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Editing - The Devil And The Drink - Editing Tips For Self-published Authors
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Editing is the devil for many self-publishers in the writing process. It is the one thing that we all dread. However, if you can submit a well-edited manuscript you are going to save yourself a lot of money and time. If you are using a paid editor who is charging by the hour you'll want them to be as quick as possible. If you can remove any minor or silly mistakes it will mean that they will be able to focus on important errors in grammar. Also, if you are self-editing you don't want to find mistakes in your finished work and have to republish it. This is not only costly but can undermine your confidence drastically.
Leave your manuscript for as long as possible. Days, weeks and perhaps a month might have gone past before you read it again: The longer the time, the better. As writers, we visit our work and we will read with new and fresh eyes. Our mind won't be cluttered with the writing process. Instead, it may have forgotten some of the story and you will be able to see mistakes over again.
Read your story out loud. Be loud and proud. When I'm reading my manuscript I tend to shout it a little bit. I found that it is a very interesting way to hear your story for the first time. I also enjoy going into character and doing the voices and making them come alive. This is very useful because you will hear a mistake that your eyes have skipped over. When we read out loud we have to slow down a bit and our mind can't predict what is coming next so quickly.
When we read from the beginning of the story our mind tends to predict what we are going to read next. This is a big problem for any writer. However, reading your story backwards will stop this process. It might sound a bit strange but it is a very interesting way of finding any mistakes. The best way is to start at the end of the document and read it backwards one sentence at a time. If you're reading off the computer screen scroll right up to the top so that the next sentence up is only available. If you're reading from a print version then cover up the top of the page with a sheet of paper. I use coloured paper so that the print can't be seen through it. That way I don't get distracted at all and I am focused on what I am reading.
I'm a self-published author and I take pride in my work. I can't say that my books are completely error free but they sure are close. I go out of my way to dot all my i's and cross all my t's. One way I do this is to get my friends to read my manuscript. I have five editors altogether and one person is blind. It is interesting to read her comments because her computer reads to her and she will often find mistakes that the rest of us miss. I print out copies and give them to family members, too. I ask them to make notes using the same pen. That way, when I read it I can use a different coloured pen and clearly distinguish between the different editors.
Clearly, you'll need to use people who have an interest in literature and who are educated but let's face it if your market is ordinary people shouldn't they be the sort of people you should be using to edit your manuscript.
If you're writing for young adults it would be an interesting to get a group of teenagers to read your manuscript. If you're writing a romance, why not get a group of mothers together and see what they think? I've used my Facebook fans to edit my work on occasions.
You could do a group reading with your target audience too. I have done this on many occasions it is a very rewarding process. I provide snacks and drinks and we sit around the table reading a page each at a time. I sit with my laptop open making corrections as we go. I will often re-read the corrections and make sure that everyone agrees that what we've changed is sounds better and makes sense. The old adage is true: the more minds working on a project the better.
Once you've finished the editing process have a drink. You could relax with your favourite ale, a wine or just yummy mug of coco. Reward yourself and be confident that your manuscript is as good as it will ever be!
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