Nowadays, all authors are financially responsible for getting their manuscript revised, edited, and proof-read, even if they intend to go the traditional route. Editors for the large publishing companies have a landslide of work to pick from, so they aren’t going to accept unedited messes, no matter how good the story is.
Hiring an editor is not cheap. Freelance editors are in business for themselves and must be paid for their work. Therefore, a 70,000 word manuscript can cost from around $700.00 or more to have edited, depending on the services you want.
An editor spends many hours combing the manuscript, so if you break their fees down to an hourly wage, they probably aren’t charging enough.
I always recommend that authors hire an editor if they can, because our eyes may skip typos and autocorrect errors in our own work. Those who are regular readers of my posts know that I am horrible at catching my typos and other errors.
We overlook the flaws in our work because we are as immersed in visualizing the scene as we were during the moments when we first wrote it. Our eyes see what we imagine to be there, rather than the typos or missing words.
Many editors offer a service called Beta Reading at a much more affordable price. Beta reads are helpful in identifying areas you may want to revise.
Be careful how you phrase your comments on their work. Be accurate and find positive things to point out as well as areas that need work. If you are harsh and dismissive, your work will receive that treatment in return.
Regardless, if you intend to publish what you write, you are responsible for making the line edits in your work.
If you are unable to afford a full professional edit, there is a way to make a pretty good stab at revising your own manuscript. However, it is time consuming, which is why an editor’s services are not cheap.
Open your Manuscript.
Break it into separate chapters by copying and pasting each individual chapter to a new document. Doing this preserves the original manuscript, and breaks it down into manageable chunks.
Save the chapters in a new file labeled with the word ‘revisions.’ For a current work-in-progress, I would label this new file: Barons_Hollow_revisions_02-12-2020
Clearly and consistently label each chapter. Make sure the chapter numbers are in the proper sequence, and that they don’t skip a number. For a work in progress, Baron’s Hollow, I labeled my individual chapter files this way:
Print out the first chapter. Everything looks different printed out, and you will see many things you don’t notice on the computer screen.
- Turn to the last page. Cover the page, leaving only the last paragraph visible.
- Starting with the last paragraph on the last page, begin reading, working your way forward.
- Look for typos and garbled sentences.
- With a yellow highlighter, mark each place that needs correction.
YOU MUST UNDERSTAND AND OBEY THE BASIC RULES OF GRAMMAR.
First, you need something called a style guide. As an editor, I regularly refer to my copy of The Chicago Manual of Style. If you are an author writing fiction you someday hope to publish, and have questions about sentence construction and word usage, this is the book for you.
The researchers at CMOS realize that English is a living changing language, and when generally accepted practices within the publishing industry evolve, they evolve too.
A less expensive option you might consider investing in is Bryan A. Garner’s Chicago Guide to Grammar, Usage, and Punctuation. This is a resource with all the answers to questions you might have regarding grammar and sentence structure. It takes the CMOS and boils it down to just the grammar.
For quick reference, here is a list of links to articles I’ve posted on the basics of grammar:
- Commas, and Basic Punctuation (posted January 28, 2019)
- Ellipses, Exclamation Points, Em Dashes, and Interrobangs (posted November 11, 2019)
Authors are like everyone else. We get tired and sometimes take shortcuts.
Punctuation is not an area where we can cut corners. Punctuation serves as the traffic signals, keeping the words flowing at a good rate, and avoiding verbal chaos.
Those who think the common rules of grammar don’t matter to readers are doing their work and their reputation a disservice.
You don’t have to be perfect, but readers want to enjoy the book, not struggle through rambling, garbled sentences.
Self-editing is not an easy task. As a rule, I don’t recommend it, because we authors see what we want to see. However, the costs of such services place severe constraints on some of us. This means that hiring an editor is out of reach for some.
With that in mind, on Monday we will look at how the placement of words, both nouns and verbs, affects the flow of our narrative.