So you’ve finished your draft… is it now off to the editor? NO!!! You have a little way to go before you even consider sending your manuscript to your editor. Here are 5 tips to keep in mind:

1. Revision

The first draft of your manuscript will need revising and this is something you can do yourself. How? First you take a break from writing. Taking a break will help you renew and recharge your creativity and give you a fresh pair of eyes to revisit your manuscript. Next, try re-reading your manuscript in a different format than it was drafted in. Doing this allows you to see errors you would not have noticed before. Some writers prefer to print their manuscript, others choose to revise a paperback proof copy and there are those who change the font. The choice is up to you… just be sure it’s not the same format as it was originally penned. During this phase of your revision, all you are doing is reading your manuscript… it’s fine to make a few simple notes, but it’s important that you use your fresh pair of eyes on the alternative formatted copy of your manuscript to see your book as a reader would.

Now that you’ve re-read your draft, approach your revision by dealing with the big picture issues first. Always remember: copy edit last! It’s best to begin with strengthening the structure of your story. Start editing from a broader angle… are there plot-holes, do character descriptions remain in harmony throughout? What about dialogue, setting and other elements that may need revising? Address those edits first and then you can work on grammar. If you copy-edit before you make those structural changes then you’ll have grammar edits to do… again! Now you can begin your rewrites!

2. Beta readers

So you’ve revised your manuscript a few times over. Now it’s off to beta-readers! Who are beta-readers? Why do you need them? Beta readers will read your manuscript and provide feedback. They can be your family, friends, members of the writing community, bookstagrammars… anyone willing to read and give constructive comments on the style and structure of your story and point out any inconsistencies. You will also get insight as to how readers will respond to your book.

3. Self-Editing

Back to revising again. Armed with the comments and suggestions from your beta readers, return to your manuscript and begin another round of rewrites. But remember, the story is yours so implementing the comments of your beta readers is entirely up to you. Ponder on the honest and comprehensive criticism you receive and together with your knowledge of your story’s outline and setting, you can edit and rewrite.

4. A Polished Manuscript

At this point you may be thinking of hiring an editor. Of course you expect your editor to find errors, but that doesn’t mean you will send a manuscript that is not properly formatted or self-edited to the best of your ability. A polished manuscript is always best! So review your manuscript at the sentence-level, looking out for errors in grammar, spelling and the style and flow of your sentences.

5. Editing Types and Costs

You’ve polished your manuscript. Before approaching an editor, educate yourself on the different types of editing services there are and how much each costs. As an indie writer, it’s important to understand how the editing process works and how it fits in with your budget so you are aware of what you’re working with. There are three main editing stages:

Developmental Editing

This type of editing takes place in the early stages of the editing process. Also known as structural editing, it addresses the ‘big-picture’ issues of your manuscript and therefore, will highlight plot-holes, character flaws, major inconsistencies as well as whether or not your manuscript meets industry standards and requirements and relates to the genre you are writing in.

Copy-editing

Copy-editing is the next stage after you have dealt with those ‘big-picture’ issues. It involves a closer sentence-level editing that will address grammar, spelling & punctuation, double-check any factual information in the story and highlight inconsistencies that may affect the style and flow of your story.

Proofreading

This is the final stage of editing that will polish your manuscript, spotting even the most subtle errors in grammar and content as well as typography, making your manuscript ready for publication.

And Remember: Be willing to make adjustments

You’ve counted the cost and are ready to hire an editor. Hiring a professional editor would mean you will be receiving professional, high-quality service. As such, trust your editor and take into consideration all suggestions made and be ready and willing to adjust your manuscript. You would have worked with beta readers earlier in your writing process so you learned how to take constructive criticism… do the same now with your editor.

Don’t forget, most important… have fun on your writing journey!