For almost every writer penning your first book is a dream come true. A dream that you work for months towards. A dream that is ultimately the result of your blood, sweat, tears and plenty of hard work. But one that can be worth every second of the stress and tiredness. Some want to write glorious tales of fiction, some smooth reads and some an attention grabbing work that covers fact and information.
Whatever your genre, once you finish that manuscript you start to look for avenues to get your work out there, be it a traditional publishing house or a self publish book company or a publisher that will sell your work in digital format. Before you even entertain the idea of sending out your work to different agents and publishers do not forget that crucial step that will make a big impact – editing! Editing can make or break the entire flow of a book and can greatly change how it reads. It is a step that no writer can afford to miss out on, when wanting to put out a quality book in a highly competitive market.
A few editing pointers for you -
Firstly write as you think – Editing is an aspect that you should be concerned about later once you have actually finished writing your work in its entirety. Pen it down as it flows to you without paying heed to the other aspects like spellings, grammar, punctuation and sentence structure. Let the first draft be an instinctive work that is coming naturally to you and is therefore true to what you want to put down. Start editing only once you have finished the book or say a chapter if that makes you more comfortable so that you can write without worrying if it is all ‘proper’.
Take a small breather – No one can deny that writing and finishing a book is exhausting work and when you try to edit it soon as you’re done you don’t really pick up on the discrepancies. You also have a tendency to read what you think you have written as opposed to what you actually put down. It can actually be quite helpful to take a break even if just for a day and start the editing process by reading your book when fresh, alert and more subjective.
Begin to make ruthless cuts – It is natural to be emotionally attached to your work but editing is a ruthless process. Apart from a clean up where grammar, structure and flow is concerned, you will have to be prepared to make many cuts like unwanted words, sentences, paragraphs and possibly entire chapters. Sometimes you may want to change the way your book flows entirely. Work on what changes you need to make in an as objective way as possible, since ultimately your target readers will have to enjoy it not you.
Get a second opinion, or a third – This is a step that you can do before or after the first cut. Even if you aren’t hiring a professional editor (which can be super helpful) or working with a self publish book company, find someone who you can trust to read your work and give you detailed feedback. Or more than one too if you think that is better. Make sure it is someone who will give you constructive criticism and not just superficial feedback.
Hear it – One of the best ways to pick up on mistakes or things you may want to change is to actually hear what you have written. Read the book aloud in order to help you better assess the flow and weed out the things that seem off or forced.
Editing your own work is never easy. Remember, tough as it may seem to eradicate something you have put considerable time into it is a step worth the pride of putting out a great piece of work readers will enjoy.
Marjorie Cook is a published author and a regular contributor to online literary forums. She has already put out two romance novels via a self publish book company and is working on her third.