Tips for Cleaning Up Your Manuscript for a Hired Editor

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I’m not talking about formatting. I’m talking about making your manuscript a pleasure for your editor to work on. There’s benefits for you too.

Benefits of Clean-as-Possible Manuscripts

  • Cleaning up grammar and smaller problems, allows your editor to concentrate on structure and story problems. Of course, this depends on the type of edit you purchase: Developmental, line, copy, proofreading or a combination.


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    Your editor will spend less time on your manuscript. If she charges by the hour, that’s less editing costs for you. If she charges by word count, your tight manuscript will reduce editing costs. If she charges a flat fee based on a writing sample, a clean sample that represents your manuscript may reduce the fee.


  • If you learn from her past edits, she might be more likely to put you on her schedule again. As a critique partner to six members in a group, I wanted to help make other writer’s manuscripts shine, not plow through the same problems and mistakes over and over.

Tips to Clean Up Your Manuscript

  • Be aware of the problems and errors an editor (or critique partners) marked on your last manuscript. As you write and edit your current story, look for those problems. For example, my editor marked a lot of sentences as awkward on a past manuscript. I carried that warning in my back pocket as I wrote my next story. I may still have awkward sentences but a lot less.


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    Reduce using words whose meanings aren’t the right word for sentences. If you’re the least unsure of the meaning of a word you used, look it up. Use your editor’s dictionary version if possible.



  • Reduce overused words. Writers tend to overuse certain words in their manuscripts. Often they repeat different words for different manuscripts. For example, for one story while was my overused word. For another, nice was a favorite. If you use Scrivener, it has an easy-to-use tool to list every word in a manuscript and its frequency. Use such a tool or Find to manage overused words.


  • Read through your manuscript and then read it aloud or let your electronic reader read it to you. I do this scene by scene, catching typos, poor sentence-length patterns, and other problems. If you have Beta readers who’ll read the manuscript also, all the better.

Tips and reasons to clean up your manuscript for a hired editor. Click to tweet.

What other tasks do you recommend to clean up a manuscript for a hired editor?

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Suddenly unemployed, Allie Masterson returns home to Cary, North Carolina where she caddies for her father on the PGA Seniors Tour. There, she encounters a man who possesses an alluring gift of reading the contours of the green. Fascinated with his uncanny ability, Allie is excited to meet the Green Whisperer—until she discovers that the easygoing caddy is actually Shoo Leonard, the boy who teased her relentlessly when they were kids. Despite Allie’s reservations, when Shoo is faced with having to overcome a hand injury, she agrees to use her sport science degree to become his trainer…and then she falls for him.

 Shoo Leonard is grateful to Allie for her singular determination to get him ready for the PGA tour, but he isn’t ready for anything more. Still raw from a broken engagement and focused on his career, he’s content to be her fist-bumping buddy…but then he falls for her.

What seems like a happily-ever-after on the horizon takes a turn when Allie decides she’s become a distraction to Shoo’s career. Is it time for her to step away or can The Putting Green Whisperer find the right words to make her stay?

When Do Writers Believe They’ve Arrived as Authors?

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Many writers think they’re bona fide authors when they’ve published a book. Today, anyone can publish books through CreateSpace, or the like. Others think accumulating thousands of fans shows they’ve arrived. But what about authors who have smaller followings of loyal fans? For me, I think what makes an author is what makes an accountant, a teacher, a hairdresser, or a pastor.

Here are personal examples of what I mean.


A young man in the school where I taught accepted a teaching position because he needed a job. He didn’t prepare lessons, which put him on probation, and he complained about the students. At the day’s closing bell, he left faster than his pupils, taking home nothing. He taught, but he wasn’t a teacher.

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After gaining a BA in math, I taught junior high science and math for three years. I didn’t have a degree in education, but I spent hours preparing lessons, searching for creative ways to get math across to my students. When at first I wasn’t reaching students on a person-to-person level, I consulted the department head and learned what students needed and wanted. I applied what I learned and connected with my pupils.

