As I edit my book…again…to get it ready for paperback, I sigh with an oh-so familiar feeling of deja vu. I look around my room and see the four paper copies I have already of the book, edited and read through. In my computer there are another three versions that have been edited and read through. It should be perfect now, right? Apparently not.
Editing is one of the most daunting tasks to a writer but one that is so very important. I chuckle to myself as a thumb through the first draft, nearly 800 pages of words, plot, and dialogue. The book has come a long ways since that draft and has been cut well in half since then. However, I still find myself slightly disappointed that I still need to do this much editing.
For me, it is more difficult to edit a version that is on the computer. I need a physical copy with pen in hand so I can write over, scratch out, line through, etc. I guess I didn’t do that enough. You see, I thought I had a finished product two edits ago. I even published it to Kindle because I believed it was ready. A new writer’s mistake, because it wasn’t. It wasn’t until I read it, as a reader would, to make me realize that it wasn’t ready.
Like most struggling new authors, I couldn’t afford a professional editor, so I soldiered on and enlisted the help of friends and family to help edit. They did help, but they weren’t perfect either. I still plod along, editing once again with the hope that this time it will be the last and the finished product “add heavenly angel music here” will finally be what I want it to be.
With that all being said, my advice to new writers, edit, edit, edit and when you think it’s perfect…edit again. If you can afford it, employ the help of a freelance editor. Get the book printed in a book format so you can see it as a reader will see it and edit it again. It’s amazing what you will find by doing that. There is definitely something to be said for seeing it in that format and ask yourself some questions as you go.
1. Are there any trip wires? Things that will make your readers lose focus or flow; ie. typos, tense shifts, grammatical errors.
2. Are there inconsistencies? Have you explained something one way and then in another part of the book explained it differently? Have you inadvertently changed a character?
3. Would you read this? Well, would you? As it is, would you as a reader read this book as it is right now?
It has been my experience through this journey to publishing my first book unless you can answer, nope, nope, yup to the questions above, it isn’t ready…so guess what, “Hit me baby, one more time” (don’t really like Brittany Spears, but it worked here) and edit some more.