Once you have finished the manuscript, what next?

According to all the YouTube videos I had watched and articles I had read, once your manuscript first draft is finished you are now faced with the prospect of self editing. What I could not get my head around was ‘how the hell can you edit your own work.’ Surely this is like taking an exam and being expected to mark you own paper?

How do you go about self-editing?

You start off with the big issues and work your way down to the minute detail as follows:

  • The overall story- check to see if the plot works, that there are no obvious plot issues.
  • Prose – flow of sentences. Check paragraphs. Maybe some paragraphs are too large, maybe you have an abundance of long sentences. Correct to the best of your ability.
  • Grammar- an obvious one.
  • Spelling and punctuation –again obvious.

How long does all this take?

Almost as long as writing the manuscript but far more stressful. A YouTube post by Polly Courtney pretty much sums up how you feel during the self-editing process. She said ‘when you are sick and tired of reading your manuscript you are getting close to completing the editing process.’ I hated my book. I must have read through 8 or 10 times. I had changed things around; re-written passages; changed paragraphs; shortened sentences; proof read; you name it I had done it. All in all it took me a further 3 months to edit my manuscript.

Is your manuscript finished once you complete the self editing process?

Far from it. This part is only editing the manuscript to the best of your ability. You will have to complete the process all over again. Your manuscript will go back and forth to a professional editor at least another 5 or 6 times, over a period of another 2-3 months, before the editing is complete.

What do you learn from the editing process?

You learn to accept who you are as a writer. Every single writer has his or her own voice, in essence the same as each and everyone of us has their own speaking voice. Everyone is different. I do not speak like Richard Burton, I do not write like John Grisham. I speak as me, I write as me. You learn to accept that and embrace it.

So now you have a self-edited your manuscript, what next?

Now comes the interesting part. Do you send your edited manuscript off to literary agents in the hope that someone will want to publish your work or do you self-publish?

Next – Literary Agent or Self Publish? That is the question.