Monday, August 15, 2016

Write Now! Series: Final Editing

 Write Now!

How to Write a Book in Your Spare Time, Even if You're Busy!

VII: Final Editing:

After the revisions have been made and you have checked your manuscript for foreshadowing, flashbacks, and the proper balance of dialogue and action, then you will move on to the final editing process. This is not to be confused with the preliminary editing we have discussed prior to this section. This section is dedicated solely to the final edits of your book. The final edit of your book is probably the most important step in publishing your book.

Proofread It Yourself:
You always want to put your best foot forward when first meeting someone in person. It’s no different with your writing. A book that is not edited properly will earn you lots of negative reviews, regardless of the content. You, not the editor, are the final gatekeeper of your manuscript. Therefore, before you send you book off to the publisher or editor, proofread it one more time.

Look for grammatical errors, smooth transitions, spelling errors, plot bunnies—I will discuss this in a bit—and the smooth flow of your book.

Once when I was reading an Amazon bestseller, I was reading the book and the heroine and the hero were in a room full of people. The very next paragraph they were doing unspeakable things to one another and the people in the room had suddenly disappeared. These are plot bunnies. Give your book a smooth flow and smooth transitions. Do not leave it to the imagination of the reader to know “what you meant to say”. This just will not work in novel writing. Once your book is published, you are a professional. So, make sure that your manuscript looks like it was written by one.

Also, check to make sure that your book isn’t rushed in places and isn’t lagging in other places. Your book must have a steady pace. As was stated before, I usually vacillate between an action scene and a downtime scene. Don’t get me wrong, the downtime scenes are just as important. This is when the feelings or character of your characters—essentially who they are—are revealed. Also, use downtime scenes for the characters to interact with each other.

Oftentimes, writers think that the action must stay heightened throughout the book. I once read a book written by a gifted, but inexperienced, writer who wrote like this. The story line was wonderful, but was filled with action scene after action scene. I advised him to add in down time.

Books such as these are very exhausting for the reader. And if the reader becomes exhausted, they will stop reading. Reading a book should be an adventure and a pleasurable experience for the reader, not a relay race from one scene to the next.

Also, writers often think that the editor will catch any mistakes. They are human, too, so make sure you catch as many mistakes as you can before sending it off to a good editor. As I said before, you are the final gatekeeper of your work. In fact, go over your book several times before sending it off to the editor—and after. Also, as I said before, make sure to read your manuscript on your Kindle, too.

Again, finding your Kindle e-mail address is easy. On Amazon, go to Your Account. Next, go to Manage Your Content and Devices. Click on Settings, and then scroll down to Personal Document Settings. The e-mail address here is your Kindle e-mail address, and will end in Last, e-mail your manuscript to this address, and again, type convert in the subject line. It will then automatically convert it to EPUB format for you.

Don’t Be Afraid to Make the Cuts!
I stated this before, but it’s worth stating it again. Do not be afraid to make cuts in your manuscript. Remember: if a scene doesn’t move the story forward, then it goes—no matter how masterfully written the scene is.

This is the hardest thing for new writers to do. New writers want to save every word that they write. However, don’t be afraid to let it go when you need to.

When I wrote my first book Cambria, the beginning was lagging in the original manuscript so I decided to condense the first five chapters into one chapter and got to the action quicker. The result was a much tighter, cleaner manuscript.

Again, as an unknown author, you have one chapter to grab the reader’s attention. If you don’t do this, the reader will close your book. Before sending your book off to an editor or publisher, make sure that you have introduced the characters, setting, and conflict up front in the first chapter. If your manuscript doesn’t grab the reader right away, then throw out the access baggage that is bogging it down. Start your book off in the action.

Have Your Book Professionally Edited:
Oftentimes, writers think that they can edit their own books themselves. This is so far from the truth. No one, not even professional authors, should do the final edits of his or her own books, even if they are professional editors. The reason is that no matter how good an editor you are, no one ever catches their own mistakes. For some unknown reason, we tend to overlook our own mistakes. However, the same person may be able to catch every flaw or plot bunny in someone else’s manuscript, but the same editor will never catch all of the mistakes in their own work.

So, invest in a good editor. This doesn’t mean that you must spend a fortune to have your book professionally edited. I’ve paid hundreds of dollars to have manuscripts edited in the past and they weren’t nearly as well edited as another editor I found who charged less. When looking for an editor, go with someone that you can afford that is good and that you feel comfortable working with. In addition, don’t be afraid to ask for a sample edit if you have never worked with that editor before.

Also, if an editor is trying to teach you how to write and not catching the mistakes and grammatical errors in your book, then find another editor. I once had this happen to me. I quickly found another editor and she actually did her job by catching the mistakes, including grammatical errors and plot bunnies, in my work. An editor is completely different than a teacher. A teacher teaches you how to write; an editor finds your mistakes in your writing and makes you a better writer.

When you get your manuscript back, don’t be afraid to ask your editor why certain corrections were made. A good editor will gladly tell you the rule that he or she followed, or will explain his or her reasoning to you. As a result, you will become a better writer.

Now days, many editors make “in-line edits”. This means that their edits will be in red within the manuscript or will be in parentheses. Go over the edits and if you agree with the edits, keep them. If you don’t agree with an edit, then don’t keep it. But before discarding an edit, ask the editor to explain it to you. Most likely, you will keep the edit when you are working with a good editor. But if you still don’t agree with the edit, then take it out. Again, no editor is perfect and you are the final gatekeeper of your manuscript.

However, working with a publisher is different. The publisher will have their in-house editor go over your manuscript, then the publisher will go over the edits with you. Once they give you back your final manuscript to peruse, go over your manuscript with a fine-toothed comb and look for any corrections or edits that you can find.

It is important to note that finding corrections that need to be made is different than rewording. Do not just reword your manuscript. When authors do this continually, I write “Rewording” on the Revision Template and will not make the change. The time to rewrite your manuscript is during the Revision Stage, not during the Final Editing Stage.
Getting back to revisions, if the publisher agrees with the corrections that you wish to make, they will make the change. If they don’t, they will explain why. Keep in mind that when you work with a publisher, they have the final word. Never argue with a publisher; it’s bad form. Also, you don’t want to get a bad reputation with publishers. If you don’t work well with a publisher, they will not work with you again, no matter how good your book sells. After all, publishers know their craft and have been doing it for a long time and they have plenty of other manuscripts that they can publish instead of yours. So, don’t be hard to work with. If you have questions, a good editor or publisher will gladly explain why they did not make a certain correction or change. This brings me to the next section: publishing. 
 Join me tomorrow when we talk about publishing. Happy writing!

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