Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Guest Post: Self-Editing Tips: Things We Can Do to Help Our Editors by editor Mickey Reed

Today we have the super sweet editor Mickey Reed on The Authorteers. She's going to give authors some pointers on edits they can do before hiring a professional editor.

Self-Editing Tips: Things We Can Do to Help Our Editors

Hey all! My name is Mickey Reed, and I’m a freelance copyeditor, writer, and blogger. Today, I am hanging out with the lovely ladies of The Authorteers (thanks for having me!) to talk about editing!

All authors need editing. Really. Our brains can only catch so much. With that in mind, you’ll probably need multiple editors to catch all the mistakes. Even then, there might still be a comma out of place or an extra word here and there. But there are quite a few self-editing tricks you can use to send your editor the cleanest copy of your manuscript and save yourself from some editing mistakes.
  1. Use Word’s text-to-speech function
    If you have the newest version of Word, you can add the “speak” function to your Quick Access Toolbar. Then highlight your text and press the button. This allows you to hear what you’ve written. It’s a different medium, so your brain works in other ways to catch errors. You’ll be able to listen for missing, extra, or overused words, awkward phrasing, and unclear sentences.
  2. Put your manuscript on your e-reader
    When you change the environment of your work, you can look at it with a fresh pair of eyes. Use the comment function to keep notes, or have a pen and paper at the ready to track the changes you want to make later. Some e-readers also have that text-to-speech functionality, so that might come in handy later.
  3. Change the font of your manuscript
    Much like moving your manuscript to your e-reader, this gives you a new look at what you’ve written. Make sure the font is very different from the one you wrote with. As you read it back, you’ll likely catch errors you wouldn’t have while reading it back in the same font.
  4. Print your manuscript
    Get that red pen out, fill your printer with paper, and hit the print button. Then read it back and make notes in the margins or right on the text about what you want to edit. I’ve never done this, but I’ve seen many people try it. It’s a LOT of paper, so please recycle, use in a giveaway to your readers, or find some other good use for it when you’re finished.
  5. Edit in rounds
    Just like you have different editors for different things, you can also edit your own manuscript for different things each time you read it. Perhaps the first time is for the overall, big-picture stuff. Is your story tight? Are there any plot holes? Does the tension hold up throughout the book? Next, you can edit for smaller-picture things. Does each paragraph flow from one to the next? What sentences need to be reworded to avoid awkward phrasing? Is the dialogue clear and concise? A third round can be performed to catch any last-minute typos or punctuation marks before you send it off to your editor.
  6. Take grammar/punctuation/editing/writing classes
    There’s nothing wrong with taking ownership of your work. Know your craft. Keep learning and growing as an author. Not all editors were created equal, so take responsibility of knowing who’s a good fit for your work, who will be able to fulfill your editing needs, etc. And that means knowing a bit about the field yourself. You certainly don’t need to be an expert, but your work will only benefit from having some working knowledge of grammar and punctuation. 
Those are my self-editing tips. You can find more ideas and tricks other authors use to self-edit their work if you Google it, but these are definitely the big ones I’d recommend before sending your manuscript to your editor(s). I hope they can be of some use to you! If you have any questions, feel free to contact me using any of the social media below. Thanks, and happy self-editing!

Thanks so much for the great editing tips, Mickey!

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