You’ve worked very hard and finished revising your novel. Isn’t it amazing how long it takes? I’ve been working on a fairly substantial book, and have logged about forty-eight hours of revisions. That’s more than a work week. It’s not finished yet. Writing it was fun, and revising it sometimes is, but I find it hard to work on such a long document.
After all that, it’s still not over. You could show it to a friend or family member. I suggest picking somebody you know will be honest but constructive. There’s no point in sharing it with somebody who hates that genre. Sharing it with somebody who will only say nice things won’t help the story much, but might help you if you need to ease into sharing your work. If you find somebody who can offer constructive feedback, that’s great. I am not using the word “edit.” I don’t recommend asking family and friends to edit your book. They can read it and offer comments, but they shouldn’t edit. They don’t know the characters the way you do. They can point out punctuation errors or spelling issues, awkward sentences, and problems with the plot, but you should be the one to change them in your manuscript. An exception to this rule is if a relative or friend happens to be a professional Editor. If you are writing with pen and paper, make absolutely sure that you make a copy of it. Your friend’s toddler might mistake your life’s work for a stack of drawing paper. Having a backup copy protects both of you. Imagine how bad the poor kid would feel when they got older and found out they were the cause of you never speaking to your friend again and of your book never being published! Make that backup copy now.
Once you’ve implemented any feedback, now it’s time to send your book to an Editor. That word always gets a capital E because I’ve gone so long not realizing how important Editors are. An Editor is a reader who will do their professional best to understand your book, and also give it some tough love. That’s their calling. The Editor will spend time reading your book and finding the places where it can become clearer, stronger, and ultimately find its place on the shelves. The Editor will not try to rewrite your story. The Editor is going to say something good about your book. They will transition from that to telling you where it can be improved. They know how to do this because they’ve had lots of training and real-world practice. The Editor is on your side. If you’re self-publishing, you’re paying the Editor for their services. That’s a pretty good way to insure that your manuscript will get the attention it deserves. Editors charge per word, so having a long book edited will cost you. It’s worth it. Save up the money, borrow it, or make room in your budget.
Editing is a process, and you’re involved. You usually send a Microsoft Word document, and they use Track Changes so you can see exactly what they’ve done. You can accept or reject changes. They also often add comments and questions where they need you, the author, to rewrite a portion of your work because it is unclear or doesn’t work. They know when they need to ask you to do this. This is why I recommend using an Editor to edit your book. A friend or relative will probably do it for free, but unless they have special training, they simply don’t know how to edit another person’s work. What an Editor does goes out beyond punctuation and spelling. They catch awkward sentences, problems with the plot, but also things that you didn’t include in your book and questions a reader might have. As the author, you are very close to your characters. They live in your head. You know them so well, you sometimes forget to say things “out loud,” and consequently, your readers, unless they’re telepathic, won’t be able to pick up on.
When you get your edited manuscript back, it won’t be chopped up. In most cases, it will be smoother. Yes, your Editor might include a typo. They’re human, and they sometimes hit the wrong keys. If you really don’t like something, tell the Editor in a constructive way. Maybe they misunderstood something. You can rewrite it to make it clearer so that your readers won’t also misunderstand it.
One round of editing likely won’t be enough. Unless your plot and story are very polished, you will probably need a big picture kind of edit, and then some nitty-gritty stuff in a subsequent round. A final check of all systems might also help your book to gain positive reviews later. A proofread can be performed by another Editor. If your book were a person, it would be so happy that you made sure it got the care and feeding it needs to put itself out into the world. Your wallet will be thinner, but your book will have a better chance at success. I have to say “chance,” because there’s no guarantee. Books with many typos are sometimes bestsellers. Wonderful books can and do languish in the dusty basements of obscurity. The tides of popularity are a factor. What sells now may not sell tomorrow. If people don’t know about your book, they also can’t buy it. I recommend talking to a marketing expert who will help you get your book out there, in spite of the uncertainties of fad and fashion.
Give your book both professional editing and assistance from a marketing expert.