So, you’ve finished your novel. Crack open the champagne! Do you know how many people say they’re going to write a novel and yet they never, never do? I don’t, actually, but I bet it’s a damn lot of them ☺ Whereas you, my friend, have actually written and finished a novel. You are amazing!
So now what?
Well, once the champagne hangover has worn off, you now have to think about editing. There are self publishers who only ever edit their own work and publish it any way. That might work for them, but I think it’s a very bad idea. It’s almost impossible to catch every error, every missed word or typo, not to mention the fact that you might have missed an enormous plot hole, or the fact that your lead character’s eye colour changes halfway through the book or (I can put my hand up to this one) you’ve spelt a character’s name at least three different ways. Readers are (hopefully) going to be paying good money for one of your novels. Don’t give them a sloppy, shoddy reading experience.
However,you can and should edit your own work to an extent. Here’s how to do it.
Read the book backwards
This might sound strange but it’s actually quite a good way of spotting errors. The trouble with self editing is that a lot of the time, you read what you expect to read, not what’s actually on the page. Reading a book backwards seems to jolt you out of this complacency.
Print the book out
Spotting errors on paper is a whole lot easier than spotting them on screen. If you have a printer, print out the whole novel and sit down and read it with a red pen at the ready.
Read it on screen but hugely magnified
Increase the font size so it’s really big and errors will be much easier to spot. You could combine this with reading backwards to really pick up the mistakes!
Read the book out loud
Another good way of reading what’s actually there, not what you expect to see. This is also a useful way of tweaking those sentences that don’t quite flow as they should. If it sounds clumsy and laboured when read out loud, it’ll read that way too.
Do all of the above and you’ll have made your manuscript as error-free as you can get it (the next step is to pay for a professional editor but that’s another blog post for another day…)