How to Edit a Novel: Effectively Editing Your Novel

Self published authors are estimated to control as much as 50% of the total e-book market share by the year 2020 – and there is no better time to self publish your novel than the next year. If you are currently working on a manuscript or have one already completed, now is one of the best times to get started on the editing process for your book or novel.

Editing sounds like a largely complicated process to authors who have never done it before – but editing your own work can be satisfying and rewarding for writers who take the time to learn how to do it well.

Here are some practical tips for how to edit a novel to ensure the best possible end product when it’s time to publish.

Read Through Several Times

The best editors read through manuscripts several times while they’re editing them. If you’re a writer that’s learning how to edit, this is one of the best and most effective editing skills that you can pick up.

Read through your manuscript several times to make sure that it’s perfect.

Work With a Style Sheet

Along with using storyline notes, writers should learn how to make use of style sheets while editing. A style sheet sounds complicated and fancy, but it’s really just a page where you note things – usually grammatical – that are important and should be the same throughout your manuscript.

For example, do you use “ instead of ‘ for any quotes? Note this in your style sheet, and make sure that your style sheet eventually matches up with your manuscript.

It saves you a lot of time, and it’s a trick that professional editors and proofreaders use to make the process as effective as possible.

Take Notes

Always take notes while you’re writing – and always refer back to these notes while you’re editing. Notes are a writer’s best friend, and it can help you to spot inconsistencies (“What year was this character born?” or “What did I call this character or place in chapter four?”).

Without the use of these notes, editing can turn into a process that feels more like tumbling around in the dark without a flashlight – and that’s because you basically are.

Use notes and refer back to them whenever there’s something you want to change or something that works better – and especially when there’s something that you might not be sure about in your own work.

Use Your Word Processor Right

There are plenty of useful word processor tricks that can help make editing easier for you. Use CTRL+ALT+C to insert a comment into a document (which you can refer back to later on for easier reference), use CTRL+C to copy, use CTRL+V to paste and CTRL+X to cut.

Then, you can use CTRL+F to find things in your manuscript – and from there you can access the replace all settings to get rid of any errors in your manuscript that would be hard to catch throughout.

Learn these word processor tricks. It makes editing a lot easier when you don’t have to click around for settings but have everything right at your fingertips.

Need Help?

While rare, there are some writers who just can’t edit their own work no matter how hard they try to – and if this describes you, a lot of the information in this article might give you the direction you need to make the first round of edits, but you might still feel stuck after the third or second run.

If you need help editing, there are many editing services and freelancers out there who can help you out that don’t charge as much as you imagine.

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