How To Make Book Editing Easier

By on October 10, 2017
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Many authors dread the editing stage of the book writing process. The elation of actually having finished your novel soon dissipates when you are faced with the mammoth task of editing your book. You realise how far from finished it is and how painfully depressing it is going to be to have to strip it right back, cut out massive passages, cringe over all the clunky, awkward, boring bits and have to rewrite a great deal of it.

Yes, book editing can be somewhat daunting. However, it is an essential part of crafting your work. As we all know, unless you are a one-in-a-million exception to the rule, your first draft isn’t going to be very good, and certainly won’t be ready to send off to agents or publishers, or even to publish yourself.

So what can you do to help yourself when it comes to book editing? These tips will help get you into a positive frame of mind and make the whole process a lot easier.

Take a break

Don’t launch yourself straight into editing mode as soon as you have written your final sentence. Just leave your manuscript for a couple of weeks, take a break or work on something else. Gaining a little distance and perspective can be invaluable.

Have the right attitude

Even if you hate editing, try and approach it with a positive frame of mind. Try to trick yourself into enjoying it, and get motivated. Imagine you are donning your boxing gloves and stepping into the ring, play some inspiring music, meditate - do whatever works for you to get into the right headspace for editing, and then just go for it.

Read it aloud (or have your computer do it)

Reading your story aloud can be so helpful and will help you not only pick up mistakes but also notice where sentences just don’t sound right and need more work. Both Mac’s and PC’s have options to read text aloud, so if you don’t want to do it yourself, have your computer do it for you.

Know your weak points and crutch words

If you overuse a particular word, are lazy with certain descriptions, spell the same word wrong all the time - do a search for them and then change them to something else. You’ll often be shocked at how regularly you drop in your favourite crutch words without realising, and weeding these out can make a big difference to the text.

Use a spelling and grammar editor to help you

Even if you have a pretty good handle on your spelling and grammar, a good online editor can be so helpful. You might have to pay, but seeing how many errors it pulls up can get your manuscript in much better shape. Obviously, hiring a professional editor to look at your manuscript before you send it to publishers is a good idea, but if you choose not to, this is the bare minimum you should do.

Format according to industry standards

Every agent and publishing house will have precise submission guidelines that you should follow. However, formatting your manuscript to industry standards beforehand will make it a lot easier to tweak it here and there to meet them, and therefore save you time and effort later on.

Know when enough is enough

You are never going to make your manuscript perfect and flawless, and the sooner you accept that, the better. Recognise when you have done enough and be confident in your work. No publisher is going to bin a brilliant manuscript because of a couple of errors or clunky sentences. So don’t keep editing forever, chances are there is a point where you will probably start making it worse.

We know that using the above tips won’t necessarily make editing your book a walk in the park, but they will help keep you on the right track and hopefully make the whole process a little easier. Remember, when you are done editing your book will be in so much better shape and then it’s time to start getting excited about what to do with it next!

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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