As a Writer, Are You Ready to Edit?
Have you read and re-read your manuscript and edited it yourself? Perhaps you have had a manuscript appraisal? Have you taken on board everyone's criticism to get your work in the best possible shape you can before you seek help? Even if you have, it might still be worth taking the extra initiative to have it professionally edited.
An Editor Can Assess Your Manuscript or Edit Your Work—or Both.
For many authors, a sensible next step will be to have an editor assess and edit the manuscript before they start hawking it around to publishers. However, are you ready to edit? Have you thought about what your publishing outcomes and hopes are, and about your potential market? Have you considered self-publication and started a website to self-promote? Have you signed up to Tweeter, Facebook and as many writing sites and forums as you can? All of these things are worth thinking about as you take your first steps towards publishing success.
Before You Hire an Editor...
Before sending your work to an editor, re-read your entire manuscript. Remember, editors will figure out the cost of editing your book based on either a page rate (so the longer the novel the more it will cost) or how many hours of work it will take them, so you can keep editing costs down by doing some simple checks yourself. Never rely on a spell checker! You will
A spell checker is not a fail-safe way to make your manuscript error free. You should still run a spell check on your document and correct any misspelled or repeated words, but don't expect it to pick up everything. And, when it comes to grammar checkers, don't pay a great deal of attention to MS Word's grammar corrections: they are often wrong and lack an understanding of literary writing or context. Any words for which you're unsure of the correct spelling or hyphenation should be checked against the Macquarie Dictionary (Australian editors' preferred dictionary), Merriam Websters (in the US) or the Oxford Dictionary (in the UK) or another style guide of your publisher's choice. If you are an Australian author who is serious about writing, sign up online at www.macquariedictionary.com.au
For Good Writing, Assess Your Characters Carefully
Think critically about your characters. Are they personable, three-dimensional and not too "perfect"? What are their foibles and peccadilloes? What are their strengths, weaknesses and desires? What are their motives and how does your story "grow" the characters? Your main "cast" must be convincingly driven by underlying motives and conflicts to drive your plot forward.
Examine Your Plot and Your Writing
Assess your plot. Does it go off on any major tangents? Is there a subplot? If so, is it necessary? Are there any major flaws of logic? At the end of your story, are all of the loose ends tied up? Does it maintain interest and pace?
Polish Your First and Last Chapters
Make sure you're happy with your first and last chapters—the two most important chapters in your manuscript! Both of them should positively sing and leave the reader wanting more of YOUR writing. Right now!
Submit to an Editor
Send the first three chapters (or the first 50 pages, whichever is longer) to Karin Cox at firstname.lastname@example.org for a no-obligation quote and brief sample edit of part of your first chapter. If you have a synopsis or table of contents, send that too. If you don't have access to email, you can post the manuscript (printed out in 12-point Times New Roman font and 1.5 line spacing) to Karin. Simply email her for her postal address and please include a stamped, self-addressed envelope for its return. To ask Karin a question, click here or see the Frequently Asked Questions about Editing page.