“What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.” — Samuel Johnson
First, consider these two cautions in using the find and replace feature of your word processor for editing:
Look at each occurrence from the search results to make sure a change works. Automatic replacing can cause problems. For example, consider the paragraph: “He sat next to her. In his grief, he was beside himself.” If you perform a find on next to and replace all with beside, you’ll have: “He sat beside her. In his grief, he was beside himself.”
Replace in moderation. If the change works, do it. Your aim is to reduce repetitions and weak words and phrases, not eradicate certain words.
3 Ways to Use FIND on Your Polished Manuscript
Peruse novels or keep an eye out for well-written phrases. When you find better or more concise phrases, search for a key word that’ll lead you to your ho-hum or wordy phrase and replace the ones that need a change.
If you mention a steering wheel often while characters drive, search on “steering wheel” and try a phrase like the following I found:
Before: He turned the steering wheel and left Main Street…
After: He turned off Main…
Check counts. If you use an individual word (other than expected high-frequency words, such as the, he, a character’s name) in an 80,000-word novel over 200 times you should work on reducing them. Once, I used up 417 times. I cut the occurrences significantly. Check the words mentioned in 3. below. Using some of these over 25 times may be too often.
To obtain a count:
PC = option + f and enter the word
Mac = command + f and enter word
Scrivener (get a count on every word in your manuscript) =
Select desired scenes
Click on Editor screen
Click on Project, Text Statistics, and Word Frequency
Click on desired column to sort
Search for these words or characters.
Your favorite word. In one manuscript, mine was while.
Exclamation marks. Use these for shouting in dialogue and thoughts. Your choice of words should show excitement.
Weasel words such as just, very, and some. Here’s an excellent post on words, phrases, and characters to search for: Editing Your Own Writing on Darcy Andries’s website. This is a must read. It covers:
Unnecessary and Redundant Words
Dull Drab Diluters
Before sending your manuscript to a publisher, use FIND and search for these. Click to tweet.
What is the word, phrase, or character you have grossly overused in your manuscript?
“There’s never been a text written that didn’t need editing.” —David Kudler
You’ve finished your manuscript. Wonderful. It needs to be edited. Below are four kinds of edits and what each most commonly accomplishes.
Ask prospective editors what they include in their edits. Some will combine editing types. Others will perform edits beyond their type when they see problems. Editors love books and want to help authors produce the best novel.
Developmental editors work with the author. They address high-level structural issues. They may address:
Plot, plot holes, subplots, and scope of story
Characterization, character arc, character believability, point of view problems
Voice, tone, style, and tension
Pacing, amount of backstory, and sagging middles
Lack of conflict, too much telling, information dumps, areas of confusion, inconsistencies,
Scene goals and whether a particular scene is necessary
Line editors are concerned with readability, clarity, fluidity, writing style, and language use. They review the manuscript line by line and paragraph by paragraph. While preserving the author’s voice, they point out problems or make changes (through a “track changes” feature). They may:
Reorder, delete, add, or rewrite sentences, paragraphs, scenes, and chapters
Improve paragraph and sentence flow, smooth out awkward or wordy sentences, and change run-on sentences
Improve word choices, catch clichés and generalizations, enhance weak transitions, adjust pacing, and eliminate repetition
Tighten sentences, paragraphs, and dialogue
Point out inconsistent character behavior, confusing actions, passive voice, over-used words, too flowery writing, overuse of adverbs, and shifts in tone
Ensure language fits the author’s audience and dialogue is believable and consistent
Copy editors perform technical work on manuscripts that are close to their final form. They make sure the details are correct. They’re concerned that the writing conforms to a style, such as the Chicago Manual of Style. They may do the following:
Correct errors in spelling, syntax, punctuation, and grammar
Ensure consistency in style throughout manuscript, e.g. in numerals, spelling (OK or okay), and capitalization
Point out nonfactual assertions, inconsistencies in character traits, and implausible statements
Look for possible problems with the use of brand names
Ensure proper manuscript format
Proofreaders make the last technical check of the novel. This is where the galley proof or electronic copy come in. Proofreaders may do the following:
Search for typos
Look for mistakes in spelling, punctuation, spacing, pagination, capitalization, use of numerals, and verb tense
Ensure earlier changes were made correctly
The order in which edits should be performed:
Developmental Edit ⇒ Line Edit ⇒ Copy Edit ⇒ Proofreading
Often, authors themselves, critique partners, and beta readers can perform Copy and Proofreading tasks. Critique partners and beta readers may also help with some Line editing.
So, authors with limited funds may need to put their money first into Developmental editing and then into Line editing.
Novelists need editing. Here are lists of tasks each type of edit performs. Click to tweet.
Please welcome my guest, Marion Ueckermann, experienced in the ins and outs of box sets and one of the authors in the successful book set, SPLASH!. Be sure to learn more about SPLASH! and Marion’s novella, Orphaned Hearts, at the end of her post.
Box sets are a win/win for all:
Increased visibility — authors gain access to each other’s readers and social media circles.
