By Cheryl C. Malandrinos
As a reviewer, I’ve had the opportunity to read hundreds of books in a variety of genres. While not every book has been my favorite, what leaves me feeling most disappointed is when I think to myself, “This could have been a great book…if only it had been edited more thoroughly.”
I once read a series of children’s books. I enjoyed the message and loved the characters, but the sheer number of typographical errors took away from the reading experience and became distracting.
There was a mystery novel written by a famous author. It was an excellent read, but do you know what I remember most about it? In one chapter, the bad guys had kidnapped the hero and taken his belt. In the following chapter, the hero used the belt—the one he no longer had—as a tool to assist in his escape.
In another book, the main character’s mother’s name changed several times and one of the character’s cars was green early in the book but silver later on.
Now, I’ll admit, I’m not as good at editing my own work as I am at spotting errors in the work of others, but the editing phase of completing a manuscript can’t be rushed. In addition, a critique group, and a third party editor are going to catch errors and inconsistencies you’re going to miss.
After sending a manuscript to my critique group, I review the feedback and make the changes I feel are necessary. Then I let the manuscript sit for at least a week. I go back and perform three rounds of edits: one to pick up typos, one to focus on grammar, and the last to check for inconsistencies. Then it goes back to my critique group.
I didn’t hire a third party editor for my first children’s picture book, Little Shepherd. The publisher and I went through it, and it had been looked over by my critique group numerous times. When I complete Amelia’s Mission, however, which is a middle grade historical, I will definitely send it off to an objective set of eyes to help me polish it before I submit it to a publisher.
I once spoke with a woman who had been in the entertainment industry for decades. She had written a book about her father, an award-winning composer. She had a difficult time finding a publisher. She said that breaking into the publishing world was more of a challenge than catching a break in entertainment.
In such a market, taking the time to edit your book thoroughly will make a huge difference. Proper editing can turn a good book into a great one.
About the author: Cheryl Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. A founding member of Musing Our Children, Ms. Malandrinos is also Editor in Chief of the group’s quarterly newsletter, Pages & Pens.