The Sunflower Seeds

How to Edit Your Book Manuscript Before Sending it to a Publisher

Writing a book is a labor of love, like an outpouring of emotion. Editing is an exercise in storytelling, it’s a craft. Before sending your manuscript to book publishers in India, internationally or even to a literary agent or literary agency, you need to edit it to make sure it is the best version you’re capable of creating. It is an important part of book development that cannot be skipped if you want your book to make a compelling impression on publishers and, ultimately, readers.

Let us explore the essential steps to edit your book manuscript before presenting it to a publisher.

Step 1: Take a Break

After completing your manuscript, you need to keep away from it for a bit. While you’re in the story you can’t edit it, you can only see the whole picture if you take a step back. Give yourself time to disconnect from the work before diving into the editing process. This time and space allows you to approach the manuscript with fresh eyes, making it easier to spot errors, inconsistencies, and areas for improvement.

Step 2: Read for the Big Picture

Begin with a holistic read-through of your manuscript where you focus on the larger elements, such as plot structure, character arcs, pacing, and overall story coherence. Make notes about any major changes or revisions that are needed to enhance the story’s flow and impact to work on later but don’t make these changes just yet. You can correct the grammar though.

Step 3: Address Plot and Structure

Evaluate the plot’s progression, and ponder if it unfolds logically and maintains reader engagement. Check for plot holes, inconsistencies, and unresolved storylines. Consider the story’s pacing— and think about which plot points need to be given pages and which need mere paragraphs and make note of that.

Step 4: Develop Characters

Review character development. Characters should be well-rounded, with distinct personalities, motivations, and should have arcs where they change- either for the better or worse. Ensure their actions and decisions align with their established traits, and seek opportunities to deepen their complexity.

Step 5: Dialogue and Voice

Examine dialogue for authenticity and relevance. Each character’s voice should be distinct, and conversations should serve to reveal character traits and advance the plot, not be pages of irrelevant exchange. Ensure that dialogue feels natural and moves the story forward. Also make sure the dialogue reads like a novel, not a script.

Step 6: Revise Language and Style

Now, focus on the sentence level. Polish your writing style, paying attention to sentence structure, word choice, and tone. Eliminate unnecessary adverbs, cut repetitive phrases, and replace weak verbs with strong ones.

Step 7: Grammar and Proofreading

Perform a thorough grammar and proofreading pass. Specifically search for typos, grammatical errors, punctuation mistakes, and spelling inconsistencies. Don’t solely rely on spell-checkers and grammar HIs—manual proofreading is essential.

Step 8: Seek Feedback

Enlist beta readers or critique partners to provide feedback on your edited manuscript. They can offer insights into areas you might have missed and provide valuable suggestions for improvement.

Step 9: Multiple Rounds of Revision

Keep in mind that editing is not a one-time affair. Expect to go through multiple rounds of revision. Each pass should focus on a specific aspect—plot, character, language, grammar—ensuring that no element is overlooked.

Step 10: Professional Editing

Consider hiring a professional editor. A fresh set of experienced eyes can identify nuances that you might have missed. Professional editors can offer structural, developmental, and copyediting services, adding a layer of polish to your manuscript.

Step 11: Proofread Once More

After incorporating feedback from beta readers or editors, conduct a final proofreading pass. Even after professional editing, small errors can still sneak through.

You might find editing is a different joy from writing. Some authors find it hard to be critical about their work or change it, while others enjoy working with their own words and making them better to be incredibly rewarding. If you try to keep that attitude, your writing will always grow.

If you wish to query about your book being represented or marketed, do fill out this form.

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If you wish to query about your book being represented or marketed, do fill out this form.