What Every Writer Should Do Before Giving Their Book to an Editor

written by L.S. King, structural editor with Indie Solutions

Editors are important collaborators in the publishing process. They help turn your rough piece of coal into a diamond that shines in any light. They not only look at grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure, they also study storyline and characterizations. 

There are a few things the writer can do before handing their baby to an editor for that final polish. Doing your part in the process will not only get you more bang for your buck by allowing the editor to pay attention to the things that need closer scrutiny but also teaches you to look at your work critically, and that eventually turns you into a better writer.

All beginning writers make the same mistakes; doing the following can speed the process of getting better at your craft.

1.      Read your completed manuscript start to finish. Look for and correct the following:

a.    Repetition

b.    Typos

c.     Awkward phrasing

d.    Missing or incorrect punctuation

2.     Don’t be afraid to cut! That brilliant idea you had while writing might not work so well during your read-through. Don’t be afraid to delete. Chances are if you don’t think it belongs there, neither will the editor; if you don’t cut it, they will. 

3.     Trust your writer’s instinct; if it feels wrong, grit your teeth and get rid of it. 

4.     Develop your writer’s ear. Hear what you’re writing so you can fix it. If you can’t read and hear at the same time, read your story out loud, or get a friend or program to do it. Often the ear catches things the eyes miss. 

5.     Never, ever turn in a manuscript without reading through it at least once, thinking Let the editor fix it. We generally know when you’re being lazy, and often we won’t work with you again.

I am a writer. I’m also a terrific editor, but I know I won’t catch everything because I’m too close to the work. Neither will you. And that’s where a professional editor comes in. After you’ve gone through your manuscript fixing the obvious stuff, give your baby to a professional editor to complete the process. 

Writers and editors work together to create a wonderful book. When each does their part, you end up with that shiny diamond and lots of great reviews.