Editing – When to get help and how to find a good editor

This week, I thought I would answer one of the most common question I get asked – Can you recommend a good editor?

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My usual answer is – while I edit my own work, I can recommend the services of one of my beta readers. She does a basic editing service that she tries to keep affordable for new authors. You can find her at www.makingmanuscripts.com .

If that’s all you wanted to know, then feel free to stop reading – because I’m about to start rambling, and this could possibly get really boring.

As I stated above, I do edit my own work. I am by no means perfect – no one is – but I feel I do a decent job, and have been complemented on my editing (which is why I get asked about good editors a lot).

So, here is how I edit – first I write my manuscript from start to finish. When I go through it again, I do a quick edit, reading it in my mind and changing things around that stop the flow of my reading. I also flesh out my story this time around (it’s already been beta read) which is when I consider my story ‘finished’.

At this point, I send it back to my beta readers and ask them to please point out any errors they find, or any sentences that just don’t make sense.

While they are busy reading for me again, I start to go through the manuscript myself. I use a program called ‘Whitesmoke’ (if you download this, say ‘no’ to the toolbar – you don’t want it), it’s a grammar and spelling checker that is much better than microsoft word. However, you can’t rely on it to do the editing for you. I find it useful, as it points out words that I’ve used repeatedly, suggests comma and full stop placement and also puts the text into a new window, so you have to look at it outside of your manuscript.

Once I have finished going through the manuscript, I collate all of the errors my beta readers found, and check that I caught all of them. I then spend a couple of days reading other books to get my mind away from my own manuscript, that way, I can look at it again with fresh eyes.

Next, I convert my MS into kindle format and read it on my kindle, making notes as I go along and find errors. Normally, that’s where I’ll leave it, but if I have enough time, I’ll run it through a text to speech program – like coolreader (on android) and listen to it read in a robotic voice. Doing that is a great way to find any errors you might not be seeing, because in cool reader, the voice pauses at commas and fullstops, and you can hear if the text flows or stalls.

I write fairly succinctly the first time around, so this method works well for me. Although, as I am starting to get a lot busier these days, for Too Close, I have enlisted the help of an assistant who helps me with the day to day running of my business and also edits for me. So this time I stopped after my first major edit (the one with my beta readers and Whitesmoke) and then sent it to her – this way I’ll have more time to start working on my next manuscript, I’ll be much more productive this way (I hope!)

Now, this method may work for you if you’re fairly confident in your own ability to edit your work. If you did some sort of literature/ linguistics degree at uni/college, you may feel that you have a fairly good eye. But, if you are reading your work and you can’t wrap your head around all of those grammar rules you’ll find at websites like http://www.grammar-monster.com/ or http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/grammar-girl, then it may be time to find some help.

If you are friends with other writers on Facebook or some of the other social media websites out there, then you may be able to get a recommendation from one of them. Although, if you don’t have any connections yet, a simple Google search, will bring up a bunch of different editing services.

A good editor will be very busy, so be sure to find one early. However, a big question is – how do you know if an editor is any good?

A great way to know, is to read a couple of the books they have worked on – every book you read will have a couple of errors in it, simply because humans work on it, and not one of us is perfect. But, if you can find errors everywhere, then move on – try out someone else.

Also, have a look at the reviews of the books they have worked on – some reviewers LOVE pointing out that there are grammatical errors in a self published book, so you’ll find out if there are any problems that way.

Well, I think that’s it! If you made it this far, you just got all the advice I can come up with on this subject – HOPEFULLY, it has been somewhat informative.

Next week I’ll post a new FAQ. Until then, happy writing (or editing as is most likely the case if you happened upon this post and don’t even know who I am).

Take Care,

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