How to Edit a Novel Professionally?
If you’ve written a novel, it’s no doubt been a labour of love and you’ve invested a lot of your time and effort into it. You’re proud of what you’ve created and can’t wait to get it published.
Writing, however, is only the first step in a long process. Before you can even consider submitting your book to a publisher or literary agent, you need to edit it thoroughly so it’s in a fit state for publication. Although it’s a process that many authors dislike, fiction editing is essential and will make you a better writer.
Essential Tips on Editing and Rewriting
Whether you’re planning to self-publish or go down the traditional publishing route, a thorough edit of your book is essential. To make it easier, you need to follow a few steps:
- Wait. Once you’ve completed the first draft of your book, don’t dive straight into the editing process. Instead, put it to one side for at least a month and take a complete break. This will clear your mind and mean you can look at the book anew.
- Read and assess your book. You won’t do this only once but several times, and each pass will be looking for different things.
- A developmental edit looks at any issues with the storyline to identify plot holes and to make sure everything flows and is integrated properly. You don’t need to make changes straight away but should make comprehensive notes of any discrepancies so you can fix them later.
- A copyedit corrects mistakes such as spelling and grammatical errors. After spending countless hours writing your book, you will have become blind to typos and other simple mistakes, so it’s a good idea to concentrate closely on the words themselves.
Make as many passes as you think are necessary, and it’s worthwhile reading aloud during at least one pass because the way the book sounds may highlight problems.
- Ensure the manuscript is formatted correctly before sending it to a literary agent or publisher. Requirements may vary, but in general, this means a Microsoft Word document with double-spaced, Times New Roman, 12-point type, no paragraph indents and a page break before each chapter.
- Engage beta readers. Beta readers offer a different viewpoint on your novel and should be able to give you constructive criticism. Choose your beta readers carefully—it’s best to avoid family members and close friends and to emphasise that you won’t be offended by what they say.
Although this article is about telling you how to edit your novel in a professional way, sometimes you need to use actual professionals to achieve what you need. You may, in fact, do some of the work yourself and then use professionals for the final pass to get a different view and to put a finishing touch on your manuscript.
At Capstone Editing, we can provide freelance book editors to help perfect your book. We also offer non-fiction book editing, essay editing and English language proofreading services. If you feel overwhelmed by the prospect of editing your own novel, we also have copywriting and editing courses that will provide everything you need to know so you can make your book as good as it can be.