It is a truth universally acknowledged that if you write stuff, you have to edit stuff. Editors exist and we’re marvellous people and you should all hire us, obviously, but even if you do that, you’re going to have to do a bit work beforehand. Well, I mean, you don’t have to. It’s not like there’s a law or anything. But if you’re going to spill words out onto the page and then send them to an editor without even giving them a cursory glance, chances are you’re going to end up paying someone to fix a lot of things you could quite easily have done yourself. I imagine there are authors out there who do do this, but I suspect they’re far from the norm.
So, self-editing is an important part of the process, whether it’s wrestling your first draft into shape, polishing up your manuscript to attract the attention of an agent or publisher, or even getting it ready for self-publication because you can’t afford an editor. (I would never advise that, by the way. Proper professional editing is a totally different kettle of badgers to searching for mistakes on your own, or even having that grammar-nerd friend of yours look it over. But me saying that doesn’t put the money in your pocket that proper professional editing costs, so I accept that there are always going to be authors who make the choice to go without.)
There is a limit to how much you can really self-edit like a pro – as I’ve just said, editing your own work is very different to editing someone else’s (I know, I’ve done both). But there are definitely tools in the professional editor’s arsenal that can help you with your self-editing, and in my new series of blog posts, I’m going to share a few of them with you. They might not all work for you, because the self-editing process is as personal as the writing process is – everyone has to find their own way of working. But hopefully at least some of them will be useful in helping you to edit (and perhaps write) your work more efficiently and effectively.
Stay tuned for the first instalment!