Friday, August 15, 2014

An Inside Look at the Working Indie Author: My Editing Process

I thought I would give you a deeper look at my editing process. Now mind you, I am not a grammar queen. I do my best, but it is not my forte. I rely on several software programs and an editor/proofreader. Please bear in mind that no matter what software program you use, it will never outweigh the human touch.

When I do my initial writing it is strictly a rough draft. What I start out with, and what I end with, are often two very different versions. Even though I am following an outline---most of the time---I am still getting my jumbled thoughts down on paper. Once it is all written it is time to fine-tune.

I work chapter by chapter. I complete all steps below before I move on to the next one.

1.  I first do a read through of the entire chapter and correct any blatant dialog I want to change or improve.

2.  The second step is to use good, old Word's spelling & grammar checker. It is not the most intuitive, but it does a good job at getting the glaring mistakes out of the way. I'm old school; those double spaces at the end of a sentence always gets me. Sigh, I guess I am showing my age, which dates back to the typewriter.

3. Now I start going paragraph by paragraph using StyleWriter. I really like this program. I use it a lot. It is not inexpensive, but it is worth the price tag. It starts at $150.00 for the standard version, although you can download a free trial. I use the premium version.

4. Finally, when I am done with that stage, I move on to ProWritingAid. It is a membership, fee-based online service. I love their software, too! It really helps to point out your overuse of words, adverb overload, sentence length, etc. There are several different reports to choose from to target what you are looking to correct.

Keep in mind that programs can only make suggestions. It is up to you to implement them. Some you may opt to utilize, and others you may not. The programs are always pointing out my fragments and saying, "No, no, no!" However, that is how I am purposely writing in certain situations. It is intentional. Therefore, I choose not to take the program's advice. Remember, you are in control!

Once I have gone through all the chapters, I sit down and re-read with a red pen. I once again start making changes. I will continue on this process until I am happy with my manuscript. Then it is important to listen to your manuscript. I don't mean read it. I mean listen to it. Use Word's function to have it play back your manuscript. It is amazing the little things your ear will catch that your eye did not!

Now it is time to turn your project over to a human. This is where my editor/proofreader comes in to play. Her advice is invaluable and it is important to listen to the feedback. However, remember it is still just advice! Ultimate control of your book is in your hand. Find someone who's opinion you value and trust. I trust my editor more than anyone. She is my daughter. She is an English/Communication double major, has a side editing business, is the Honors English Mentor for her college, and works for one of Forbes' Top 10 Companies to Work For as an intern where she regularly creates and edits documents. (Sound like a commercial yet?) Plus. how many writers can say they have the pleasure of working with their adult child? I knew that college tuition was going to pay off!

When it is all said and done, and you feel confident in your manuscript---not that we are ever entirely satisfied---it is then, and only then, you are ready to go to print.

A well written story deserves to go through an editing process that will do it justice. None of our books can be perfect, but they can be the best we have to offer and deserves our best efforts.

So remember, when you are done writing, don't forget the hashtag #amediting!

Wishing you the best and every success,

K. Lamb

Warning:  This post did not go through any software editing programs so I hope you survived! :)

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