions? Not enough? Jill Williamson will help you see what to do about either problem.

David Stafford has a unique idea for how to keep track of seasons, location layout, character traits, etc. You don't want to be inconsistent in your story!

How to Strengthen the Theme of Your Book During Edits
Does your book have a theme? Should it? Did you mean to give it one but not start thinking about it until halfway through your first draft? Stephanie Morrill will help you fix that in the editing stage.

Self-Editing Tips
Susan Uhlig has some helpful suggestions, many of which deal with the big picture of your story as opposed to tiny details.

How to Write Well: 10 Essential Self-Editing Tips
C.S. Lakin has some great tips for punctuation, grammar, and a few other issues. Each one is quick to read and easy to understand, but you'll want to go back through your manuscript slowly and carefully to check that you're applying them as well as you can.

We all have words and phrases we tend to use too often without realizing it. Sporkforge will tell you what they are, along with a number of other nifty functions.

In this article, Jon Gingerich lists some common errors, especially between pairs of words that are commonly mixed up (like "continually" vs "continuously"). Better yet, he explains why the right one is the right one for each certain context. It would be a good idea to read through the list, and if anything there surprises you, search for that word in your manuscript and make sure you've used it correctly.

Another great list of types of mistakes to look for in your writing. You may even want to print this one out and keep it by your computer for reference.

So, what happens after you've done everything you can to edit your own manuscript? Time to turn to the professionals.

How do you know which editor will work best for you? ChatEBooks has some great suggestions. After you read them, scroll down and browse the list of editors, and check out some of their websites to see what services they offer and who might be right for you.

Once you've found a few editors who look like a good fit for your book, A. Denefield Jones has some good suggestions about things to ask them before you sign a contract.

And now for the list! Without further ado, here are way more editors than anyone would ever need. :-) Just click on their names to visit their websites.


Do you know any other editors you'd like to recommend? Can you think of some great self-editing tips not mentioned here? Feel free to tell us in the comments!

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