10 Tips How to Edit and Proofread Your Own Book
Those of you who ever dreamt to publish their own shall find this article very helpful. If you have ever written any fiction or non-fiction story you know that writing a first rough draft is not a problem. You just pour out all your ideas in one stream. The difficulties began when you want to shape the written material into something readable and comprehensive. Before you can send your manuscript to a publisher, editor or just beta-reader you need to go through some editing and proofreading stages. Every writer needs to master some techniques to edit and proofread his own writing. But for deeper and thorough editing you need to use professional editing and proofreading services, such as Get Essay Editor provides. You can place an order for your manuscript to be edited, proofread or even rewritten for a very friendly price.
You wrote a book and what is next? You know you cannot just send your first draft to any publisher and you feel embarrassed even to let you best friend to read it. The story might be too loose, there are holes in your plot, the word usage is not always the best and some parts don’t fit in at all. All those and more are the issues you have to face on your own. Editing is not just fixing a few grammar mistakes and adding commas here and there. It is a massive complicated process that involves as much writing as during the initial drafting if not even more.
Writers can be divided into two groups: those who feel easy writing a first draft, but are terrified of editing that must follow, and those who drag through the first draft, but then flourish during the revision and editing stages. If you are one of those who cringe when hearing the word “editing”, you need to learn some of these editing and proofreading tips. As life teaches us, we are afraid of the unknown. And it is zero knowledge about editing that makes you afraid of the editing and forces you into miserable loop of procrastination. Learn these tips and you to feel more comfortable editing your book because you will have all the tools for it.
This collection of techniques is gathered from various sources and many of these tips are used by famous writers of our time:
- Pre-editing. This technique was always used by Ernest Hemingway in his writing and a lot of modern writers still benefit from it. You can apply this technique while still working on your first draft. The meaning of pre-editing lies in simultaneous editing and writing. When you sit down at your computer or a notebook to write something new, you have to start first by revising what you wrote the previous time. You reread the text, fix some problems and then go on with writing. It might seem a bit time-consuming, but it is worth the time, because as a result you will get tight manuscript that needs very little revision and editing;
- Structural rewrite. Do it on your computer. Fight back the urge to fix little mistakes like grammar, punctuation or rewrite sentences and play with words. On this stage you have to revise only the main structural elements of your book: plot, story line, timing and characters. Pay attention only to the big things and ignore the small ones. But don’t forget to let your draft rest for a few weeks or a months to gain a fresh perspective on the material;
- Big outline. After you revised your story one time, you can create the general outline. It has to be about a page long, maximum three pages if your novel is very long. You can keep it in front of your eyes during later editing stages; it will help you to stay focused and not to lose the story line. It will be like a road map of your book, which you can consult with when you feel lost;
- Scene outline. It is similar to the step above but this time you will have to outline each scene of your story. First of all, you will be able to distinguish all the scenes and decide whether you want to reorganize them or cut out some. You can make the scene outline on the computer or using sticky notes, whatever is more convenient for you. The most important is that you could grasp all the scenes in one glance. It will guide you through your novel or stories step by step and keep you on track;
- Check-lists. After you have done first structural revision and outlined your plot and scenes, you can proceed to the next stage of editing process trying to make your manuscript more concise and comprehensive. Check-lists can be of great help to you in this case. Just focus on one problem at a time according to the list. Put the check in mark when one thing is done and go to the next one. This way you will stay concentrated and organized and will not feel overwhelmed with the amount of work. You can make your own check list or download a ready one from the Internet. There are many generous writers and editors who share their check-lists online and you can learn a lot from their experience;
- Print it out. This recommendation became very valuable at the times of computer technologies, since we almost stopped working on actual paper. Typing on the computer gives us many advantages, such as speed and ability to write and fix mistakes simultaneously, but there are few disadvantages as well. Our brain perceives the information differently when it is on paper instead of the screen. So when you print out your manuscript you will see it with different eyes and will most likely notice the issues you didn’t see on the screen version. Moreover when you print it out, your creation will finally feel more tangible and real, and you will feel closer to fulfilling your dream, which is a great motivator to keep working;
- Rule of 10%. In his memoir On Writing, Stephen King says that he learned that rule from one of the editors and his writing career went up after he started applying it. This rule is very simple and it roots from the fact that people tend to be too wordy in their writing: “2nd Draft = 1st draft – 10%”. An average manuscript requires at least three rounds of editing and at each round try to shorten your draft for 10% of its original length. If it was 3 000 words, make it 2 700 words. If you are not sure what you should cut, read this article about tightening up your manuscript and learn the list of things you cut out to make your writing more concise;
- Read out loud. This is another old classical tip similar to printing out your draft. It also roots from psychological peculiarity of human to perceive information differently when using different senses. Read to your friend, dog or just to yourself. The story will ring differently when you hear it and you will be able to spot some new issues to fix. Since language has its own music, reading out loud will also enable you to hear the flow of the language and understand your strong and weak points;
- Linear edit. After taking your draft through all of the previous steps it is finally the time to linear editing and proofreading. At this point you can deal with all the minor issues you put aside before: rewrite sentences, play with words, and fix grammar, punctuation, proofread for misspellings and typos. You can find some writing and grammar advice on our blog that could assist you in word by word editing;
- Beta-readers. At last when you think your manuscript is good enough and you have read it so many times that you stopped perceiving it as a reader, it is time to try it one beta-readers. If you have some friend or relative you trust give it to them, otherwise you can find beta-readers online. It might be better to give it to people who don’t know you personally and whose comments would not hurt you so much. They also will be more objective towards your writing than your friends and will feel comfortable with pointing out at the weaknesses of your book. After you get feedback from your first readers, most likely you will have to do more editing based on their evaluation.
Edit your book online
Even after you have taken your book through the long journey of self-editing, it will still need a professional to look at it, because your book is like your child, you are so close to it that you can’t see its flaws. Nowadays writers are lucky because they can receive professional editing and proofreading services not leaving the comfort of their homes, just ordering the service online.