10 Editing Tips for Self-published Authors

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10 Editing Tips for Self-published Authors

This entry was posted in self publishing, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , on April 4, 2020 by .

About Anjita Ganguly

Co-founder & Publication Expert at Exceller Books, Anjita describes herself as a teacher by heart, traveler by passion and a publication expert by profession. An  unfaltering pursuit of literature has cultivated in her a diverse mood, lovely temperament and boundless patience – a bunch of essential qualities for managing a publishing process. She switches between being firm and friendly while coordinating between the in-house teams to deliver the most effective job. When she is not saddled with her day-to-day responsibility, she can be found tripping along uncharted territories in the hope of experiencing new people and cultures.

Today, the world of publishing is changing drastically but systematically; most say for the betterment of the authors, who work day and night to finish their manuscript. Everyone should, and are getting fair chance to get their manuscript to the audience. Like other countries, publishing industry is also changing in India. An author is becoming a self-publisher in India. Moving away from the traditional route is an encouraging option to avoid exploitation but still produce quality work that can reach the market, but with self-publishing comes greater responsibility. When you decide to publish your own book, the responsibility of making the work presentable and then selling the book also lies on your shoulders. The huge part of book publication is the editing. If a manuscript is not edited, keeping readers in mind, the book will never be able to appeal to the target group.

  1. Ask Yourself Why You are Writing the Book– The book is written keeping in mind the audience, the readers who will buy the book and finally read it. After you finish a manuscript, ask yourself if you have been able to create the query, the unsolved motive for which readers will be intrigued to look into your work. Have you been able to develop a relevance through your manuscript? Question yourself. This will help you find out the loopholes in the subject on which you can work.
  2. Let Your Manuscript Rest– Do not start editing immediately after you have finished writing. A self-publisher in India and elsewhere cannot resist the idea of finishing work and getting out the book for print and distribution. Hence the first mistake is to start editing soon after completing the main draft. You need to rest your manuscript. Give yourself the break to forget what you have just penned down. Get yourself out of the context of the work. So that every word becomes visible to your intellect and you are able to understand the problems with your script.
  3. Find the Problem Words First– Every author has some weakness or the other, and having issues with same-sounding words is pretty common. When we produce a lengthy work, we aren’t aware of the spelling and grammatical errors that we may have made throughout the script and it starts with similar sounding words that are used in different contexts like effect/affect, its/it’s, lay/lie, into/in to, further/farther, a lot/a lot etc. we may think we have done it right but a book is a difficult work, and these mistakes do happen. Find them out and replace them.
  4. Replace All Double Spacing with Single Ones after Full-stop– Another common grammatical tendency is to finish a sentence with double spaces. You can have a hard time finding them one by one. But try something simpler in MS-Word. In the Find-Replace window, enter double space in ‘Find’ and ‘Replace’ them with single space which automatically corrects this error throughout the manuscript.
  5. Read and Re-read Your First Few Chapters– The trickiest part of being a self-publisher in India, or anywhere for that matter, these days, is hooking your audience. Readers have very less attention span now, even lesser time to spend on something like a book. Most wanted information are available on the web and rest, provided in binging shows. That is, a novel is no longer entertainment for the current audience unless and until you can force them to turn over to the next page of your book. While editing, read and re-read the first chapter, the preface and the blurb (at the back of the cover) to understand if they are engaging enough so that a reader is encouraged to spend his/her time and money on your work.
  6. Re-build Your Hero– A novel whose hero isn’t interesting enough is sure to be a failure. When building characters, especially the hero, you have to make them relatable to the commoners. If people are not comfortable with how you describe your hero, they will lose interest. So read the main protagonist’s introduction over and over again while editing. Search for more information that you can include while introducing him/her. But the words need to be exciting, unique and should bring out something unusual about the character.
  7. Remove Crutch Words– Any author resorts to certain words to express a particular idea. They don’t realise themselves how many times they have repeated the same word to make sense of an idea. E.g. ‘Suddenly’ , ‘often’ and ‘however’ are words which have a chance of being repeated to express that something isn’t happening as expected, or is happening quite as many times, or just let aside. Every author has his/her own crutch words which they tend to repeat in their narration. While editing mark such dangerous obviousness. Replace words that have been said multiple words with synonyms of the same. Like ‘often’ can be replaced with ‘usually’ or ‘may a times’. In fact, there are several software which help you find these.
  8. Edit Your Structure Wisely– while reading your manuscript, hear yourself carefully. Focus on the order of things. The brain is trained to appreciate the story in a certain way. Writings which do not fit into that, gets undigested. Plot structure is very important. Every story should have a beginning, a plot development, complication of things, conflicts and then a denouement or resolution. A self-publisher in India should know how important it is to have a good structure to your narration acknowledging the amount of rejections they have to face from traditional publishers. Also focus on where you are ending a chapter and where you are beginning the next, while you focus on structure of your work.
  9. Search for Problematic Punctuation“An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke.”, Scott Fitzgerald. Unnecessary punctuation in a manuscript can actually worsen things than improving them. You may take help of a professional editor to spot these.
  10. Hear Yourself Out– the best way to identify mistakes is to hear them. So, read out the manuscript to yourself aloud. Many things that may not have seemed problematic while writing will emerge when you hear them with your ears.