Before delving into the editing of your book, I’d suggest allowing yourself a few breathing days. This will allow you to have more perspective and you’ll be better able to correct your first draft. I’ve also found that taking a few days off allowed me to emotionally disconnect myself from the copy and that made it much easier for me to cut out entire chapters when I felt they wouldn’t serve my readers.
Here are a few additional things I learned during the first editing process that might help you as well:
1. Make it stand out. You’ll want to use red pens and markers to really allow you to make some surgical changes to your copy.
2. Print your entire book on paper. You don’t have a hope in hell of catching errors by reading your book on a computer screen – YOU NEED TO PRINT THE ENTIRE BOOK ON PAPER!!! It’s tempting to want to go over your copy on your screen. That might work for emails and blog posts, but when you need to review a 60, 100 or 200-page book, you need to use good old fashion editing methods. If you’re concerned about the environment, you can print the book double sided to save on paper. Although I had edited the book by reviewing it a few times on the computer screen, when I printed my first (aka rough) draft, I was taken aback by the number of mistakes.
3. Read when fully rested & read aloud. Editing is a lonely and somewhat boring necessity of good writing. Make it easier on you by reviewing your copy when it’s the best time of the day for you. I’m far better at this in the morning, as I tend to fall asleep due to the monotony of the work in the afternoon. I also would suggest reading the copy aloud because it’s the only way to know if the words you have in your end are actually on paper. Finally, reading each sentence in the paragraph aloud helps you quickly recognize errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
4. Organize in logic sequence. If a sentence doesn’t logically follow the one preceding it, you’ll need to re-organize your copy. Don’t be afraid to re-organize ideas—whole paragraphs, sentences, parts of text—around like blocks to improve organization.
5. Create anticipation.To ensure overall continuity among paragraphs, tell your reader what point you’re discussing, what you’ll talk about next, etc. You may need to write some new sections, transition sentences, or whole paragraphs. I had to do all of these during the first draft.
6. Become a copy surgeon. I’ve eluded this a few times, but when you edit your first draft, you’ll really want to be a sort of a military drill surgeon who takes no prisoners. This extreme attitude will ensure you’re going to be able to publish a high quality book.
Here are some questions to keep in the back of your mind while you’re editing:
a. Does each sentence in the paragraph refer to the central idea stated in the topic sentence of that paragraph? Throw out irrelevant sentences or move them to better locations.
b. Look at the length of each paragraph. If a paragraph is short, see if you’ve left questions unanswered. If it’s too long, see if you can break it up into two or more shorter paragraphs.
c. Does each sentence follow the preceding one logically? Do you give your readers clues (words such as thus, therefore, first, because, but) to help them follow your thoughts? Rearrange sentences and add transitions if necessary.
d. Do your sentences sound dull because they’re too short? Do they sound complex because they’re long? Combine some; break others up into simple sentences. Variety in sentence length makes your writing more interesting to read.
e. Omit needless words and search the thesaurus for useful synonyms.
f. Circle all verbs. Change passive voice to active voice. Use fresh, powerful verbs.
7. Become very critical of your work.This is not going to be an easy exercise for every author, but it’s an essential one. You’re going to need to take a step back and be critical of your work. It’s really about looking at your copy with the reader in mind.
Here are a few things to consider if you want to publish a high quality book that offers loads of value:
a. Do you believe what you’ve written?
b. Do you understand your own ideas and your reasons?
c. Does every paragraph, sentence, and word serve to develop your ideas?
d. Do you speak simply and clearly to your reader?
e. Have you cited your sources appropriately?
I’d love to hear from you. If you have tips to share that you’ve picked up on during your editing journey, I’d love to hear about them.
>>> Check out more book marketing & book promotion posts: