Developing your own editing and proofing skills

A lot of people in the industry love talking about how you just have to have your books beta read and professionally edited and or proofed. I do agree to a certain extent with most of this, of course.

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There are several problems that can arise from this approach, though, apart from where the he'll do you get beta readers from? Google and social networks, I guess. Anyway

Developing your own editing and proofing skills first then submit

As far as I see it, editing and proofing services can only ever be as good as the book presented to them. By this I mean, if you haven't taken the time (it may be years) to work out what it means to wear different hats while writing, and have developed these to the best of your ability, then you may be seriously at risk of handing over a low quality, overly defective copy.

What are they going to do with it? If you gave them $1000 for the job, they may be reluctant to give it back with the honest re-edit then resubmit line or don't resubmit ever obviously there's a threshold of tolerance in there somewhere, lol!

The point is that, if you haven't developed your hats with a degree of self-awareness based on knowledge and experience, and you're relying on your editor/proofreader, then you're at risk of believing that your work is ready once you just lock in the suggested changes and corrections.

Admittedly, this is a lazy approach and leaves you vulnerable. But people are busy and they need their work out there and released as soon as possible. I get it

The self-editing/proofing checklist

But, before you hand anything up to an editor or proofreader, ask yourself this:

  1. Did I edit and proof it myself to the best of my ability?
  2. Should I edit it one more time just to be sure since I made quite a few changes last time and found quite a few problems, both large and small?
  3. Am I conning myself that it's finished?
  4. Did I read it critically with my editing/proofing hat on, or did I just race through it accepting most of what was there?
  5. Have I developed an editing/proofing hat to the best of my ability and do I have a degree of self-awareness about my own level?

I mean, if you hand a draft up to an editor with a list of qualifications like Its not finished yet, so there are a bunch of things that I may change, you're not exactly helping yourself nor your editor as they'll likely point out many of the problems you plan on changing. I wouldn't expect that it happens that way very often but perhaps only because people lack self-awareness: they may think it's finished when it's clearly only a draft to a professional.

The pass it by the editor intermittently throughout the process approach is sometimes required in traditional publishing, but if you're an independent author, chances are, you can't do it that way. I mean, how much are you going to fork out and how many times?

You need several hats: planning, drafting, redrafting, editing, re-editing, proofing and reproofing.

How many times do you do these things? It evidently depends on your self-imposed schedule, your abilities, your self-awareness and what level of reality you're willing to accept, lol!

Experiment with it

As an experiment, for my first novel, I edited and re-edited and then thought that it would be interesting to see how much more I could improve by re-editing it again. So I did; once I had finished, I found that I had changed quite a bit and was quite surprised in a number of ways because I had thought it was done the last time! So what did I do? I asked myself the question again and re-edited it. This went on for a while, and then I realised I wasnt editing anymore, I was proofing. So I got to the end and thought that it was proofed adequately (this happened a couple of times) and felt good about it so what did I do? I proofed it again and found several things that surprised me, so I thought that it would be interesting just to

You get the picture, right? Theres a line that you may cross into the extremes of craziness here. I may have crossed it once or twice, lol! And you evidently need to be practical and focused.

I honestly don't know how many times I re-edited and re-proofed my first two novels. I eventually sent my first novel to be proofed: she wrote back and said that it was in the cleanest condition she had ever seen! Fair enough. Thats what I thought she would say because I had taken the time (years) to develop my hats and was conscious about what level the novel had reached.

I now start and finish projects faster and more efficiently than ever; I'll still get them proofed and be surprised by what I missed, though. That's inevitible. All I mean is, at some point, you need to have taken the time in order to feel confident about what you hand up and finish with

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Posted in Other Home Post Date 08/09/2018


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