Editing is the unfortunate downside that every writer has to go through to publish their work, regardless of the content, genre, or publication. For novelists it can be particularly frustrating if an editor from the publishing company notes an overlooked element in the manuscript. Such instances can produce a cascade affect in which the author has to rewrite several chapters or the entire manuscript, then resubmit it to the editor again. This happens more often than authors like to admit; publishing companies hire editors to sort out grammatical errors and content mistakes. Editors can even rule certain chapters or scenes as unnecessary material that the author has to remove before publication.
For these reasons it’s best to have an editor look at drafts of a manuscript as they’re completed, before the author revises the draft.
If I’m a Writer Without a Publishing House or Literary Agent, How Do I find an Editor?
New writers face this dilemma with every manuscript. First find a friend or family member to read the original draft. They should be a fan of your manuscript’s genre, up to date with the genre’s popular material and familiar wording. This person will act as a proofreader
They’ll read the manuscript, noting anything that seems out of place or even identifying grammar errors you made while typing in the middle of the night. Don’t let them alter the manuscript, just give them a printed version to make notes on. When they’re finished sit down and have a conversation with the reader, encouraging them to share their honest opinion of the manuscript. What did they like about it? What did they hate?
Walk away from that conversation knowing that this is only the first step. Your manuscript needs a lot of work before the final submission. Now you’ll start the revising the original manuscript into the second draft (but save your first draft as a copy). Begin with the normal grammatical errors. If your proofreader noted a sentence sounding funny, use apps or websites like Editsaurus to fix it. Don’t know what else to edit? Read 12 Tips for Revising Your Own Manuscript by professional editor Rob Bignell.
Once completed a second draft will need more professional help editing. For new writers without contacts there’s plenty of resources in the literary world to try. For more about this, look at my article “Before Submissions: the Editing Process Part 2.”