You’ve finally done it! After months of blood, sweat, and tears, you’ve finished the first draft of your book. Congratulations. Now that you’ve got a complete manuscript, you may be burning to get it off to press. However, before you do that, there’s a crucial step you must not overlook. The editing process is arguably as important as writing your book. It gives you the chance to pick up on any mistakes and create a fully-polished final piece.
If you’re new to the world of editing, don’t worry. The experts at Author Solutions, a leading self-publishing company, have all the advice you could ever need.
Check your spelling and grammar
We all make mistakes. When you’ve written an entire book, chances are, there will be a couple of small errors in there. First things first, you’re going to want to check the entire document for spelling or grammatical mistakes. The experts at Author Solutions recommend using the spell-checking feature on whatever writing software you have. At the click of a button, you will be able to spot any typos or spelling mistakes you’ve overlooked.
Of course, it doesn’t end there. You may want to use an additional grammar checker, such as Grammarly or the Hemingway app. These programs will help you identify any mistakes you may have made and even give you suggestions on how to improve your writing. Once you’ve done all of the above, you should proof-read the manuscript again. There’s no replacing an author’s eye when it comes to fine-tuning a literary piece of work.
Bring the action into the present tense
Readers want the action to take place here and now. While there’s always room for flashbacks and retrospectives, the majority of your fictional work should happen in the present tense. Now that you’ve checked your spelling and grammar, comb through your manuscript and look for past-tense verbs. How often do they crop-up?
The experts at Author Solutions recommend using the active voice whenever possible. When you’re writing the first draft of your book, you may overlook this simple rule. It happens to the best of us. However, you can always go back and rewrite parts of the action. Whenever the action is taking place in the past, ask yourself whether you can bring it into the present? Can you bring the reader right into the heart of the action?
Lean into your literary voice
While you may have read all the great works of history, trying to write like another author is a recipe for disaster. Every writer has their own voice and you need to lean into that wherever possible. As you begin editing your work, you may start to notice certain turns of phrase you tend to use or identify the language styles you favor. Don’t shy away from these idiosyncrasies. Hone them and start creating your own, unique tone of voice.
Needless to say, it may take some time to unearth your individual voice. That’s perfectly okay. While you’re editing your book, you will have the opportunity to find your voice and create a general tone that suits you. The experts at Author Solutions say that when you’re editing your work, you may find that you rediscover your voice and accentuate it.
Read your book out loud
As you’re writing your book, everything takes place in your own mind. If you’ve yet to read the words aloud, it’s time to start talking. The team at Author Solutions say that stories should have a natural flow to them and an almost-musical rhythm. Ensuring that your writing is smooth may be difficult when you’re silently writing the words. That’s why taking the plunge and reading the book to yourself is always a savvy move.
As you are reading the words and phrases, be mindful of any that sound clunky. Put simply, if you struggle to say a sentence without a second thought, that is a red flag. Any phrasing that causes you to pause or stumble likely needs to be reworked. While you may want to jump in and start editing right away, take a breath. Make a mark where the issue occurred and continue reading. Later, you can come back to the spot and edit it.
Get formatting your book
After you’ve checked the spelling, grammar, tone, and rhythm of your book, it’s time to get down to formatting. You may already have an idea of how you want your work to look on the page. So, let’s make that happen. Before you get started, you can do some research by looking at other published works. Note the styles that you tend to prefer. For example, you may find that you favor a certain type of line-spacing or font style. The more books you review, the more likely you are to find a formatting style that grabs you.
Start formatting your book. Use your writing software to design the aesthetic of your work. You can choose different font styles, change the margins, and edit the font size too. The experts at Author Solutions recommend paying close attention to the amount of white space (i.e. blank page) here. You don’t want your pages to look too heavy with text, but there should be enough going on to captivate the reader. When you’re all done, be sure to save the file as ‘Final Edit’ so you don’t lose any of your hard work.
About Author Solutions
Author Solutions is a leading self-publishing company with more than 22 years of collective experience and 300,000 published titles. Serving six continents around the world, the parent company helps writers realize their dreams of becoming authors while offering world-class care from start to finish.
Self-publishing provides opportunities for new authors to be discovered by both traditional publishing companies and representatives within the entertainment industry. With a wealth of industry relations and continuous support, Author Solutions has helped many writers jump from self-publishing to film optioning or traditional publishing.