How To Edit A Book For Publishing – Self Editing Tips

the self-editing process for novels

This post is going to be in two parts and is all about how to edit a book for publishing. It’s easy to think that after finishing your first draft the hard work is done – I’m afraid not! The editing process takes up a large amount of time for a reason – without it, your manuscript has flaws you are not aware of!

The first video takes a look at how to self-edit your manuscript before sending it to your beta readers, which is in itself a vital step. The viewpoint of an outsider is how you find those plot holes and nonsense chapters that just don’t flow.

The second video is short and briefly explains the process a professional copy editor goes through when he or she receives a manuscript. Whether you self-edit you novel or pay for a pro, the process of editing cannot be avoided, and should be welcomed as the way in which you will get your book published.

How To Edit A Book For Publishing PDF

Video Transcript:

Self Editing You Own Novel Manuscript – 5 Tips

Hello everybody. My name is Natalia Lee and I’m the author of the young adult novels ‘Hi Board’ and ‘Wave Spears’. Today I’m going to be giving you my top five tips for editing your novel. Let’s get started.

So if you are editing your novel, that means that you have already finished your manuscript. Not everybody edits in this way, but I certainly do. I have to wait until I have completely finished a manuscript before I start editing. It’s one thing to perhaps read back over the work that you wrote the day before and just clean it up a little bit, but I don’t consider that editing.

How to edit a book for publishing

Writer's Workshop Link - How to edit a book for publishing tipsEditing, for me, means that I am making large-scale changes to my novel in order to fill in plot holes, make it read better, and correct character inconsistencies. I certainly will look back at the work that I did a day or two before, and if I find a misspelling, or maybe something that reads a bit awkwardly, I will definitely clean that up, but again that is not what I consider to be editing.

So if you are ready for editing, that probably means that you already have the first draft of your novel complete. And my five tips will help you start editing.

Tip number one is to just take time away and let it settle. Too often, I believe, people get so excited and anxious to get back to work that they finish their first draft and immediately jump into editing. I certainly recommend against this because I feel that by taking time away you’re giving yourself some much-needed distance from your project, so you can see it more clearly when you later return to edit it.

When we’ve been writing something for a very long time, we’re so deep into the world and into the characters in the plot that sometimes we can’t see its flaws, and we can’t recognize its problems for what they are. So by taking time away and by just letting it settle, you are allowing yourself to gain that distance from your creative work, so that when you come back, you return to your work with more of an analytical mind rather than a creative mind.

My second tip is to print it out because I feel that actually holding paper in your hands and reading it definitely feels more like you’re reading a book or more like you’re reading somebody else’s work, and that helps you edit it with a much clearer mind. If I’m just looking at my words on the screen, the same words that I’ve been looking at for months and months and months, I’m not going to catch the same errors and plot holes as I would if I was reading it on a piece of paper.

In addition to this, having printed out your manuscript it means that you can quickly jot down notes in the margins. You can highlight passages, circle words that might sound awkward, or maybe you’re not
sure if they’re spelled correctly, and take it with you wherever you go.

My third tip is to read it all the way through. You can certainly make notes and I recommend that you make notes, because in your first read-through you’ll certainly be catching things and awkward phrases will be standing out to you more and your. First read-through, then on, say, your fifth read-through so certainly be making those notes but I recommend against changing anything yet.

I have made this mistake in the past. I would make a note about something that I wanted to change, I would go ahead and edit it into my manuscript on the computer and then I would continue editing and then later on I would think ‘wait a minute what have I changed’.

You know how much of what’s printed out is actually in my manuscript still, and I would really just get myself into a big mess, so now I make all my edit notes on the paper that I’ve printed out before ever returning to the computer, because that will just get way too confusing for me. I’m trying to keep this massive editing process as simple as possible.

My fourth tip is to make multiple rounds of edits. In the first round of edits, I’m always looking for large problems, such as plot holes, character inconsistencies or entire chapters that don’t make sense or don’t move the plot forward.

So these are more story and structure based edits that need to be made in order for it to read smoothly and make sense by the time the reader gets to the end. Make sure that any questions that you bring up in the beginning of the novel always get answered by the last page.

With your second round of edits you can clean and polish what you have. This means cleaning up anything that sounds awkward or doesn’t read correctly, fixing spelling and grammatical errors etc. After you have finished this round of edits, it is time to send it off to your beta readers. Other readers are going to catch things in your novel you never will, because they don’t have all the answers.

