Editing by a novice

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I know what your all thinking. Editing advice from me? I can hear the guffaws and cackles from the peanut gallery. After my first book I was determined to be a better editor. I know that I am far from a professional but I have learned a great deal these past few months. After I finished writing my first draft of book two, ‘Isle of night’, I really wished there was help out there for a beginner like myself. I did find a few articles but for some reason none of them really resonated with me.

I struggled with this for a few days but I think I finally found a way that makes sense to me. Like I said I’m not a professional editor, in fact, I still find it hard to call myself a writer. I’m hoping to share some of my tips for people like me. I have found hundreds of struggling and novice writers on Twitter. It always makes me feel good in a way to see that there are so many others having the same issues as me. I feel like there is a whole underground society of self published authors who are just trying to make their voices heard out there. It makes me a bit warm and fuzzy to know that I’m in this little circle of authors.

I realize that we are all different. Every one of us has our own way of doing things. I just wanted to share a few of my tips. They may help someone or they may not. I do however feel that we need to stick together. Being a writer and trying to self publish is hard enough. Let’s help each other out. There are a million people in this world that are always prepared to strike and bring you down. I would much rather be the one to help someone up than knock them over.

Now enough with this Dr.Phil crap, let’s get editing.

1) When you are done with your first draft, take some time off! I didn’t follow that when I did my first book and I wished I had. It’s hard distancing yourself from your work but in the end its for the best. Reading what you wrote with fresh eyes will help you with the editing process.

2) Editing sucks no matter which way you slice it. After reading my rough draft of ‘Isle of Skye’, I wanted to cry. I couldn’t believe how many errors I made. Honestly, it almost took away the pride and sense of accomplishment I felt when I was finished. Book two however, was more enjoyable for me. I think it’s because I’m more relaxed and confident. You have to step back during the process of writing a book otherwise it will consume you and not in a good way.

3)When you’re writing your first draft, make sure to go back over and edit as you write. After each chapter, no matter how tired I was, I still forced myself to read what I had just written several times. My first book, I just kept going and going. I foolishly thought that it was best to strike while the irons hot and keep rolling. Worst advice ever! Read and edit as you go along, it will not only save time but it will also keep you sane when you start editing!

4) OK, so I figured out a way to edit that really works for me. I tested this theory out and was amazed by my findings. I read my first chapter on my computer. I took a few notes and thought to myself ‘Hey, this isn’t too bad’. Then I opened my master file on my kindle and Holy Moley was I shocked. I couldn’t believe how many mistakes I had missed. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m used to reading on the kindle or if it’s because the screen is smaller and I had to focus more but I was amazed at the difference between reading it on my kindle versus reading it off my computer screen.

5) Grab a notebook and a pen. Instead of trying to fix everything on the kindle I decided to do it the old fashioned way. I pulled out my notebook and wrote down every mistake I saw in each chapter. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to pick up on it later when I was on the computer but it really wasn’t a big deal. I made sure to include a few words before and after when I wrote my book punch list.

6) I have a confession to make. I am a comma whore. I fully own this flaw as an author. So when Word tells you to add a semi colon at the end of a word, instead of adding a comma, rewrite and use a period!

7) Don’t get too stressed out. If your feeling overwhelmed, take a break and regroup. The world is not going to end if you chill out for a few days. You’re not being lazy or a procrastinator. You just wrote a freaking book. Make it the best you possibly can and if that means it takes a few weeks longer to publish than so be it. That’s the great thing about being a self publishing author, we don’t have deadlines or people up our ass to finish. We’re not writing one crappy book after another to please our publisher. We’re doing it for all the right reasons and on our terms.

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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