You’ve Finished Your Manuscript – But Your Book’s Not Ready For Publishing

manuscript editing

Without a heavy dose of manuscript editing, your book isn’t ready for prime time.

Congratulations! You are one of the thousands of writers from around the world who succeeded in the NaNoWriMo challenge.

Determined writers like you endured the arduous National Novel Writing Month in hopes of producing a story that has been begging to get out. As the month draws to close, you are now sitting back looking at 20, 30, maybe 50,000 words that make up your story.

Good job!

Before getting down to the nitty gritty of preparing your book for publishing, here are a few pointers to make sure that your first draft gets the most out of manuscript editing.

Spell Check

Go ahead and do a spell check if you haven’t already.

It is amazing how many words you think you know how to spell that you missed in your 5th grade spelling test. While the spell check program won’t catch everything, it catches a good portion. That makes your read through much easier.

Let your novel rest

You’ve just poured your heart out writing a book. By taking part in NaNoWriMo, you committed yourself fully to this manuscript for the past month. Rereading it right away may not be truly possible just yet, due to your “writer’s goggles.”

It takes time to get a new set of eyes on the first draft of a novel, and the only way to get that new set of editing eyes is to take a step back and give your brain time to disconnect.

Print it out

When you’re finally ready to start making your changes, grab a bottle of water and a new printer cartridge. Go ahead and print the document out. All of it.

Read it out loud

That’s right. The printed version will allow you to “red pen” your own book, and when you read the words out loud, it engages a different part of your brain. This helps you hear what your readers are seeing for the first time, and we all know that first impressions matter when it comes to meeting your characters.

Find your “crutch” words

When you start saying the words out loud, you’ll suddenly find your “crutch” words. You know, the words that you say (or in this case, type) more than you ever knew you did. They act like “ums” or “you knows” or “likes” and they destroy a beautiful paragraph simply because you’ve already said “fabulous” or “‘suddenly” more times than you should have.

Check your verb tenses

You might also notice that you change tenses. You’ll go from talking about your characters as a third person onlooker to suddenly addressing the reader directly. This can be confusing, so it’s important to stay consistent the entire way through.

Realize that friendly help might not be helpful

It’s important to be realistic with what you can do alone. So share your writing for additional input. Having friends and family do a read through and give their feedback is great.

However, be realistic. They probably don’t have years of training as a professional editor. They likely won’t be able to get your title ready for print. And they will never be completely honest with their opinions.

There is significant merit in finding and hiring a professional editor. Not only will they provide you with honest feedback (do you think grandma is really going to tell you she hated a certain part of your book?), but they can also collaborate in making your novel the absolute best it can be.


That’s right. Check it all again after editing. It’s your baby so make sure you do your best to nurture and develop it. Prepare it to meet the world and make you proud.

Congratulations on your novel; you’ve done the hardest part!

The world is ready and waiting to read the beautiful story you’ve spun. Now let’s just polish it up with a good dose of manuscript editing and get it out there for the masses.


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The End


Read More
If You Don’t Pay For Editing, It’s Going To Cost You
Humans Vs. Robots: When (And Why) You Should Use Editing Tools
7 Ways An Algorithm Can Help You Write A Better Novel
Why Do You Need Professional Editing For Your Novel?
What To Expect From Copy Editing



  1. I’m typing a (900+ page) novel for a computer-challenged friend of a friend, and I’m struggling with how severe an edit to make. The author doesn’t really know much about grammar (I have to break the dialog apart because he doesn’t even know “new speaker” = “new paragraph”) and the go-between friend thinks I shouldn’t do any more ( she says to leave it “rustic”). But he fixates on exact times, repeats descriptions, and has his main characters talking like elemetary-schoolers (even though secondary characters talk in regional accents). I don’t think he’ll get anywhere with a traditional publisher, but he’s not computer-savvy enough to work with a POD publisher on his own. And I still haven’t decided what to charge him for my part (I hate to ask too much, because he’s just gotten over a life-threatening illness tht threatened to leave his story unfinished.)

    Which begs the question: Is there any system in place for persons acting as proxy to internet-challenged authors?

    • At the end of the day, the actual edits are the authors to make. If he’s interested in publishing and wants it to be well-received, then he’ll appreciate you putting aside your “friend of friend” hat and being realistic. Edit it as you would anyone else and let him decide how to proceed. As for charging, I more than empathize with your position. That said, I would charge my normal amount and discuss a possible discount after the fact. But it seems like you’d have to put a heavy amount of time into developmental and content edits, and that’s a boatload of work. You should charge accordingly (even if you don’t expect to be paid that amount. He needs to know the work you put in.).

  2. Excellent advice. I do all of that and I also put it through Natural Read (a free demo program you can get) and have it “talked to me” like an audio book. This year I also subscribed to Ginger and Word Pro checking soft ware and I have Language Tool as well. The dictionary and internet are you best tools. When in doubt about hyphenation, etc., google it and see what comes up. Also use more than one dictionary. I’d also visit Merriam-Webster and hear what their Associate Editors have to say about things like “Try To” and “Try And” as well as ending sentences with prepositions. Sometimes you want to do things on purpose to make your characters live a fuller life.

  3. I enjoyed all the articles and benefited from them. In my current endeavor, I have finished my 3rd draft and now need some professional editing. What is the approximate cost to hire a professional editor? How do I locate an editor that will understand my writing? I am a Southern and some of my work reflects the fact. My current “Chap Book–poetry cycle” manuscript uses no Southern dialect. Looking forward to your future posts and in hopes my questions will be answered.


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