In the first post from this series I shared the secret of why many would-be Authors fail. Then, when we last chatted, I think you were running, screaming for the hills in an attempt to get your head on straight.
You were smart to get away and decompress; the next step in the self-publishing process for fiction Authors is the self-edit of your manuscript (MS), and it's a lot of work.
Why do I have to edit my own work?
A fair and honest question. One that deserves a bit of attention before I get into what my overall editing process is on a first draft. I’m going to give you some rock solid advice in this post but I need to be very clear here – not every suggested method is going to work for every Author.
Everyone has a different style that’s going to work for them. Apply the basic ideas I share to the style that you’re working in and it will keep your editing time organized and efficient.
Speaking of, the time it takes you to edit your MS has a lot of variables – how well do you know your material? How much research do you need to complete? Where do you work best? How many hours are you comfortable or able to dedicate to your MS?
Until it’s out there that book is our baby and since no one else has read it yet it doesn’t matter if its epic, sucks or falls somewhere in between those 2 extremes.
The perceived potential criticism is what stops a lot of us from ever finishing a book. It stopped me for a long time. Once I decided my characters were strong enough to share I knew the only person who could bring the story to life was me.
I was ready to do my first round of self-editing!
My methods might sound unconventional but…
…they’re super effective for me. I’m old-school this way: A journal or notebook, a printed copy of my MS, a red pen (or 4) is how I roll.
Lots of people enjoy doing all their editing on the computer. It certainly is a faster method of writing and would help bring your MS to completion sooner. The best method is always to follow your instincts and do what you’re most comfortable with.
Writing by hand is known to help the brain retain the material in a more meaningful way. So to me it seemed smart to edit the first printed copy by hand with one of those aforementioned red pens.
The notebook helped me to keep track of other details like timelines (both the characters life timeline and the timeline of the story), names (did you remember to change that character’s name everywhere?), and other detail specific information. This was another place to get some by-hand writing done.
Addition and subtraction
Imagine you get to page 220 and suddenly realize your character would never do what you put her in the situation to do. You know the scene has to go. But to transition to the next scene you do need something to happen to your character at this part of the story. It’s time to slash & add!
On the printed copy I went through the entire thing, line-by-line and page by page. I made notes on the pages directly, sometimes even edited entire chapters by hand as re-writes. I printed in black and edited in red until the thing hemorrhaged.
I paid close attention to my characters and added or removed scenes as needed for their story to flow correctly.
Hats you’ll wear
Re-working your MS shouldn’t stop after the first read through, though. In truth, you’ll likely want to re-read, edit and proof your MS at least 4 times before sending it to a pro.
By going through the different stages of editing on your own before sending it out you’ll save a lot of time and money on professional services.
Authors should have a familiarity with the various types of editing because we have to use them all. Substantive, developmental, copy editing, proofreading. Each of your editing run-throughs should incorporate one of each of these styles.
Substantive will show you plot holes to be filled, developmental should help to reshape the story into a tighter and more tailored piece of work, copy editing will adjust the text to read coherently, and proofreading is your final spelling and grammar read-through.
What happened to me?
All of this work took me close to two years to complete. My time to dedicate to my manuscript was limited because I was working full time in a business I’d started. I’d paint by day and write or edit when I had a few days off. It was time consuming but I finally got it ready for the eyes of the publishing world.
The dedication it took to re-work my MS made me question if that was really the direction I wanted to go. Stick around and I’ll share what made me choose self-publishing over traditional publishing in the next post!
What part of the editing process do you look forward to doing the most? The least? Share in the comments!
Image courtesy adamr
• • •
I'm Jenn, a content writer & coach, Blogger, and owner of Copywrite That. I can write your blog posts, articles, emails, newsletters, web copy and more. Contact me today: info[at]copywritethat[dot]com