As a kid, I never understood why my mom would always insist that my sister and I straighten up our rooms and help clean the house BEFORE the housekeeper came.
Now, as an adult, I totally get it.
The same concept applies to writers who are serious about their manuscript. You should never send the first draft of your manuscript to an editor, its like having the cleaning lady come over right after you’ve thrown a rave in your living room! I’m going to repeat that, just in case you didn’t read it correctly – YOU SHOULD NEVER SEND THE FIRST DRAFT OF YOUR MANUSCRIPT TO AN EDITOR!!!
Always clean up your house ‘your manuscript’ before sending it off to the cleaner ‘the editor’.
Now, I’m not saying that finishing your manuscript isn’t a great accomplishment – IT IS! I’m just saying that maybe that first draft isn’t fine-tuned enough to submit. So, have a glass of wine, throw a party, celebrate finishing your manuscript… then after you’ve taken a moment to pat yourself on the back, begin the next step to prepare your manuscript for submission: rewrites and author edits!
TOOLS YOU’LL NEED:
- Microsoft Word Spell Check: OK, this one is pretty obvious and you should have been using it all along, but many people disregard spell check as an imperfect tool. The truth is, it is an imperfect tool – all of them are – but it will catch some things that even you or your beta readers might not catch.
- Microsoft Word Grammar Check: Much like spell check, people tend to skip over the grammar check function of Microsoft Word. WHY? Sure, it isn’t always right, but if you are diligent about reading each suggestion and doing your research you are bound to fix more issues than if you skip this step completely.
- Grammarly: OK, I LOVE Grammarly!!! It is awesome when it comes to line editing. It also goes beyond the basic spell check and grammar check to help find words that have been spelt correctly, but used incorrectly. You can use it to run reports to find things such as when you’re overusing words – MY FAVORITE FEATURE!!!
- After the Deadline: This software using artificial intelligence to check for spelling errors, common writing errors, misused words, passive or complex phrasing, clichés, and redundant phrases. PLUS – and this is a huge bonus – it will make suggestions for words that fit better and flow more smoothly with your writing style.
- EditMinion: A FREE electronic copy editor. You can use it to get a comprehensive overview of your writing: grammar errors, words you are using excessively, your average sentence length, passive phrases, clichés, weak words, etc.
- Slick Write: A fast – FREE – online grammar checker. This program will edit your content for adverbs, passive voice, and even awkward phrasing.
- Natural Reader: This FREE text to speech program allows you to listen to your manuscript. It will help you identify phrases that sound clunky, overused words, run-on sentences, words that just don’t make sense, and other mistakes you may have missed by reading the manuscript yourself.
OTHER IMPORTANT TOOLS:
- Beta Readers – These are your family and friends who are willing to read your manuscript and give you HONEST FEEDBACK!!! Makes sure they know it is ok to hurt your feelings. Trust me, the more feedback you can get on your manuscript before you send it to a professional editor, the better. Your editor is not going to go easy on you, so prepare yourself by making your manuscript as good as you can possibly get it before submission!
Having awesome beta readers and a wonderful electronic editor that you love is a great way to start your editing process, but it doesn’t end there. Beta readers and electronic editors can NEVER replace a professional editor. These tools can – and should – help you spot basic grammar errors, redundancy, adverbs, and other technical elements, but keep in mind that they are only a first step to editing your manuscript. Think of these tools as the self-editing process that every manuscript must go through BEFORE – not instead of – sending your manuscript off to a professional editor.
There are a number of other editing softwares available… I’d love to know which ones you use and why! Comment below and share your thoughts on those I’ve listed above and others you’ve tried.