You’ve finished your manuscript, and you’re excited to send it off to a professional editor. Before you do, make sure that your manuscript is ready for editing by putting in some editing time yourself. You’ll catch some embarrassing mistakes, and set your manuscript up for success.
The first step to editing your own work is to take a break. When you first finish writing, you know your own work too well to see the flaws. Spending a week or two away from it will allow you to come back to it with fresh eyes.
What to look for when editing
Look for content that needs cutting. First drafts are often overwritten, so unnecessary content in your manuscript is a big red flag to professional editors that you haven’t done any editing yourself. Start with the big picture. Are there any chapters or scenes that aren’t serving their purpose?
Get down into the details. Are there any unnecessary words such as “that”? Are you using adjectives and adverbs instead of strong nouns and verbs?
Trim the fat
Another thing to keep in mind is your manuscript’s word count. Does it fall within or near the range that’s expected for your genre? If it is very different, you may want to add or cut content. An editor isn’t going to take you seriously if you have a 10,000 or 200,000-word manuscript when the average for your genre is 80,000.
After your first edit, print out your manuscript and read it out loud. These two things allow you to experience your work in a different format and catch things you didn’t before. Reading aloud gives you a sense of pacing and wording that you can’t get from reading silently.
Finally, give your manuscript to someone you trust to read. Since you know everything there is to know about your work, another person can provide an objective eye and ensure that your writing is clear. It can be hard to listen to constructive criticism of your work, but even so, take their feedback seriously. They can see holes in your work that you can’t.