Editing your manuscript is a daunting but essential task. When you finally add the last word to your masterpiece, chances are you will want nothing more than to throw it at some agents and get the wheels of publishing turning. But, of course, you wouldn’t be so hasty. There’s still a million-and-one typos hiding in there along with some dodgy dialogue and a couple of gaping plot holes. You will probably want to use several methods for editing, but bear in mind that not all of them are free.

Free

These are the methods that everyone should be using. Since they cost you nothing (unless you count the power to run your computer or the wifi charge!) there is no excuse for not getting stuck in.

  • Reading Aloud – You would be surprised at how much easier it is to find mistakes this way, but grab a glass of water. Your throat is going to be sore.
  • Beta Readers – Have a friend who’s going on holiday? Use some free software to convert your draft to e-book and slip it into their kindle for some beach reading.
  • Free Editing Software – There’s plenty of it out there. Check out this great list for some pointers.
Your dog doesn't count as a beta-reader. Think of him as a personal shredder instead. Image by Mark Robinson

Your dog doesn’t count as a beta-reader. Think of him as a personal shredder instead.
Image by Mark Robinson

Cheap

If you’re willing to spend a little money to get it right, consider some of these.

  • Hard Copy – For reasons unknown, it’s easier to spot your mistakes when you read them from a physical print but you will have to shell out on ink and paper. Don’t forget to recycle!
  • Paid Editing Software – Like most things in life, you get what you pay for with software, so the paid versions are likely to be more useful than the free ones.
  • Workshopping – It is possible to find workshops online for free, but it can be hugely useful to meet up with a group of local writers to discuss your work. There may be a small fee to cover organisation costs.
If your manuscript is a 200,000 word epic, printing costs may push it up into the "not-so-cheap" category! Image by Hacklock

If your manuscript is a 200,000 word epic, printing costs may push it up into the “not-so-cheap” category!
Image by Hacklock

Not-So-Cheap

If you have some disposable income to throw at your manuscript then there’s a whole world of resources out there for you. Just make sure you keep enough to one side for food and rent!

  • Manuscript AssessmentCheck out my article on the topic for a full explanation, but this can run you well into the triple figures. In exchange, you can get a detailed review from an established author, agent or publisher in your genre.
  • Writing and Editing Courses – Groups like the Literary Consultancy and the Writers Workshop run tonnes of mini-courses. Or perhaps you’d prefer a full degree? Either way, it will be eye-wateringly expensive so you had better be rich or very certain about your career path before you invest.
  • Writer’s Residency – In the US these can be free but most of those in the UK are paid. This can be a great way to get away from the world and focus on what needs to be done.

So, this bite-sized post has come out not-so-bite-sized this week but I hope you found it useful anyway. Let me know if you think of any additions to my lists!

Advertisements