Now that you’ve finished writing your book’s first draft and are ready to send it to the literary agent and publisher, there’s one more thing you’ll need to do. Proofreading and editing! This step is an essential part of the writing process, and it can mean the difference between a bestseller and a flop.
But unfortunately, not many writers are well aware of how to actually edit and proofread their own work. Either they’re not sure where to start, or they just rush it and ignore little details in the process.
In this article, we are going to cover this aspect for you by sharing our top tips on how to edit your book so it turns out to be the best it can be. Let’s jump right in!
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Rest a Few Days Before Starting
When you’ve finished writing your book, there’s a lot that’s on your mind regarding the story and characters of your book. In all this rush, it can be easy to ignore little mistakes during proofreading. That’s why it is advised to rest your manuscript for a few days and focus on any other aspect of your routine.
It will clear your mind, and you’ll forget most of what you have written in your book. This approach will help you come back and self-edit the manuscript in the best possible way without ignoring the little mistakes in your plot.
Start by Editing Book Cover
Yes, that’s right! Book covers do need editing both in terms of text written on them and the illustrations. Even if you haven’t got your book cover designed, you can still look for some changes in the title of your book.
If you think your book’s title is too long or it just doesn’t describe what’s written inside, don’t hesitate to rewrite it. Make it as concise and informative as possible. One more thing you’ll have to keep in mind is to follow the correct title capitalization rules.
If you are in doubt or don’t know what the correct rules are, it’s advised to refer to your style guide provided by the institution or the publisher.
Listen to Your Book
There’s no one perfect way to start editing your book. But if you’re struggling to figure out where to begin, we suggest trying something a little unusual, like listening to your manuscript. This may sound like a strange piece of advice, but it’s worth the effort.
Listening to your book can help you catch errors, typos, and other awkward sentences you might not catch when reading it silently. Plus, it can help you get a feel for your book’s overall flow and pacing.
You can either use a pdf reader app that lets you hear the text, or an easier way is to use your PC’s built-in narrator system. The narrator will read everything that’s on your screen. You can turn it on or off as you want.
So, grab your manuscript and a cup of coffee, and settle in for a long listen. You will get to experience the real essence of your written words.
Use Editing Software
Before you hire an editor to proofread and edit your manuscript, it’s best to use editing software to spot all possible typos and errors in your text. Editing software is a great option because it’s relatively affordable, and you can do it yourself.
All you have to do is find the editing software that you find best. There are a lot of options to choose from, including Grammarly, Reedsy book editor, ProWritingAid, and several others. Just install software on your computer and run spell and grammar checks to find basic mistakes and typos.
Software like Grammarly can also give you suggestions on how to improve your sentence flow and remove extra words from your text. Remember, you don’t have to be tech-savvy to use these programs. All of these have a user-friendly interface that can be used by anyone.
Find the Help of Beta Readers
No matter how much you think you know about writing and editing, it’s always helpful to get another set of eyes on your work. Beta readers are people who read your book and give you feedback on things like plot, characters, and pacing.
Finding beta readers can be as easy as asking your friends and family to read your book. But if you want to get more professional feedback, you can also find beta readers online. They are professionals who charge to read your book and are liable to give constructive feedback.
Replace Passive Voice with Active Voice
If you’re like most writers, you probably use a lot of passive voice in your writing. This can make your prose sound dull and can make it hard for readers to follow your meaning. So, the best approach is to convert such sentences into active voices.
Active voice is generally easier to read and understand, so making this change can have a big impact on your writing. Plus, it can help you to sound more authoritative and confident in your work, and the best thing is that it improves the readability of your text.
Of course, you’re a writer yourself, and we don’t have to tell you what a passive voice is and how to convert it into an active one. So, we’re leaving this part to you.
Pay Special Attention to Dialogue
Including dialogue in your book is the best way to introduce your characters and make them authoritative. It also improves your story flow and brings your characters to life. But not every dialogue carries the same authority.
Dialogues that are more natural and informal have a great impact on your readers in keeping them hooked. Also, make sure to give each character a new paragraph and use punctuation carefully.
Keeping your characters true to their voice and conveying the real meaning of a conversation is the most important aspect you’ll have to look for. If you’re finding any ambiguity, make sure to rewrite the dialogue in a way that advances your story and not only talks about fluff.