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Preparing Your Book for the Editing Phase

If you’re selling a car, you are likely to wash it, clear all the junk out of the boot, and wipe down the dashboard, vacum even under the seats, and ensure you’re going to get a good price for it.   If you are selling a house, then you’ll likely fix those irritating little dripping tap and sqeaky floorboards, paint the spare room, and maybe replace the curtains in a couple of rooms, right?

Why do you do this?  It’s not only because you want to present your car or house in it’s best view, but because you know those things need doing, and so you do them, because you know there’s maybe a little more money to be made by doing so.     When it comes to getting your manuscript ready for an editor to go through it, you need to think like you’re selling your house or car.  The things you know are there that need fixing and can be taken care of by you, will translate into two things:

  1. A lower fee charged by your editor for him or her not having to take care of the obvious tasks.
  2. A little more respect from your editor for your having taken the time and made the effort to present your manuscript as ready for them to work their magic.

Why are these both so important?

If you check with your editor and /or publisher before the professional editing phase about things like use of ” or ‘ to show dialogue, UK Evs US English, various spellings of some words, how they like to treat footnotes, indexing, or references etc, you are going to save perhaps hundreds of dollars invested in their time and efforts by their not having to change simple things.   Some things you can even line up on with your editor or publisher from when you start to write.   This will also save you a lot of time to get right at the start.

Your editor needs to be able to focus on the sentence structure, the content that flows, the parts that don’t work, and the things that don’t make sense.   That’s what you use an editor for.   However, every editor I know  – and I’ve worked with quite a few now –  hates having to do simple and obvious corrections all through a manuscript – it slows down the process considerably. And can be frustrating.

Having your editor respect your efforts to get your manuscript ready for them, means they are more likely to love doing your editing, and given how much reading they have to do for a living, having them love your work just makes for a better relationship all round.   And that’s worth having don’t you think?

Your editor should be part of your team – work closely with them and you’ll find your writing improves signifiantly over time too.

 

Happy Writing…

 

 

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The Role of Your Pre-Launch Team

One of the things I keep going on about, and am often asked to explain further is the concept of having a great pre-launch team, or Beta Readers.

Who are they?

Maybe friends, family, colleagues, or other writers.  Maybe perfect strangers.  But often the best people to have on your team are fans of your books.  People who will give you  straight up advise and feedback about what they do and don’t like about your manuscript – before you publish it.  You can recruit fans in all sorts of ways, but mostly I get mine through my social media accounts.  When I’ve finished a manuscript, I post about it, and ask for beta readers.

These people may offer editing tips, and tell you about the many mistakes you still have in your manuscript, but taht’s ok.  Forewarn them they will be there for finding.  This process is usually part of your pre-edit phase.

Invite them to tell you what they do and don’t like, what they would suggest you add, change, or think about.   Invite them to review your manuscript formally with a letter outlining your expectations for their getting an advance look at your latest work in progress.  (If you sign up for my newsletter, you can obtain a copy of the beta readers template I use, among other resources available FREE on this site – just head to the bottom of the screen.)

Their Responsibility

You must remind them that editing and proofing is not what you’re seeking – but that all errors will be gratefully noted.  And invite them to look out for the finished version which will be published and available etc.   But also ask if they like the book, to please post a review on Amazon please.

And most of all, remember to thank them for their time and response.  You might put this into the acknowledgements, or send them a personal note, and a printed, autographed copy when it’s published.

Most of all, the value of having a good team of beta readers is that the dozen or so key readers – some people invite more, but I find that hard to manage – is that they are fresh eyes on your manuscript.  Even your editor and publishing coach can end up getting too close to your work to be able to step back and see some of the missing bits or overplayed parts easily.

Fnally, a warning.  You have to be thick skinned if you want real objective feedback.  You may not like the critiquing, but it’s worth having.  And then you will have additional writing to do.    But chances are you will also have a much better book as a result.

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