You have worked your fingers to the bone. You’ve poured your heart and soul into your manuscript. Finally able to type the words “The End.” Whew! Now pour yourself a glass of wine, sweet tea, or whatever your drink of choice may be and pat yourself on the back. You deserve it. Authors know just how much goes into writing a book, telling a good story, creating characters and emotions, everything. It’s amazing and we appreciate all you do.
However, your job is not yet done. I know, I know, what more could we possibly want from you, you’ve given all you have? Well, there is still a process to go through to polish the story and get it in shape for publishing.
As most know, there are many phases to polishing your book and making it beautiful to put into print. Now, this process doesn’t have to be painful and doesn’t have to take months and months if everyone works together. Though it may sometime seem as if editors have it out for authors or intentionally look for problems to delay the release, it just isn’t the case. Editors want your work published and selling well just as much as you do.
So I thought I would mention just a few things that would help expedite the process and make it a little less painful.
*Take a few days away from your book. Celebrate, take a breather, walk away for a bit, then return and do a final read through. I know it’s hard for an author to do a good proof of their own work, this is why we have editors, but there are still items an author can catch and that is one less item for an editor to waste time on and send back to the author.
*Make sure you haven’t gone overboard with dialog tags. If only two characters are in the room, talking to one another, there shouldn’t be “he said” or “she said” after each line of speech. A well-written scene will already make it clear who is talking.
*Use the Find/Replace function in Word to locate filler words and delete as many as possible. Filler words are unnecessary words like had, just, that, up, down…
Wrong: She looked up to the sky and said a small prayer
Correct: She looked to the sky and said a small prayer
Wrong: He kneeled down beside the grave
Correct: He kneeled beside the grave
I know it sounds so simple and maybe even a little petty, but this is a true time saver for everyone. The author knows what they want to come across to their audience and how, what their true intentions are – the editor does not, we do our best, but only the author truly knows. Therefore, when an author does a final read through, they are able to catch the little things or address issues they didn’t realize they wrote. Maybe they were distracted that day or had to quit part way through a scene, sometimes when you pick up where you left off you have lost some of your direction or the mindset has changed just enough not to allow the scene to flow properly.
Editors still need to do their job, no doubt. I’m only saying that I have worked with authors who proof their work prior to me receiving and you can tell. I am able to focus more on the story, making sure everything flows, that the emotion, conflict, and resolution is all there. Basically focusing on the meat of the story. When I receive manuscripts that have been quickly typed and immediately submitted, I am unable to focus so much on the story itself because I am distracted with typos, punctuation problems, incorrect use of words (their vs. there). It takes away from making the story the best it can be so it can sell, sell, sell.
When editors have manuscripts that have not been proofed by the author, it takes twice as long to go through the editing process. No one likes to go through the same story 3 or 4 times. One or two rounds of true edits should be sufficient.
~ T. Hayes