There is nothing more rewarding to any new writer than to type those two precious words “The End”. It’s also a big lie, because in no way is this the end (unless you have no desire to seek the Nirvana that is being published)
I do. So now, after sweating, crying, giving up then going back, and knowing that you did the very best you could, you have to put that newborn baby aside. Maybe for a few weeks, maybe a few months. Whatever the length of time, you need to put distance between you and the manuscript you’ve been with every day for the last few months.
Why? Because when you go back to it–and you WILL go back to it–it has to be fresh, almost new so you can objectively edit and edit and edit.
First, print it out. You won’t believe how many typo’s, grammar mistakes and just plain confusing text you’ve missed by reading it on the computer.
Second, have someone else read it. Someone who’s not afraid to use a red pen and point out every little erroneous detail. A critiquing partner would be best, but if you don’t have one, a trusted family member or friend will do. I ask my husband. He’s not afraid to tell me straight up what he thinks and the man can pick out a spelling/grammatical error faster than any word processor. (I swear the man proofreads anything from menus to advertisements to posters for yard sales!) The best thing about my husband is, he doesn’t read romances, they’re not his cup of tea. So when he reads my manuscript and says “this is really good!” I know it means something.
If you don’t know anyone who can read it and give you honest feedback, enter a contest and make sure it’s one that encourages the judges to make notes on the manuscript pages. I found this to be invaluable. Even though I didn’t come close to winning, I felt vindicated that at least two of the judges thought I had a good shot at getting published.
Third, be careful not to edit so much that you lose yourself in the process. No, I don’t mean losing your identity–well, maybe I do–the important thing is not to lose your “voice”. Sometimes the most perfectly written books can be stale and two dimensional because the author took her voice of it by editing TOO much.
Now that you’ve finished your book and have gotten to the editing part, DON’T stop learning about the craft. I finished my first book almost ten years ago. I just picked up a pen one day and started to write. I met someone who knew an editor for Harlequin/Silhouette and I sent her my work. I never heard back from her. Not very professional I feel, but looking back on the first manuscript I can almost understand why she didn’t want a paper trail leading to me. The book was awful. I knew so little about writing that I might as well have written NEWBIE in the corner of every manuscript page.
I’ve rambled on enough for my first post. God bless and thanks for reading!