15 Steps to Writing a Successful Book. Step 4: Polish your manuscript
“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” ― Terry Pratchett
I created The System of Actions a few years ago. Once I started implementing it, my #self-published book GIRL, TAKEN – A True Story of Abduction, Captivity and Survival became a bestseller. The book was talked about on TV, on pages of magazines, and discussed on radio shows. The book’s sales went up so as the book recognition.
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Today we take a look at step #4:
Polish your #manuscript
Once you are done #writing your #manuscript and see results that you are proud of, it’s time to polish that diamond. Before sending the manuscript to the #editor (if you plan to do so), prepare it. Proofread and edit it.
•Utilize the spellcheck software on your computer
•Proofreading software (e.g. Grammarly) can do a great job
•Read your work out loud
•Do not forget to proofread the title, the cover, the copyright language and everything else, including the table of contents
Some writers suggest #proofreading backwards. They say it’s easier to spot typographical errors if you read your work rearward. I find it helpful if I proofread a printed version of the manuscript. I simply print pages on my home printer. For some reason, it’s easier for me to find errors when I see my writing on paper.
•Edit your manuscript by yourself before sending it to your editor
You don’t have to be a professional editor to edit your own manuscript. But what you definitely have to have at your disposal is a bottomless bucket of patience. It can take a few long weeks or even months to majorly revise and clean up the text. It’s extremely difficult to evaluate your own writing from a critical point of view, find errors and correct them. While editing, try to look at the manuscript from the perspective of two different types of readers: an absolute admirer and an irreconcilable hater. Edit slowly and meticulously. Search for the most overused words and tricky punctuation.
•Use plenty of synonyms
•Cut your sentences down
Try to cut excess wording. The words “the’ and “that” are often overused and can be deleted. Trim wordy and lengthy phrases. Make sure the words you use add meaning to the description. If you can delete words without losing the importance of the statement, remove them.
•Use the Read Aloud function
You can find the Read Aloud function in the Review tab in Microsoft Word. To be able to use it, you will need to save your text in a Word document. Highlight the portion you would like to hear and then click on the Read Aloud function. This will open a mini-player and a computer-generated voice will read you the text.
•Stay away from the manuscript
After the first two rounds of #editing, take some time away from the #manuscript – a couple of weeks usually do the trick. Have you ever had that feeling – after you read your own work from a few years prior – that it does not seem like you actually wrote it? It feels like someone else did, and it even makes you want to change a word or two? With that in mind, stay apart from your manuscript for a few days. It will help spot additional errors and omissions.
For me, the most bitter part of editing is seeing that some paragraphs I wrote and enjoyed previously, no longer belong within the text or have lost all meaning and have to be deleted. If I have to erase parts, I never get rid of the excess material completely. I keep the removed chunks in a separate folder on my computer, just in case I can use it for my future books.
• Get #feedback from your friends
First-time readers can help you find errors and typos. It’s also helpful to get sincere emotional feedback from your close friends and relatives before you hand over your book to an editor.
•Encourage constructive criticism
You can divide your book into chapters and give it to your friends. It would be even better if they’re willing to read the whole book.
•Use beta #readers
Before you self publish find better readers who you trust to give you sincere feedback.
•Print out your manuscript
Once you see your manuscript in a different form – other than digital - it’s easier to uncover problems that you didn’t notice before.
Come back next time to keep learning my System of Actions. I would suggest signing up to receive notifications about new blog posts.
Next blog post: Using Microsoft Word
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