Amazon’s bestseller lists — they rank well here, thereby ensuring continued reach (all contributing authors of SPLASH! are now ranking on Amazon’s Top 100 Authors in Religion & Spirituality, and have even all been in the top 40).
Readers get several books for next-to-nothing.
Authors make money — even with splitting the 35% royalty per copy sold, because enough readers take a chance.
Workload is shared.
Authors make great new friendships with each other, and new readers.
So how do you pull off publishing a great box set? First, there are important decisions to be made:
Prior to commencement
Brand-new titles or previously published titles?
How many titles in the set?
Pricing? (Your goals for the box set will determine your price.)
Distribution—Amazon exclusive (Kindle Direct Publishing Select program), or other retailers, too?
Release of individual titles (if never before published titles)?
Submission of ready-to-publish manuscripts?
Submission of individual covers?
Choice of box set title and artwork
Cover art costs
Up-front payment or deductions from earnings?
Distribution of earnings to authors—an outside party to handle for a fee, or someone in the group?
When to unpublish?
Then there’s the matter of front and back matter (and other matter). Each member needs the following information included in their submitted title (manuscript prepared for uploading):
Book description (long blurb)
Links to other published books
ISBN information (if previously published)
They will also require a short blurb for marketing purposes.
Here are a few pointers to what a successful box set needs:
1. Great Leader: Someone must lead the pack. For me, this is the No. 1 priority—having a leader who is:
• Preferably experienced in indie box sets.
• Has a mentor mindset.
SPLASH! is blessed with a knowledgeable and organized leader who has guided the authors through the planning, publishing and marketing waters, providing relevant information to ensure deadlines were met.
2. Great Authors:
Choose authors whose writing you, or other authors in the set, know.
Choose authors who write in the same genre as the set.
Great authors bring five star reviews.
3. Great Discipline:
Dedication to the project.
Disciplined to meet deadlines.
Committed to participate.
4.Great Teamwork in:
Checking the final box set file, ensuring links work and scanning for minor errors or formatting issues to finalize the manuscript prior to Amazon pre-order deadline.
Marketing the box set in social media circles through blog posts, tweets, Facebook postings, obtaining reviewers, etc.
Encouraging one another.
5. Great Communication:
You’ll need a place to interact—create a closed Facebook group.
Keep conversations to relevant threads.
Save all documents and artwork to the Facebook group folders—deadline checklists, submission guidelines, covers, memes, etc.
6. Great Title:
A theme makes it easier to decide on a title.
Ensure your title’s a good fit, will hook readers and offer great marketing possibilities.
The title will direct cover art choice.
7. Great Cover Art:
Hire a professional cover artist—it doesn’t need to cost a fortune and will be worth the money spent.
Group members to give input and agree on:
(Cover art for individual novellas are the authors’ responsibility)
Don’t finalize the box set’s cover art until the final manuscript submission deadline has passed—life happens…authors drop out.
8. Great Marketing:
Release at an appropriate time—SPLASH! is a collection of water-themed summer reads, so released the beginning of summer.
Place advertising timeously—SPLASH! avoided advertising running into autumn.
Create fun memes for the box set, as well as individual novellas, and use extensively in social media to create awareness.
Have a fun Facebook party on release day.
Interested in writing for box sets? Here’s what you need to know—inside and out.Click to tweet.
WARNING: Box sets are FUN and highly addictive!
I was privileged to be part of a box set collection, SPLASH!, which released June 23rd . With the following Amazon.com rankings, I can say this set has been very successful:
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Religious & Inspirational Fiction > Christian > Collections & Anthologies
#1 in Books > Christian Books & Bibles > Literature & Fiction > Collections & Anthologies
#2 in Books > Christian Books & Bibles > Literature & Fiction > Romance > Contemporary
We’ve seen similar top rankings for SPLASH! with Amazon UK, Australia and Canada.
Will his past, or her future, keep their hearts orphaned?
When his wife dies in childbirth, Zambian conservationist Simon Hartley pours his life into raising his daughter and his orphan elephants. He has no time, or desire, to fall in love again. Or so he thinks.
Wanting to escape English society and postpone an arranged marriage, Lady Abigail Chadwick heads to Africa for a year to teach the children of the Good Shepherd Orphanage. Upon her arrival she is left stranded at Livingstone airport…until a reluctant Simon comes to her rescue.
Now only fears born of his loss, and secrets of the life she’s tried to leave behind, can stonewall their romance, budding in the heart of Africa.
Marion Ueckermann’s passion for writing was sparked in 2001 when she moved to Ireland with her husband and two sons. Since then she has published devotional articles and stories in Winners, The One Year Devotional of Joy and Laughter, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven.
Marion loves writing Contemporary Inspirational Romances set in novel places and has three Passport to Romance novellas published and contracted through White Rose Publishing, a Pelican Book Group imprint: her debut novella, Helsinki Sunrise; Oslo Overtures (August 2015); and Glasgow Grace (2016).
She lives in Pretoria East, South Africa in an empty nest with her husband and their crazy black Scottie, Wally.