No self-published author should publish their work without paying a professional to edit it first. Even if you’re hoping to traditionally publish your book, the agent or publisher will be looking for a polished sample that engages them with the story, not the several typos on page one alone.
But what if you don’t have the money to pay for an editor? Or what if you want to keep your costs down by doing as much editing on your own as you can? The better you can make your novel on your own, the better your editor can help you make it together. Think of it like football: Get the ball as far down the field as you can, then pass the ball to your editor. Together you can go for goal.
If you want people to actually read what you’ve written, you must master the art of ferociously self-editing your own manuscript.
These days, anyone can get anything printed. It doesn’t even have to be good. If you have the money, you can find someone who will print whatever you submit as is.
So you must separate yourself from the competition by ensuring your manuscript is the absolute best it can be.
Yes, a traditional publisher will have its own editors and proofreaders. But to even get that far, your manuscript has to be better than a thousand other submissions they receive per day. Can it do that?
And if you’re self-publishing, the only way to stand out against even more competition is by ferociously editing your own book until it’s as crisp and clean as possible – it has to be as professional as anything that big publisher who turned you down can churn out.
There’s little worse than a self-published book that looks like one.
So, You Must Learn How to Edit a Book
Whether you’re going to hire an editor, or hope to be assigned one by a traditional publisher, your responsibility is to get your book manuscript to the highest level it can be before you pass it on.
Never settle for, “That’s the best I can do; now fix it for me.”
Why should they?
Because sadly, if you attempt the traditional publishing route, you could pour your whole life into a manuscript and get no more than five minutes of an editor’s time before your book is rejected.
Sounds unfair, doesn’t it?
But as one who has been on both sides of the desk for more than two decades, let me tell you there are reasons for it:
Why Publishers Reject Your Manuscript After Reading Just Two Pages
Editors can tell within a page or two how much editing would be required to make a manuscript publishable; if it would take a lot of work in every sentence, the labor cost alone would disqualify it.
An editor can tell immediately whether a writer understands what it means to grab a reader by the throat and not let go.
Have too many characters been introduced too quickly?
Does the writer understand and utilize point of view?
Is the setting and tone interesting?
Do we have a sense of where the story is headed, or is there too much throat clearing? (This is a literary term for a chapter or story that starts with pages of description or scene setting but no actual action.)
Is the story subtle and evocative, or is it on-the-nose?
Yes, a professional editor can determine all this with a quick read of the first two to three pages. They want your story to stand out, and no amount of beautifully descriptive prose is going to hide the fact that you don’t have a sufficient plot.
If you find yourself saying, “But they didn’t even get to the good stuff,” then you need to put the good stuff earlier in your manuscript.
So today, I want to zero in on tight writing and self-editing. It will help you as a writer, and lower the costs when hiring a professional editor – after all, the less they have to do, the less they will charge.
If you’re ready to learn how to edit your own book before hiring a professional, take a look at my FREE self-editing guide that will take you through each aspect of your story, from plot, to characters, to sentence structure to point of view. The more boxes you can check for your manuscript, the leaner, meaner, and more ready it will be for submission to an editor, publisher or reader.
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