We’ve scoured our old blog posts and complied together the top tips when it comes to editing your own writing, and the work of others. Book Printing UK are here to help as we discuss a general overview of editing and what to never forget to ensure your work is ready for publishers.
Editing one's work is important, and more so than in the self-publishing game, since the writer is often the only editor that is going to look at the work before it is presented to the public at large. That's a pretty scary thought when you think about it, and makes it all the more important to do the job properly in order to ensure that the writing is of the highest quality possible before others get to see it and judge you on it. Fortunately, there are some relatively easy-to-follow tips to revise your work.
”It is perfectly okay to write garbage - as long as you edit brilliantly” – C. J. Cherryh
One basic rule of editing that will probably always apply is - when editing, you lose text, you don't gain it. This means that you don't start adding material in. The purpose of the editing process is to lose content that's overwritten, too wordy or doesn't make logical sense, not to start rewriting from scratch (unless you suddenly realise that the whole thing is rubbish, anyway).
‘How do I edit my book?’, you ask? Well, there's no room for sentiment in editing - you must ensure that the harshest critic of your work is you.
If Only You Could Hear Yourself...
Reading your work aloud can be a good idea. Just re-reading the text isn't enough - sometimes you can be too close to it to see something that isn't particularly well written, or doesn't really make sense, but when you read it out loud it can be much easier to spot passages that simply don't work or read very well at all.
This will help you hear if the sentences make sense, and will also force you to read slower so you’ll be more likely to pick up mistakes.
Make a note as you read through of any references to time of day, week, month year and time passing. Also keep a note of any ages that are referred to. This way you’ll notice if a chapter starts on a Monday morning, but by the end of it your characters are having dinner on a Friday night with no mention of the week in-between. It will also allow you to spot if a character has mysteriously aged beyond the number of years the plot spans. Or if they’ve not aged at all.
Press F7 to Spell Check
It should probably go without saying, but we will say it anyway - always use a spell and grammar checker on Word or whichever word processing software you are writing with. It is a bad idea to be solely dependent on these automated spell checkers, and you still need to cast your own appraising eye over the work after they have finished their task - but on the other hand, if you have a tool, it is foolish not to use it. Using an external program will help nip those errors in the bud.
One ‘out-there’ tip that writers have told us they find useful when it comes to editing is to use a screen to cover the text that they are not checking, thus preventing distractions.
To check for spelling mistakes, split the pages into columns. Then read down the columns, checking each word. This way you are more likely to spot spelling mistakes as you will be seeing the individual words, not the whole sentence.
There are never enough ways to check your work in order to ensure it is in its best form when presented to the public.
Proof-Reading and Editing: It’s Not Just You
So, how do you proofread your book? Firstly, have someone else look over your work. Ideally get someone to read it who has not read any of it before. It needs to be someone with a good grasp of language, grammar and punctuation. As the author you know what the text should say, so you are likely to read it as correct, even if it isn’t.
A new reader is also more likely to pick up on continuity errors. They will notice plot holes, or things that haven’t been explained to the reader. Again, as the author you have the plot in your head, so you may not notice that you’ve left out a vital piece of information for the reader.
This does not necessarily mean that you have to go out and hire yourself a professional editor or proof-reader, a friend or relative would suffice.
If you’re proofing the book yourself, put it away for at least a month. Do not read it at all. Then when you come back to it you can read it with fresh eyes.
Writing Comes Before Editing
Editing is, of course, the final stage of the game and without the writing itself, editing doesn't mean very much at all. A writer should not be worrying about the editing process until long after the main bulk of the work is complete. The writing is often far more from the heart than from the analytical, critical mind, and too much emphasis on the editing early on in the writing process can detract from what should be an almost instinctual process. After it's over, you can go back, edit, and clean it all up to the best possible standard but the writing should be straight from the heart.
Or, Why Not Leave it to the Experts?
Let us handle the editing and proof-reading for you? At Book Printing UK our publishing partners Spiderwize have a team of editors are highly qualified and have been editing books for many years. Not only can they help you further with the instructions on ‘how to edit your book’, but with our premium and exclusive packages editing is already included; however you can add on editing and proof-reading to any off the packages we offer for an additional cost. For more information regarding these services, you can take a look at our editing and proof-reading options page or contact us to discuss further!
If all else fails of course, just remember these famous words: