Richard Lane Church, Author

Use Your Writing Talent to Make Money

Copywriting * Content Writing * Fiction

Book editing is a necessary prerequisite before self-publishing. Even if you are going to try the traditional publishing route with an agent and publisher, it is still a great idea to make it as polished as possible before sending it in.

Book editing example page with editor's marks.

Book Editing by Yourself

There are many ways to edit your work. Here are some that work for me.

  • I use Grammarly as I write and review its suggestions when I get to a stooping place (like the end of a scene or page). Take each suggestion with “a grain of salt.” Make sure it does not change the meaning of your sentence or lose its nuance. Also, your character’s speech may be ungrammatical as part of their personality. You can dismiss any suggestion if it does not apply. Sometimes it may point out that a sentence is awkward or wordy; though I may not follow the suggestion, it is good to see the red flag and make my own changes before inflicting my prose on a reader.
  • In the final stages, I read my prose aloud. Awkward sentences really stick out when spoken out.
  • Another software I use is Scrivener. It allows you access to each of your chapters (as well as characters, locations, details, etc.) on a sidebar, so you can easily verify an action or detail (green eyes or blue eyes) easily if you forget.

Using Beta Readers

A beta reader is a person who will read your manuscript in early drafts and give you an honest opinion. Not only if they liked it, but what they thought missing, irrelevant, or other problems readers may object to. A comment like “I hated the character X, may be an encouragement if X is your villain. However, I got comments regarding my MC (main character) that she was too nice. A Mary Jane or Goody Two Shoes. Two of my beta readers could not relate to her at all until I made her more human. Two thought the last chapter was too abrupt, so I had to write more foreshadowing into current chapters, plus add a couple of new ones.

Do not expect your beta readers to do your book editing for you. Their purpose is to find flaws in the general story flow and characters. Like using Grammarly, be appreciative of their comments but know you make all of the decisions whether to use them or not. Or how.

I am fortunate to have four beta readers for my last novel. My wife read each chapter as I finished a smooth draft. I also had a retired English professor, a high school English literature teacher, and a friend who was writing his own novel. I rewarded my beta readers by acknowledging their help on the front pages of my novel.

Professional Editing

I found a wonderful editor using fiverr.com

There are actually four to six different types of editing depending on who you talk to.

  • Developmental Editing is often used for novels and looks at themes within the story, plots and subplots, character development, and pacing to strengthen the story.
  • The job of Content Editing is to make the manuscript as factual as possible. In a non-fiction work, content editing includes checking the data or facts are error-free. In fiction, like fantasy or science fiction, author-created “facts” must remain consistent within the work.
  • Line Editing checks line by line to make the content read smoothly. It may replace words to have a greater impact and streamline the language for maximum readability.
  • Copyediting focuses on mechanics such as spelling, grammar, and punctuation. It also verifies that the style is consistent.
  • Proofreading is often the last edit to correct mistakes, not only grammar, typos, etc. but inconsistencies in timelines, characters, scenes, etc. The goal of proofreading is to finish the writing and editing process with a professional product.

There is much that overlaps when editing and some editors may include more than one part of the overall picture. As mentioned elsewhere, I found my editor on fiverr.com. As the publisher, find someone who you can work and communicate with. That said, it is your book. Read and understand the edits. I even did a final line edit before publishing as a Kindle eBook.

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