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Friday, March 8, 2013

Editing Manuscripts

Two words! My advice to writers sending manuscripts can be summed up in just two one-syllable words: Edit First.

Editors read for content but the truth is that we grit our teeth at underdeveloped story lines, characters that seem like paper dolls, and grammar that would make an English teacher faint. We don't expect your manuscript to be perfect but we do expect it to be polished.

When you submit a manuscript, the publisher reads it for both marketability and the cost of production. Editing is a a time-consuming job, and as a small publisher, I have to translate the time into dollars - more time, more dollars. I've never yet read a manuscript that excites me enough to overlook that financial consideration.

So back to basics; edit first. When you've completed your manuscript, find a professional editor. Don't even think about depending on yourself. After you've given so much time to developing the story, you reach a point where you see what should be there rather than what is.

Don't rely on your spouse or your best friend. They can't objectively separate the work from you.

Hire a professional with experience who can look at the work objectively. Editors become experts in plot and character development. They can help improve and revise your work, bringing a sharper focus to your story. Although no two editors see a manuscript exactly the same way, they develop an understanding of what entices a reader.

If you intend to self-publish, hire a proofreader when all the editing and layout work is completed. Proofread it yourself first because you will find the errors that sometimes occur during layout. However, that final set of eyes should be a proofreader who has no prior knowledge of the book.

Once you've finished this process, be proud of your work. You've accomplished a lot.

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