You’re itching to publish your book now that the end is close. However, it’s important to put on the brakes and look at the big picture. Is your unpublished book ready for an editor? Chances are, an editor is more than happy to address changes big and small, but you’ll save yourself time and money in the end if you do preliminary checks on your work.
Before you pass it along to an editor and spend the money for them to make changes, look for these five major fixes you should identify and address before an editor does their part with your book.
Double-Check Characters’ Names
Does John change to Bill halfway through your book? What happened to Molly – her name is now Susan! While you were writing, you may have made some changes to your story that opened up your manuscript draft to include name changes you may not have planned to do. Make sure any time you change a characters name you do a Find and Replace for their name and alter it.
Keeping track of their names will help you out later if you write additional stories or pass on your work for editing. Your editors and proofreaders will be grateful they don’t have to address a simple mistake you might have missed like a changed character’s name in the book!
Take out Unnecessary Phrases
Even if you’re nowhere near ready to edit, if you take out the following phrases immediately, you will likely change your book for the better. The phrases, “Just then” and “With that” are two phrases that add little to no value in your writing. If you’re working in Microsoft Word, CTRL/Command + F to find these phrases in your manuscript, then delete them. You can come back to them in the editing phase to see if they were necessary, but chances are, your writing is better off without them.
Address “I” Phrases (First Person Only)
If your book includes first person, you’ll want to make sure you don’t overwhelm your readers with “I” phrases, such as “I saw,” “I felt,” “I know,” etc. Take any section from your unpublished book and read it out loud. Tally up how many times you use the word “I.” Is it too many times? Does it seem like your character overuses it? If so, it’s time to look at that passage and see how you can take it out or improve it without the use of “I.”
Watch for Homophones
Eye no ewe can reed this sentence bee cuz the words ewe sea include homophones which sound like other words but have different meanings and spellings. Worried homophones are tripping you up? Break out a dictionary to make sure you haven’t made an obvious error, or check out Homophone.com to browse common homophones.
Tweak Passive Voice
No matter what tense you’re working in, it’s possible passive voice may sneak into your writing. Sometimes it’s helpful, but many times, keeping the focus on active voice keeps readers engaged in the story. Past tense is especially vulnerable to passive voice. When you do your last read-through before your editor receives your manuscript, check for sentences laden with “was,” “were,” and “by.” There’s a good chance those sentences could improve with rewrites or from simply removing the phrases.