Common sense and publishing experts all stress the need for careful editing before submitting for publication. And no matter how experienced you are in doing your own editing and proofreading, there is always room for another eye on your work.
The odd typo or missing punctuation mark pops up even in the best-edited books from famous authors and prestigious publishing firms.
But--and this can be a big but when you're starting out--editors cost a fair amount. If you're only earning minimal royalties per book, you would need to sell 1000 copies at least to afford an editor. Add another few hundred sales to pay for a designer cover. And you may well be working at a loss, considering the average number of copies sold per book is said to be around 500.
So if you need to go the self-editing route, read your work aloud. That helps you hear where words are missing, misspelled, or where the dialogue sounds unnatural. At least use the grammar and spell checker options provided by Word.
Do your best to provide a manuscript that
- a) follows all the guidelines laid down by your prospective publisher and
- b) is as free of errors and as perfect as possible.
I don't think I have ever read a perfect book. Readers are forgiving up to a point but too many misspellings and awkward grammar mistakes get between a reader and the story.
And that leads to bad reviews. Amazon, too, is threatening not to publish poorly presented work. So, enter the robotic editor.
Try Online editorsInterestingly more and more online editors are appearing. And these can do a good job of catching things you missed. Though, like those that tackle translation work, they are certainly not infallible.
Four that I looked at in the past month were EditMinion, from Dr. Wicked--remember his Write or Die? ( A software download that punished dilatory writers with a shocking noise or even by deleting words if ever you stopped writing for too long to think.).
EditMinion is in beta at the moment, meaning it is still looking for bugs to iron out before its official release. But it looks for all the things most editors focus on when reading--too many adverbs, passive verbs, weak words, cliches, obtrusive dialogue tags, word echoes, homonyms and poorly placed prepositions.
I also liked Ginger. It is a great app but may not be for you if you hate seeing your errors highlighted as you go. As well as spellchecking. proofreading, and grammar inspection, this one gives suggestions for rephrasing sentences.
After the Deadline like the others offers a demonstration version on its website. I inserted the introduction to this article and it picked out one example of passive voice--which I dispute--and suggested provide was too complex a word. Its suggestions were "give" or "offer."
Grammarly is perhaps the best known for its browser extension which is well reviewed by many writers. Again it is free , checks against grammar rules, lets you know the reasons for its decisions. See what you think.
Download WarningBe careful with any downloads to your computer or browser. Free software can come bundled with toolbars or allow search systems which do not agree with your computer. Keep reading to check exactly what is being downloaded.
My Avast antivirus and Comodo firewall complained hysterically when I tried to download some of these. Is it worth it? I'd find at least one of them very handy. The choice is yours. Let me know if your computer says no :-)
But at least try out the demonstration pages and see what you think. As good as a real person or not? For me, people are best. But the robots do an excellent back up check on tired days and can suggest interesting changes.
|Anne Duguid Knol|
A local and national journalist in the U.K., Anne Knol is now a fiction editor for award-winning American and Canadian publishers. As a new author, she shares writing tips and insights at Author Support
Her Halloween novella, ShriekWeek is published by The Wild Rose Press as e-book and in print included in the Hauntings in the Garden anthology. (Volume Two)