You finally finished writing your book. There’s a glimmer of hope that the end is near.
It’s time to pass your rough draft on to an editor to clean it up, right?
Not so fast.
Have you revised it yourself yet?
The Hard Part of Writing a Book
What a lot of bestselling authors and writing coaches will tell you is the hard part of writing a book is not writing the book.
The hard part is rewriting your book.
If you want to avoid embarrassing mistakes and a choppy flow that screams amateur, hiring a professional editor is a must. But professional editing can be expensive. And some editors don’t even accept rough drafts.
By self-editing and rewriting, you can seriously keep your editing costs down.
An editor may quote you less because it will take less work to polish your draft. Or, your editor can use her energy to focus on making your book powerful, intriguing, and an amazing read because she’s not focused on all the big glaring errors you already caught.
5 Questions to Ask Before You Send It to an Editor
So, how do you know if it’s time to hire an editor or not?
Here are 5 compelling questions you should ask yourself to revise your book before sending it to an editor:
1. How long ago did I write this?
Let the clock tick at least 24 hours before revising your writing. For shorter writing, like blogs and articles, 24–48 hours is enough for most people. For ebooks and novels, allowing 1–2 weeks before revising is helpful.
This allows your eyes and brain to see what’s actually written, rather than filling in the missing gaps or repetitive words.
2. How does it sound?
Read it aloud to yourself or use a program (such as Adobe Reader) that will read it to you. Don’t just skim in your head, but actually read it aloud, slowly, to yourself.
This will help you recognize if you accidently typed “the the,” shared the same story twice, or typed “diversity” instead of “adversity.”
3. What’s the big idea?
Make your main point crystal clear in your mind. As you reread your book, make sure each part contributes to the big idea.
You may eliminate big chunks of text in this step, which is okay, because it will make your writing better for your audience.
This is why you should edit for the overall structure of your piece before sending it to an editor for a line edit, copyedit, or proofread. What’s the point of polishing up paragraphs of text that you’ll later realize doesn’t fit the big idea in your story?
That is wasted time and money for you.
4. What does my audience need to know?
Cut the fluff.
As you reread your writing, ask yourself: What is extra information the reader doesn’t need to know? Where do I ramble on and on, and where do I repeat myself?
Keep in mind the short attention span of most readers these days.
Creating a clear picture in your mind of who your audience member is will help you better determine what your readers need to know, and what’s just fluff. Hopefully, you created an image of a reader while writing your piece, but if not, do it now!
5. How does each line read?
Read each line to correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling to the best of your knowledge.
Yes, we are finally to “editing.”
Take note of your comfort words—those words you tend to use every few sentences. It may be “just,” “actually,” or “very.” Eliminate or replace a bunch of them as long as it doesn’t alter your intended meaning.
Self-Editing Before Professional Editing
After trudging through these five questions and steps of revising, you should have a significantly better draft of your book. This is good news for you, potentially your wallet, and definitely for your audience.
After you’ve asked yourself these questions and worked through your piece to rewrite at least once, then it could be time to bring in a professional editor.
You’ll be amazed how much more an editor will find to consider deleting, restructuring, or altering. Don’t take it personally.
And because of your rewriting, the book you have after the professional editing phase will be a masterpiece.
You’ll hardly recognize it at the end—and that’s a good thing.
Let’s face it, most of us are capable of writing far better than our first draft.
When you invest time revising before hiring a professional editor, you are ultimately investing in your reputation and your authority, and enhancing the product and information you share with the world.
Now’s time to practice.
Which step of self-editing do you find most difficult? Let me know in the comments.
Today, find an old piece you wrote, but never self-edited. Ask yourself the five questions we discussed to revise it. Read it aloud. Ensure every piece connects to the big idea. Take out the fluff. Improve the grammar and remove some of your comfort words.
Go ahead and comment on other people’s writing too. You greatly help our writer’s community when you put yourself out there and give encouragement to those who are practicing to better their writing—and rewriting.