If you read my post last week on writing a synopsis, you’ll know that author James Crofoot is here at a very timely time for me. (Timely time? I expect an editor would make me change that!)
James is here to tell us why it’s so important to edit your manuscript thoroughly before you submit it for publication. If you can afford the services of a professional editor, it’s well worth the outlay. Here’s James to explain why….
I know the feeling. You’ve worked for months, writing and rewriting. Now you’ve finally finished. You may gaze at the final, perfect, masterpiece in front of you before that final ‘save’, knowing you have polished it to sparkling. After celebrating in some fashion, you send it to a publisher, knowing they’ll immediately sign you to a contract and people will become great, story-buying fans.
When the rejection letters or e-mails come back, you become disheartened. Or maybe angry and confused. Now, if you take the time to go back and look over the piece, you will probably find quite a few mistakes you swear weren’t there before.
Did the mischievous manuscript fairies pay you a visit? Probably not.
In my yet limited experience, I’ve learned a few important things. We see, when polishing the wonderful story, what is supposed to be there. What we intended to put there. Punctuation mistakes, misspellings, and words that have totally different meanings from those we wanted. These mistakes will abound.
And if a publisher sees ten mistakes on the first page, chances are they’ll not even read further.
The reason for this is you skipped one important step…
You didn’t have your work edited.
Not long ago, I read an interesting analogy. You have the perfect resume, flawless in every respect. You’re so confident, you just go to the interview in a t-shirt and jeans. (I know none of you will ever do this, but please read on.) All right now, a man with an impeccable resumes himself comes to the same interview in a shirt with a collar and dress slacks.
Who’s going to get the job?
In short, get your story edited. Don’t send it in in a t-shirt and jeans. If the publisher has to deal with a dozen mistakes on the first page, how are they going to be able to concentrate on your fantastic story? Editors deal with these mistakes all the time, they’ve lots of practice. Now I’m not guaranteeing you’ll get that contract, but I’ll bet you a dollar it’ll get you closer to that coveted document. Trust me; it’ll be worth your time and money to see your contract waiting for your signature.
About the author
James J Crofoot is currently living in Michigan, USA. With two books published, he is now working on his third. You can find his pieces on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as MuseItUp Publishing.
Thanks for coming, James! I’m just in the process of picking over my own manuscript for glaring errors and removing all the extraneous words and phrases, of which there are many. I do love a lovely adverb! Amazing how many I’ve shredded in the first read through – but I’m determined my novel will be going out in its best bib and tucker!
If you have any comments on the editing process, or if there are any words or phrases you find yourself using too often in the first draft, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you!
11 thoughts on “Polish your manuscript until it shines. Author James Crofoot on the importance of editing”
All very true and necessary!
Believe it, It took me sometime to realize this. Probably sent in at least ten pieces before I learned.
One of the benefits of working together is that Anne and I have two sets of eyes looking over everything. Even better for us is the fact that our daughter, Alice, is the best copy editor we have ever met, and isn’t afraid to tell us when we are missing a connection in the plot either. Problem is, she won’t accept payment from us. But we are working on it.
That’s a good tip, to get an extra pair of eyes – and to have your daughter’s eyes as well as your own must be such a help to you! Perhaps you could buy your daughter gifts in lieu of payment. (My daughters are very interested in shoes, and I’m sure would read any number of manuscripts for the price of the right pair :) )
Hey, Helena, and James. Love the picture you’ve led with. That book sits beside my computer. About 6 years ago, when I entered my first contest, besides asking me if I’d taken any courses on GMC (I confess at that time, I didn’t know what the letters stood for!), one of the judges suggested I get two books. One was the one above; the other is Strunk & Wihte’s THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE. It is also nearby.
I’m about to send in my third book to MIU, and I swear, I may have to re-read it, after your post. I don’t want to. I’ve edited it every-which-way-but-Sunday, and I know if I look at it again, I’ll find something else to tweak. I know our editors will find stuff. They always make my books better, but the question becomes: When is it good enough to send in? It’s not ever going to be perfect. (My lawyer husband who is a great editor has finally come to that conclusion himself.) Even print books from the Big 6 have errors in them! I will at least go back over the synop and the query, but it’s time to let the book go.
LOL Clearly, this is an issue that raises a lot of angst for me. Thanks for a great post. I’ll FB and tweet!
Marsha, that book has been a godsend to me! I haven’t read Elements of Style. I’ll check it out. You are so RIGHT about the editing. Oh, how many, many times I’ve been over my ms :( And the synopsis :( :( But a publisher will either like the story or not – no control over that one now. By the end of the week I’ll be submitting. And good luck to you with your latest, Marsha!
Let’s go get’em, Helena!
My manuscripts are reviewed by an editor prior to submission, and just this week she was questioning if it was really necessary. I’ll reference this post, and in particular your perfect analogy.
Best of success!
Good luck to you, too, Loren, with your latest ms. Thanks for your great comment! On Feb 4, 2014 8:28 PM, “Helena Fairfax” wrote:
I have the book too and find it really useful. It is true that no matter how many times I read and re-read my manuscript, I always end up changing something. I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever be ready to send it off! Thank you for a very interesting post.
I suppose our way of checking and re-checking can’t be all wrong, Marie, since we’ve already had books published. I know how you feel about wanting to change things – even the books I’ve had published, I’d like to change when I read them :( I got someone to check my synopsis last week, and that helped. A second pair of eyes is very useful. Good luck with your ms!