Remember the quote, A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client? I feel the same way about editing. You’re a writer, but unless you have studied and studied editing, you are not an editor. And, even if you are an editor, it’s almost impossible to edit your own writing. Why? Because you know the story and you’ll eventually get so used to the words, that you won’t see the mistakes. Your eyes might see them, but they won’t register because your mind will correct them for you.
Some people think this is not true, but it is. I know. I tried to cut corners on a book that I wrote once. I edited it myself and there are a few typos I missed. Now if I hadn’t known that information inside and out, I would have caught them. So, hire an editor… Work that amount of money into your budget and know that it’s money well spent.
There are a few things you can do to make the job easier on the editor you do hire and to therefore reduce the cost of editing. Do a complete self edit of the book first. Make a list of things to look for as you go through your manuscript.
–List the major components of the novel and what you want to watch for. For example, the components for any novel would be things, such as
- point of view (is it consistent)
- character development (does any particular character need more work)
- beginning, middle, end
- theme, etc.
–List any points you need to revise in these major components.
–Make a list of potential plot or story problems to look for while you’re editing. You know the weak points of your book, put these points on your list and check to see that you have executed them well. Mark areas needing revision.
–Go over your manuscript carefully for spelling, punctuation and grammar.
When you finally do give your manuscript to an editor, be specific about what you want from the edit. For example, tell the editor about the potential problem areas that concern you. See if the editor agrees that you have fixed those or if they still need work. Also, tell the editor about any of your writing weaknesses and have him/her watch for those.
The most important thing to remember in order to ensure you get the most out of an edit, is to get out of your own way. Look at the results of an edit carefully and without becoming defensive. You’ll gain so much more from it if you do.