I will often read through a novel and not even realize that I have left questions unanswered, because I already know the answers, but a reader that does not have all the answers will really have
fantastic feedback when it comes to filling in all those plot holes. So make sure that you have one to two beta readers at minimum that you really trust and know, will help you edit your book to make it as strong as it can possibly be.

After you get the feedback from these beta readers, you’re going to read through everything they give you and then make another one to two rounds of edits. I have had the experience of having one beta reader tell me that they really love something and having a second beta reader tell me that they really disliked the exact same thing. When this kind of conflict occurs between beta readers, I leave it up to myself to
make the final decision.

However, if two or more beta readers dislike something or are hitting on the same problem within the novel, then I definitely need to fix that, because multiple readers are going to consistently find that error, or that plot hole, or that character inconsistency, etc. Alright.

self -edit your own bookMy fifth and final tip when it comes to editing your novel is to not get discouraged and just take it one step at a time. Writing a novel takes a massive amount of work and editing a novel takes an equal amount of work. For some authors, editing is even harder than their writing process, so don’t feel discouraged. If you’re really struggling with editing your novel, I recommend that you break it up into manageable chunks.

Something that I have done in the past is set a goal for myself to edit perhaps one chapter a day or five chapters a week. Just remember to break your editing into very manageable pieces, whether that’s by chapter or by amount of time spent on it, or maybe you only have time to work on the weekends. Just
promise yourself, and set goals to maybe just work every Saturday and Sunday morning, while you’re having your coffee or in the evenings, instead of watching TV.

Just make sure that you’re setting realistic and manageable goals for yourself so that you
don’t get any more discouraged than you might already feel. Remember that the first draft is always the worst draft so if you get through your first draft and you’re reading it thinking ‘oh no this is horrible’ don’t worry. Many amazing novels that started off as horrendous – editing and proofreading, and having lots of beta readers is what cleaned it up, so just remember to be patient with yourself.

Be patient with your work and take your time. All right. Now that I have finished my five tips on editing I’m going to go ahead and answer a few questions that I received on Twitter today. Here we go. The first tweet I received is that any and all tips on our vision and editing would be appreciated. Well, here is an entire video for you on editing and revision.

how to edit your manuscript social media

The second question I received on Twitter is

‘Hello Natalia – I’ve got a question. Would you have advice for telling what happened before the start of the story without writing a big brick in the first chapters. I did that my last text but I feel like it’s forced. I would like it to be more fluid.’

This is a problem that a lot of authors face. They call it to the info-dump and you really want
to try to avoid that, especially at the beginning of a novel, because you don’t want to just dump all the information on the reader and bog them down. So my number one tip would be to make sure you have a solid outline, and then take all the information that you want to give the readers, all the information it’s really important for their understanding of the novel, and disperse it throughout the outline.

For example, if you are giving the readers information on page one that they might not need until page 100, then you can probably scoot that to the back. Of course, dropping that little hint and bit of information needs to happen before it becomes important for the reader to know, but it doesn’t have to occur all at once. The story needs to be able to exist without all that backstory bogging it down.

But if it is incredibly important to your readers understanding, just sprinkle it through there and spice it up, so that they’re learning everything about this world slowly. The next question is:

‘How do you fit description into a scene without breaking the flow of the story?’

how to edit your own novel - fairy takeThe first thing I think of when I read this question is novels that give you massive page long descriptions of settings that really just remove you completely from the novel. So what I like to do is experience the
setting as the character experiences the setting. For example, let’s say my character is walking up to a misty kind of foggy Lake.

I’m not going to just jump right in and say ‘the air feels like this, it smells like this, this is what she hears, this is what she sees’. I’m not going to dump it all on the reader right at once. Rather maybe the wind blows a little bit and she feels it, and makes a note of the rustling leaves and the trees.

And then she goes about the story and then a little bit later she sees the fog kind of rolling across the lake or she hears a splash as a toad jumps into the water. These are all little descriptions I use to spark up a setting and a scene for the reader without giving them everything right away. And the last question is:

‘When do you think your fairy novel will be ready for publication?’

