When I joined the fine editors here at The Blood-Red Pencil, Dani asked me to review editing books. Since then, I've been wading through different books, looking for one I could both recommend and use for my own editing. After many months of disappointing starts, I found one: Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King.
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers
Renni Browne and Dave King
This book has everything I've been looking for: descriptions and examples of non-grammar editing, followed by suggested writing/editing exercises (with sample results). Who could ask for more?
The short introduction describes the changes in the publishing industry and the resulting burden placed on writers to present edited manuscripts to agents and publishers. The authors do not believe self-editing can replace professional editing. In fact, the authors make a point of thanking their editors and suggest that authors are too close to their own work to fully polish it and need the support of experienced editors.
So why self-edit? From my own experiences and conversations with editors and publishers, I can offer two reasons.
1) If your manuscript looks like a first draft, or the work of an amateur, it will be rejected. Agents and publishers do not have time to work with unpolished manuscripts.
2) If you intend to submit your work to a professional editor who charges a fee, you may find that submitting sloppy work will result in either rejection (if the editor feels like her fee will not cover the work needed to get your manuscript up to speed) or an invitation to pay a higher fee to cover the additional work.
In other words, learning about editing, and using that information to improve your writing, increases your chances of success.
Another reason for polishing your work to the best of your ability before submitting for publication is because there is a chance that no other editing efforts will be expended on your work. Do you really want an unedited work going to print with your name on the cover?
I recommend reading Self-Editing for Fiction Writers and using the information to perfect your manuscript.
As I worked through each chapter, I looked for other sources of information on the same topic and worked out a personal editing plan. In the coming weeks, I'll discuss, here at The Blood-Red Pencil, some of what I learned.
Charlotte Phillips is the co-author of the Eva Baum Detective Series, 2009 President for The Final Twist Writers Group and contributor to multiple blogs. Learn more about Charlotte and her books at:
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