Assuming you’ve already written the first draft of your book, you’re ready to move on to the editing process.
Edit your book.
Michael runs a rewrite and edit class. After the first draft, you don’t go straight to an editor. Editing is an exercise in decluttering.
- Begin with reverse editing. This is where you read your book one sentence at a time from the back to the front of the book. This will help you see which sentences need to be corrected. Then read it from front to back to decide what else you need to edit.
- Do word searches for overused words such as: it, that, and just. You can use any words in dialogue, but these words don’t add value outside of dialogue. Kill the adverbs. Eliminate 90% of them. They always diminish the power of your verb. Instead of saying “gave,” say “threw it at her.” Get rid of as many is, was, were words as possible.
- Only allow one exclamation point per book. If you can’t make a sentence written to where people feel the exclamation in the sentence, then you haven’t written it right.
The rewrite process is beautiful. Once you have something that can be managed, it’s completely different from your first manuscript. This is when things can get really fun. This is the craft of writing. Editing helps your book to improve and get better and better. This step should help you to get even more excited about your book and make you proud of it.
Find readers to give you feedback.
Get some people to read your book. Find readers to give you feedback. Ask them if they have any issues. “Look for a person who’s a bit catty and ask him or her to read your book. You just take the best of what they say and ignore the rest. They’ll be the most honest with you, but they’ll give you some incredibly good insights that your friends would gloss over,” Michael says.
Your friends know your vernacular, how you talk and think. The person who doesn’t know you well won’t pick up on your personality. “I used to recommend eight different readers, but that’s too many. Three is a sweet number. A lot of people say they’re going to beta read for you but they don’t come through. So you have to keep asking until you find people who come through. The catty person is the one who is usually itching to tear you up,” Michael says.
Find a good editor.
After you’ve cleaned up some of the small issues with your beta readers, then your editor can focus on continuity. Most people think the editor’s job is to correct grammar, but the key thing a professional editor does is match the vernacular in your book. You have to use terminology that’s germane to your genre. If you don’t, your reader will balk. They help you make sure it’s written in the language of your readers. You’re not going to find this sort of editor for less than 1.5¢/word. You have to make sure the words you choose are in the veins of your market.
You don’t want an editor to be bogged down by little things. It’s best to clean up your book as much as possible. There’s a lot of drag on an editor if they have to get your book up to snuff before they can even begin editing. If you editor has to labor on basic writing stuff, then it’s much more difficult for them to take your book to the next level.
Even in romance, there are a number of genres: new age romance, old school romance, erotica, paranormal and so on. There are so many different genres. Each one will have certain words that won’t work in the others.
Editors need to be well read in your genre. You have to research your editors. It’s also a personality match. They’re going to tell you your baby is ugly and you have to make that work. They’re going to point out the scars and hairlip that you need to get out of there. Lots of writers want to keep favorite lines that shouldn’t be in there, but the editor knows best.
“Ray Bradbury is one of my favorite authors. Zen and the Art of Writing is a quick fix motivator. I’ve read this book at least a half a dozen times. I loan this book out a lot. In fact, I’m not sure where my copy is right now,” Michael said.
Michael Ray King is the author of Go Write and You Won’t Go Wrong: Write Your Book in 30 Days! He’s a five-time award winning author. In addition to conducting classes, he is also a personal writing coach.