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  • Writer's pictureCandace Nola

05/07/2024 Editing Tips for New Authors

Editing is a crucial part of creative writing. All aspects of editing only help strengthen your writing, from proofreading to copy edits, story edits and revisions. It all matters. As the author, you need to be open to suggestions from your beta readers and your editor, all while keeping in mind that you are the first editor.

The editing process should be a partnership between you and the author. It is your story. You are the creator. The editor is there to help make the final result as professional as possible. That being said, there are several things an author should do prior to sending a completed story to the editor to help the process go as smoothly as possible.

Make sure to structure your story using complete paragraphs and chapters. It is up to you to determine the flow of your story, not the editor. Do not send two hundred pages of solid text with no paragraphs, chapters, or scene breaks, and expect the editor to do it for you. This is a massive waste of their time and not part of the editing process.

Any manuscript sent to an editor should be as close to finalized as possible, including title page, table of contents, dedication, completed chapters with titles or numbered, author's notes and any other back matter that you wish to include.  

Make sure to allow time to read over your story at least twice before you send it to an editor. Read it aloud to catch any missing words, awkward phrasing, and weak dialogue. Ask yourself if you would word something in that same manner? If would you talk like that? Does it sound natural or forced? Does it sound like a normal conversation or not?

Try to identify overused words. Every author has at least one. Horror authors tend to favor words such as “dark-large-old-out-that-darkness-gaping-gory-blood-skeletal-viscera-fear-terror.” Look for your overused words and try to cut them down by half, if possible, especially if used multiple times on the same page or within the same scene.

Make sure to run the editor tool to catch the basic errors like missed or misspelled words and punctuation mistakes. This should be your first step when preparing your final draft to go to an editor. Running this tool allows for a general clean-up of your story and saves your editor a lot of time. While the editor tool does not catch everything and should never be your sole method of ‘editing,’ it can catch a lot of basic issues.

When selecting an editor, make sure to find out their rates and their normal turnaround time. Does it fit your budget and release schedule? Find out how their process works and what type of editing they do. There are several kinds of editing and not every editor will do every aspect of editing. Are you looking for a basic proofreader or do you need story edits?

Understanding what you need and what your editor offers, as well as their expectations and timelines, will go a long way in ensuring that you select the correct person for the job. Make sure to ask how they expect the manuscript to be presented, much like finding out the submission guidelines of a press or publishers. Submitting your manuscript properly will save you both time and energy.

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