Julie Coulter Bellon class on self-editing was wonderful! Oh how I wish I could make her notes into a booklet and make it mandatory reading before submission. (Julie, we should talk. . .)
I cannot tell you how many manuscripts I’ve rejected over the years due to the issues Julie discussed in her class. (Lots and lots.) Too many errors will cause a good story to be rejected simply because of the time it would take to clean it up.
Julie covered basic editing (CLAW—4 Secrets to Self-Editing) and Deep Editing. Just a few of the items she mentioned were:
- Spelling and grammar errors—run your spelling and grammar check but don’t rely on it to find all the mistakes.
- Watch out for too many adverbs and adjectives, inconsistent tense and subject/verb confusion, clichés and repititious words, and POV problems.
- Let others read your mss before sending it out.
- Print and read a hard copy. On-screen editing is not good enough.
- Take a break (days or weeks) and come back to it when your eyes are fresh.
- Create a checklist of things to look for that are specific to you—your favorite overused words and phrases, your problem areas.
- Create a big picture checklist, covering things like voice, chapter hooks, character motivation, story timeline and other things an editor will be looking for.
It’s very important to send your very best, highly polished work out.
3 thoughts on “Self-Editing Before You Submit”
Great advice! I definitely think one of the most difficult things about preparing a manuscript for submission is finding someone to read your work who will be truly honest. People who will simply say “It’s great!” are a dime a dozen. When you find someone who will truly explore what can make a story better, that’s when you’ve found the treasure that can make the difference between publication and rejection.
The thing that a publisher looks for, ultimately, is how well they think a book will sell. How much exposure can they get out of the title or the author? That is why celebrities (many use a ghostwriter) are rarely turned down and, in fact, are often offered huge advances. Having said that, I don’t discount a publishers desire to put out a well written book. There is the credibility factor. In the LDS market if a General Authority submits a work of fiction, and some have, does the publisher/editor receive it differently. What I mean is do they say immediately it would not be a good idea to reject this. Let’s see if we can clean it up. Because this name will sell.
I agree with Traci that it’s hard to find a reader who will understand what you’re trying to say and give an honest and knowledgeable appraisal of your work. Most of the time this involves the output of funds which some authors can afford, but many cannot.
Finally, I do not disagree with points made concerning submitting a quality mss. And always remember that your first editor should be your Savior. If it doesn’t meet His standards it shouldn’t be submitted.
LDSP, I’m flattered that you attended my class and thrilled that you enjoyed it. I think that, at times, authors can be unsure of where to start when polishing their manuscript and as an editor (and an author) who likes checklists, I was hoping that my checklists could help others with a basic edit, content edit, and storyline edit. Or at least give them a place to start. So, thank you for your comments on my class and I’m glad I could help. You can talk to me anytime! 🙂
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