I am bang, smack in the middle of rewriting (and I mean rewriting) my cosy mystery story. I received some exceedingly valuable feedback from an agent about this piece, and what it needs to reach a marketable point. Scary advice – but once I stopped sulking, and really looked it, I realised that she was right. The suggested changes will make a huge difference to the readability (and saleability) of the piece.
So now I’m in the middle of an anxiety-producing rewrite. I have no idea if I’m going to make the Easter deadline either. Having said that, it cheered me greatly to see a post from a fellow writer on a facebook writers group (of which I am a member). She said that it had taken her 18 months to (a) deal with the feedback, (b) redraft her story, and (c) finish the draft to a submittable level. Good to know that I’m not the only one paralysed by fear at the prospect of a rewrite. So, its onwards and upwards with that one.
And just to make my writers journey more challenging, I’ve finished the rewrite of my new junior grade fiction novel, prepared the pitching materials and synopsis, and am about to embark of the process of submitting it to various publishers. Expect that rejection widget to see some action over the next three months. Hey, you never know, I may actually get an acceptance/show of interest!.
Congratulation! You’re nearly there. Your book has gone through multiple edits, numerous changes, and many an eye has been cast over the text. It’s been sent to the printers (be it through a self-publishing firm or a traditional publisher) and you’ve now been sent a document to review.
What’s a print-proof?
A print-proof shows you what your book is going to look like on the page – it will show you the exact size of the page in fact. This is your last chance to edit, alter and make any corrections before your book goes to print/upload.
So you think that your manuscript is all done!. You’ve edited it more times than you care to think about, you’ve sort and incorporated external feedback into it, and you’ve even prepared a super synopsis, author bio and cover letter to send off to various literary agents and publishers. Let’s just hold on a moment.
I don’t even want to admit how frequently I have been in this position only to go back to the piece of work of few days/weeks/months later to find it full of horrible typos, spelling mistakes and grammatical inconsistencies. I know that it is enormously difficult to get a work word perfect but in order to put your best foot forward I recommend that you (we) take the following steps:
Finish what you hope is the last version of you manuscript. Put it aside for a few weeks (maybe a couple of months if you need a real break from it)
Set out an editing plan. Remember that planning is essential. As the saying goes “If you fail to plan, then plan to fail.” This applies to editing as much as it does to everything else. Check the following for each chapter/section
Is this section necessary or just filler material?
What is the purpose of this section?
How does it contribute to the overall story?
How does it move the story towards the climax point?
What characters feature in this section?
What is their role/purpose in this story?
How does each character contribute to the plate development?
Are they necessary?
How does this section link to the previous section?
Does it flow on evenly from the previous section?
Are there any lumpy bits? (Too long, clunky dialogue, boring sections)
Does it flow into the next section evenly?
Are names/places/events consistently referenced throughout the piece?
Check all spelling, Look for words like hear/here and make sure the correct one is used.
Check all contractions. Are you using them or is the text formal?
Check punctuation (read out aloud).
Look for grammatical errors, half finished phrases, and odd expressions.
Check how the text looks on the page (fonts, headings etc)
Print out a copy of the manuscript. (Really! Working from a hard copy gives you a new perspective.)
Depending on the length of the book, review a couple of the chapters each day. Mark up the changes on the hard copy. Then go back and read the chapter out aloud to check the flow of sentences and punctuation.
When you are done make the corrections on your electronic copy.
Print it out again.
Go through your check list again but this time start at the last chapter/section and work backwards to the start of the novel.
Do a final check of the document. Look for formatting inconsistencies – font, chapter headings, page numbering, table of contents etc.
Do a final change of the electronic document.
If you have time, set the document aside and repeat this process again in a few weeks/months.