Some authors can rip through writing their books in a short amount of time. Others labor long and hard before their books are finally completed. In both scenarios, many authors ask: Can’t I just send it to my copyeditor and be done with it? Do I have to read it again? My answer: Yes, you have to read it again.
I’m tired—Do I have to?
Don’t give up now! I know you are tired of reviewing your own book by now, but you have to keep pressing forward. Now is the time to review it one last time with fresh eyes before turning it over to your copyeditor.
Space to Breathe
After you have completed your manuscript, give it time to breathe before you do a final read. For some, this may be a day or two; for others, you can let it breathe for a week. As long as there is space between completion and final review, the length of time is up to you.
In Your Final Read
The last time you review your manuscript before submission to your editor is not time for nitpicking or making massive changes. Hopefully, you have done this already. This read is to ensure that the manuscript flows well from a reader’s perspective and that there are no major errors that jump out from the page.
Did you refer to your character differently in Chapter 15 than you did in Chapter 8? Have you consistently misspelled a word that you can easily fix with a global Find/Replace? Is there only one space after all punctuation? Did you rename a chapter but not update the table of contents? Is dialogue formatted correctly (with quotation marks AFTER the period)? You want your final manuscript to represent your best work, so make your best effort before it moves forward in the process.
Preparing for the Editing Process
In your final review, you can prepare your manuscript for the editing process. Note that there is no need to add any design elements to your manuscript. Keep it simple and sleek (KISS it) for your editor. The editor is not concerned about what you want the final book to look like. She is only focused on your content at this stage of the process. See below for a few things to keep in mind.
Save a copy of your final file for the editor (always keep your original), and then:
- Double-space the entire manuscript. If you are self-publishing, include your front and back matter in the double-spaced format. (Remember, we are at the editing stage, not design.)
- Set margins to one-inch around.
- Add a sequential page number in the footer of your document (e-mail me if you need help with this).
- Only use a page break command between chapters, NOT between pages. Also: Avoid using multiple hard paragraph returns to break a page.
- Combine all of your chapters (plus front and back matter) into ONE document. Avoid submitting your manuscript piecemeal.
- Set the font for the entire document to Times (12 point for body text). Your headings and subheadings can be larger and bold. (It is best to set them as a style to make creating a table of contents easier. Again, e-mail me if you need help with this.)
- If publishing independently, submit all of your materials together. This includes the cover, front matter, back matter, and, if applicable, press material and reviews that will be included in the book or in marketing. (Again, if one of your eyebrows is raised, e-mail me.)
After you have prepared your manuscript for editing, you can then consider your manuscript complete. You won’t have to read it again until clearing queries with your editor! If you haven’t been through this, and you ask me if you have to, I’m going to tell you, yes, you have to read it again.
PPS Share this post with your writer’s groups and author circles. Everyone will thank you for the information—including their editors.