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Nothing in this world is perfect until you strive for progress. Your first draft is always black and white. Editing fills the color in the story.

You want readers to invest their precious time immersing in the world that you have created. You are liable to deliver an entertaining and engaging story along with flawless content. After you finish writing your book, your next step is editing. Editing your book is essential to prepare it for publishing. Your first draft will always have gaps to fill. Even a bestseller goes through a number of revisions as a draft. Bridging those gaps could transform it into an impeccable published book.

Edit your book in three ways

Professional editing can turn a good story into a great book. You will find three simple ways to do it.

  1. Edit it yourself (self-editing): If you are planning to publish your book all by yourself, then you would be able to cut and chop the manuscript depending on what works the best for you. You need flawless grammar to carry out this process on your own. Make sure you go through your complete manuscript two times at least. In the first round, work on the story elements such as narrative arc, structure, conflict, resolution, and character development. You can focus on typos, spellings, and punctuation in the second round.
  2. Sign up for a publishing house: You can also take the help of a publishing agency to get it done, and a team of in-house editors will get the job done for you. An experienced book editor can edit your work depending on their specialty. It depends on the demand of the author and the manuscript what kind of editing your book will need. Copy editing fixes the mechanics of your content. This includes structure, consistency, vocabulary, tone and voice. On the other hand, developmental editing is important for the development of your overall structure of the story for a seamless story. Go through our article regarding different types of editing to understand the process further.
  3. Hire a beta reader: If you are confused between hiring an editor and doing it all by yourself, then submit your script to a beta reader to get thorough feedback on your book. A beta reader act as an adviser or critic for your manuscript. He or she would provide a review on overall structure, plot, inconsistencies, character development, and narrative arc. Depending on those pointers, you can decide whether you can manage to edit the script by yourself or hire an expert editor.

Self-editing basics

Your first backup plan shouldn’t be a professional editor until you first edit your manuscript on your own. How can you do it? The secret of editing is simple. Become the reader of your manuscript instead of the writer. This will help you to incorporate better self-editing techniques and enjoy your writing success without having to share the credits.

Learning the following basic steps can help you save thousands of dollars on a professional editing service. If you are ready with your manuscript, then just scroll down.

1. Look for trouble words

Editing is as easy as crossing out the wrong words if you know the troubling words. Go through your manuscript to find out the word with spelling variants. Some of the examples include whether/weather, there/their, to/too, or affect/effect. Use the word search function to find all variants of troubling words and phrases. If you are not sure about it, there is no shame in checking them online.

2. Work on crutch words

Aside from the necessary articles and prepositions, you may be surprised to find a number of words that you usually use over and over again. Simply using the word “immediately" too much can make each event appear unnecessarily rushed.

A free Word Usage and Frequency add-in are available for Microsoft Word users to help you along the process. Go back to your manuscript and see where you can remove or replace them.

3. Delete double spaces

Look for additional spaces in between the words, before the punctuations and at the end of the sentences. When you're done typing, use the find function on the word and do a "find and replace" search. In a word, type two spaces in the "search" box. Now enter a single space in the "replace" box, then press Enter.

4. Keep an eye on problematic punctuations

Are you a dash chameleon, and are you adapting an otherwise innocent punctuation mark for a job you should never have done? Or does your manuscript need a semi-colonoscopy: a thorough check of the correct positioning of the semicolon and colon?

If you know you are having trouble with certain punctuation marks, look for this markup to see if you are using it correctly. If you're still unsure, ask the editor to fix it, but take note and ask him why.

5. Check for spellings

Writers are sometimes too used to the colored lines under the words and phrases on the word document. This results in a number of spelling mistakes. Do at least one spell check before submitting your manuscript to the editor or beta reader.

You can use the word spell check as well. It's a built-in editor that I'm not sure every writer uses to their advantage. You may not accept every recommendation, but at least it will save your editor’s time to fix basic errors.

6. Delete vague and subjective words

Focus on the nitty-gritty of the text. Spot and delete vague words such as could, might, maybe, more, poor, literally, actually, some, etc. These words are subjective and contribute a weak impression of your text. Remember to replace hidden verbs too.

7. Chop of descriptive inconsistencies

Make sure you don’t use complicated language to describe the settings and scenario. If it is difficult for a reader to understand, he wouldn’t be able to imagine and live your story. This will destroy the essence of true storytelling.

Tips for editing your manuscript

1. Keep your manuscript aside

When you're done typing, pause after completing your manuscript before you start editing. Do you know that Stephen King he finishes writing the first concept and puts the story in a drawer for six weeks before pulling it out for editing? He confessed this in one of his memoirs, “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.” This helps to clear your mind and come back with fresh eyes and an open mind to be creative.

2. Read your manuscript out loud

Listening to the story read aloud can bring your attention to any errors in the manuscript. Read your story by yourself out loud or to a friend. You can also record while you read and play it back. Leave a copy of the book open on your computer to fix any grammatical problems you hear while you hear your recording once again.

3. Focus on the big picture

You need to see if your character perfectly matches your theme and setting. His traits, strengths, and weaknesses are clear enough to compliment your story. Work on portraying the protagonist and antagonist's motivations in a better way. Check for consistency in their behavior. Make the readers believe with storytelling techniques that the character exists around them in reality. Make sure the character arc of all the main characters is compelling.

4. Pay attention to conflict and theme

Conflict should escalate over the course. Make the twist and events more challenging for the protagonist as the story goes on. Use descriptions that can make your reader more receptive to the theme. Read your book carefully and assess the intended theme developing through conflict. Check if the conflict is interesting enough to keep the reader glued to the book. Read through its ending and how it is resolved. Make sure that all the dramatic questions that arise throughout the plot are answered at the end of the book.

5. Prose and point of view

Make sure that the narrator’s voice is clear and consistent. If, at any point, the perspective of the character changes, and then how that change is portrayed in your book. Is there a better way to present that particular change? Then go for it. Also, look for purple prose. Eliminate every sentence that doesn’t contribute to your story.

The right way of making your story come to life is to show what is happening rather than telling.

6. Refrain from over-editing

Take an hour or two to flip through your handwriting, but beware of excessive edits. You may start to see unnecessary trees in your word forest, but don't waste your time in leveling what you have grown after efforts and hard work.

There should be a balance between exhaustion with a futile attempt at perfection and too much laziness to control spells. Do your book a favor and edit it yourself, but be careful not to overdo it.

If you are working on creating a professional impression, your adjustments shouldn't be your last resort against grammatical errors. Even with the customization steps above, you'll still need an editor to make your handwriting as smooth as possible. Click here to get in touch with professional editors who can take your story to the next level.

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