Oh, my goodness if you had asked me this even a few months ago I would have said that my
goal was to have it out by the end of 2017, but now I am not too sure because I’m really trying a different method this time around with my outlining and plotting process, so outlining is taking a long time because I am making sure it is so in-depth that I have no plot holes and I have a really thorough understanding of the story.

fantasy novel editingHowever, I think that by spending this extra month on outlining, I will in turn really speed up my writing process, because it completely takes the guesswork out of it, which works really well for me.

So if I had to guess I would say that I will be completely done editing the outline here in a week or two and then I can get back to writing. I want to have Act one of my novel, I mean Act one of the novel is already written but now I have to make changes to it to incorporate all this new information I’m bringing in.

So I want to have Act one finished by the end of May and I’m actually going to talk more about that in my next video. And then I hope to have Act two and three finished by the end of July, so I plan to give myself the month of June for writing Act two and the month of July for writing Act three.

Then after that, more edits, so you know it’s really hard question to answer and the other thing is ‘am I going to pursue self-publication or am I going to pursue traditional publication?’ This time around I’m really leaning toward querying an agent when I am done with this book and trying to get it out there traditionally, because it’s something that I’ve never tried before, and I want to have a very well-rounded and full understanding of the book publishing process and the business of it.

I think I might try to do that, and if that is the case, I have no idea when this book could potentially come out. If I don’t pursue a traditional publication or if it doesn’t work out for me, or I’m not comfortable with it, and I decide to self publish, then the ‘Song of the Dryad’ will likely be out for you to buy and read and hopefully love by the beginning of 2018.

Thank you again for taking the time to send in those questions, and I hope I answered them fully enough for you. If you have any further questions feel free to contact me. You can contact me on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest or you can leave a comment down below this video.

I do have a very exciting project that is in the planning stages now. It is going to be a bit of a writer’s workshop that I’m going to be hosting but there are no details yet .I am really just planning it and making sure I get everything figured out and really nailed down before I tell you anything more about it.

But to help one another out, collaborate with like-minded individuals and have fun while doing it, so be on the lookout for more information about that workshop. Thank you guys so much for watching. I hope you enjoyed this video. Please give it a thumbs up if you did, or if any of my tips were helpful to you. If you aren’t already subscribed to my channel, thank you so much for tuning into this video.

I post right early videos at least twice a week so if you are looking forward to those go ahead and hit that subscribe button down below and help me out so that I can help you out alright everybody thank you again for watching this video and I’ll catch you in the next one bye [Music]

Writer's Workshop Link - how to self edit your book for publishing


The Professional Editors – The 4 Steps In The Book Editing Process

Video Transcript:

When we’re talking about editing a book manuscript, there’s actually a number of different stages involved. That is sort of the technical part of what we do. Paul can you give us a quick overview what’s involved, what you do?

Quick over-view. There’s four main segments really. There’s a structural edit, which is where we look at really does the book hang together as a total. Is there a good introduction chapter? Is there a good sign off chapter?

Do the chapters flow on from each other properly, and so on. The stylistic edit is really the line-by-line thing, where we go through and make sure that the language flows. That, you know, the grammar and the spelling and so on is all kosher.

And that the book per-se hangs together from a writing perspective. Even experienced writers can gain huge benefits from a line edit or a stylistic edit. They can really help you to identify gaps and opportunities in your copy that will help make your book so much more accessible to your reader.

People don’t really have time for these days, they don’t have the patience just sit down and read the whole book. So come to the point. Let me know what I need to know and make it easy for me to find that information. That’s the subhead thing.

I think if you can, if your editor, and it should be an editor that does it, you create a subhead that encapsulates the coming paragraphs then the reader can go through that and look at the subhead, and go ‘oh I know what this is all about’ and then they read further into the paragraphs, and they understand what you’re talking about.

Then you’ve got suddenly information that not only is core but is simple to understand and a memorable an easy reference point for your readers.

That’s right, yeah. The copy unit, you make sure that the tone and the manner and the voice is consistent throughout. The spelling is, you know, are you using American English or Australian English? Depending on your market. Have we got rid of the business jargon, that sort of thing and proofreading is the final part of the puzzle, if you like.

Is really that get rid of, you know, they’re in there their books are different too. They’re over there and those sorts of fundamental areas that do creep into every every single book really, that’s why a separate proofreader is so essential.

I think to writing a book needs this. It’s a fundamental strength, so they’re essentially four stages – a structure edit, a line or stylistic edit, copy edit and proofreading.