Editing Tips and Advice | Book Editing

Editing Your Book: A Crucial Piece

Finding a typo or grammatical error in a book is never good. It will probably make you question the credibility of the editor of the book, the publisher and ultimately the author. Now, turn the tables. Put yourself in the role of the author where someone was turned off from your book because of an editing error. How would that make you feel? What if the person actually stopped reading because of errors? That is certainly a situation you want to avoid.

How can you prevent this from happening to you? The answer is simple: Don’t skip the crucial step of utilizing excellent editorial services. Even the most experienced authors do not catch all of their mistakes. You are so familiar with your manuscript that your eyes simply glance over the glaring mistakes, the “their” instead of “there”. Since editing is such a crucial piece of your final book, here are some tips you can use when you are editing your book.

1. Write without editing. As you write your first draft, don’t think about having correct grammatical structures, spelling and punctuation. Just write the words as naturally as they flow out of you. Then later, after you’ve exhausted the flow for a chapter or maybe the entire book, go back and start the process of editing.

2. Cut, cut, cut. There is truly no other way to say it. Cut out unnecessary lines, words, paragraphs, pages, and even characters – anything that doesn’t help communicate a clear message to your readers. Use concise language that is active and not passive. If you’re writing a novel, write smart dialogue that sounds like a real conversation, not long, never-ending prose. Your readers will appreciate your use of the "cut" function.

3. Walk away from your book. When you do finish your manuscript, take a day or two (or 10) of rest and walk away from it. This break will give your brain a chance to revive itself, giving you the opportunity to look at your book with fresh eyes. Devote extensive time to editing when you do come back to your book, and be ruthless with the things that do not work. And make sure to appreciate the things you did well, too!

4. Read it out loud. Print out your entire book and take the time to read it out loud to yourself. Reading out loud will help you find awkward sentences that don’t flow, dialogue that sounds stilted or parts that just don’t fit. Make notes on the paper as you go so you can go back and make changes later.

5. Hire an editor. The best gift you can give your book is to have an experienced editor review it for you. You may consider using an editorial service from Balboa Press or hiring a professional editor you find on your own. Avoid using someone who won’t be honest with you as an editor, such as your best friend who is afraid of hurting your feelings. Editing is a messy, difficult process so it’s important you have someone who will point out both the good and the bad in your manuscript.

Editing is never easy. It’s hard to “kill your darlings” and be forthright with yourself about what is and what isn’t working. Swallow your pride and step into the editing process with an open mind. In the long run, editing will enhance your book and will allow you to give your readers a book of which you are proud.

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