Editing Efficiently and Effectively



This made me laugh and was subtle….but goes to show that anybody can make a mistake in print.  This picture according to the photographer was spotted in a well known book company!!!




After receiving some feedback with regard to my editing skills, I stepped back and took a harder look at how I self-edit  – not something that was easy to do.  I had written my books, often over several months, spent a great deal of time nurturing a story-line and each and every one had became personal to me.  I quickly realized that the big problem was that I was too close to the book to be critical enough.  That perhaps what I really needed…was some space and the help of somebody who would not feel the need to spare my feelings.

Books such as the very valuable Mark Coker’s “The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success” cannot stress enough the importance of editing, and he wisely states that editing is not really a solo sport…but one best done with others.  I can concur wholeheartedly with this.  I did not realize just how difficult a skill this would be to master, and thought that I would share with others how I now approach my editing.

In a previous life I was a lecturer and the golden rule was always use different senses. Read, Listen and combine both for best results.  I tried to bring this into my new editing regime and post this only in the hope that others might find something useful in my system that they can bring to their own.

  1. Write book.  I do not spend time fixing spelling mistakes or grammar at this stage, as the story just has to get out.  Writing is something that eats away at me, the images and story-lines run around my brain until they can be poured out into print…only then can blessed relief be found.
  2. Leave the book for a couple of weeks…walk away.  This step gives you the breathing space from the characters and plot.
  3. Spell and grammar check the book fixing errors.
  4. Read through the book making changes where necessary.  Strangely I have found that step 2 has given me the distance to read the book as though I was the reader.  Make as many corrections as can be found, and change parts of the story which do not seem to fit or connect smoothly.
  5. Send the book to my friend to allow her to edit it (I edit hers too…it is a fair exchange).
  6. Within a week I usually receive an edited copy of my book.  She does not make any changes…only highlights errors or things that she did not understand, this is invaluable as coming from the UK I have found that many sayings and customs are different from North America.  I can then choose to accept the correction or stick with my original plan.  Neither she nor I ever become annoyed if we do not accept the others’ changes because at the end of the day it is the authors vision and we accept that about each other.
  7. Make changes based on the edited version.
  8. I read the story to her as she sits with a copy reading along.  This has been the most effective step of editing.  It is amazing how often when reading a sentence it makes perfect sense, however, the moment you hear it it sounds wrong.  Also, often when reading I or she will speak the correct word or phrase, not seeing that it is not what we have actually written.  Therefore, having that other person listening and reading along becomes a powerful editing tool.

As I say, this is only my experience and I hope that others find something that will be of value to them.  Happy writing :)

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