my friend Celeste Jones wrote a blog entry about the perils of Spell Check. So I thought I’d share my method of editing.
One thing I’ve noticed about the Indie publishing world is the stick some of its authors get for bad editing in their books. I can see how this can happen, but let’s not forget that the Big Six also put out books with mistakes! Only last night, while reading a novel from a big-name author—one of my favs—I came across a few mistakes in her book. Things like though when she meant thought and closest when she meant closet. There was another one, but it slips my mind at present. The point is, nobody is perfect, and whilst we would all like to put out pristine books, that often isn’t the case.
However, we can do a few things to ensure we put out the very best final draft we can. As Indie authors, we have to work harder because unfortunately, we have something to prove. After all, some people think only writers who can’t get book contracts go ahead and settle for the Indie route. When, in actuality, the smart authors take this option.
The very fact that tons of traditionally published authors—of which I’m one—now publish their own work is solid proof that this is the way of the future. Much like when we moved from vinyl to CDs, from VHS to DVDs & from print books to eBooks. The world is going digital and we’d be stupid not to grab a slice of the pie while we can.
I suspect that publishers will soon wise up and include some kind of clause in their author contracts, preventing signed authors from Indie publishing any of their work—whether under a different name or not—while under contract with that publishing house. I’m thinking they will come up with some way to tie contracted authors hands, and hem them in with longer contract years. Or traditional publishing will be outdated in no time.
Let’s get back to editing.
First, I’m going to suggest you hook up with at least a couple of good, eagle-eyed critique partners (CPs). I can’t stress how important this is for any writer who is thinking of taking the Indie publishing route. Even big-named authors have several CPs!
Then I’m going to presume you already know the fundamentals of writing and editing. Things like looking for repeated words and repetition, coincidences, too many speech tags, info dumps, point of view (POV) slips, tense slips, too much telling—some telling is necessary and adds to the story, but too much distances the reader.
Okay, you’ve edited for structure, style, grammar and spelling, pacing, goal, motivation & conflict (GMC),character/story arc and all the rest. You’ve read and re-read the MS until you know every word. You’ve even printed it off, and read it from hard copy, because you realised that your mind has played a little trick on you and made you think you saw exactly what you expected to see on those pages. Every line of your pristine MS says precisely what you intended it to say, right?
You now consider your book to be ready.
But wait, there’s one thing you forgot.
You forgot to read it aloud.
Oh, you did that too? Sorry, I meant to say, you forgot to have it read aloud to you!
I learned this trick long ago. You can read your MS aloud and still miss problems. I’ve found that when you get your computer/laptop to read your story aloud, you are far more likely to catch problems with the story. Anything from misused words, to sentences that go nowhere, to story and sentence structure.
When we listen, we engage the left
hemisphere of our brains, which is the same part we use when editing. The right hemisphere is our creative side and the left is our logical, analytical side. With our analytical minds engaged, we are able to take a step back from our work and judge it with a critical eye. Enabling better editing.
The excellent bit is, if you own one of the Kindle series that has the text-to-speech function, all you need to do is email your Word doc to your Kindle email addy, and it’ll be sent directly to your Kindle.
Easy peasy lemon squeezy!
Now all you have to do is make yourself a hot drink, and listen with a critical ear. You now get to hear how your book sounds to the reader.
I would love to hear your final editing step. The one you take just before you hit the upload button! Please share with us by leaving a comment below.