I didn’t want to pursue teaching as a career, but it was important to me that those children left my class prepared for next year’s classes. I think I was a teacher. Now I enjoy teaching in Bible studies and workshops for writers.


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I wrote five completed manuscripts before I received a contract. On the first, I gained an agent, but the book was rejected for “not standout writing.” I studied books on the craft, attended writing conferences and workshops, joined critique groups, and entered contests for the feedback. For the second through fourth manuscripts, the rejections got better, inviting me to submit other stories. A publisher contracted my fifth. For my sixth manuscript, my publisher thought it was a good story, but the protagonist was unlikeable and too much about her sport was distracting. I reworked it four times before I received a contract.

For my seventh book, I tried some techniques I thought readers would enjoy. A different publisher contracted the book quickly.


Then last year, I was invited to be part of a Valentine’s Day e-book collection with four other authors. I’d have no editor to help make my book shine. So, I hired an editor. I may never recover the cost, but I couldn’t publish something substandard.

That’s when I realized I’d arrived as an author.

Although the collection earned #1 bestseller ribbon in two categories on Amazon, which was wonderful for me and the other authors, I discovered striving for excellence for readers is what makes me feel like I’ve arrived as an author.

This means I’ll continue to learn my craft, subject my stories to criticism, and work to promote my books so readers in my audience can find them.

Is a published book or lots of fans what makes a writer feel like they’ve arrived as an author, or is it something more? Click to tweet.

What has or will make you think you have arrived as an author?

COOKING UP KISSES – has earned an Amazon #1 bestseller ribbon in two categories!

Five scrumptious e-book romance novellas, all for $0.99 or free on KindleUnlimited. Here’s the link.  Here are the blurbs:





Candace Parks lives a passionless life in Richmond. The computer programmer returns to the empty family home in the Blue Ridge Mountains solely to evaluate her job, faith, and boyfriend. Her high school crush, Trigg Alderman, who barely remembers her, visits his Gram next door. Sorting her life out? How about nothing of the sort!



Alana Mulvaney’s life is in a holding pattern. Consumed by day-to-day operations of the family business, Alana has no time for fun or romance. But a little fun and a whole lot of romance is just what Alana’s sisters have in mind when they learn childhood friend Donovan O’Reilly has returned to town.
Donovan O’Reilly has loved Alana Mulvaney since he moved in next door to her at the age of five. But he broke her heart when he was forced to leave town, and now that he’s returned home to Winding Ridge he has a second chance to prove himself. But is it too late to earn her trust…and her love…again?


Toni Littlebird believes that when she meets the man God created for her, she’ll know—and she’ll love him in that very moment.
But then Dax Hendrick roars into Hummingbird Hollow on a noisy, crippled Harley, stinking up the air and chasing away her beloved hummingbirds. One look into the intruder’s eyes and her heart sinks. He’s “The One.” She’d been right about knowing, but wrong about something far more important: She will never love this man!


Cara Peyton is content with her life, her trendy Baltimore bookshop is perfect for her. But when her ex turns up to remodel the store, asking for a second chance, she’s torn and unsure about risking her heart again. Can he convince her to trust him, and God, before the job is finished?




Another Valentine’s Day and Quinn Randolph prefers to spend it with her sweet rescue lab. Who needs men and their broken promises? Especially Pierce Karson’s! Years ago, his desertion shattered her. Now he’s trying to steal the property she targeted to expand her florist shop! Pierce only wants to belong…and for Quinn to choose him. His Valentine Promise…

Redundancy: An Excessive, Oppressive, Pervasive Disease

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My guest today is editor and author, Denise Loock. Denise shares with us one of her Boot Camp posts on redundancies. At the end of her post, you’ll find more information about her editing services and devotional books.


“Never, ever use repetitive redundancies.” That’s #47 in William Safire’s entertaining and enlightening book, Fumblerules. The principle is simple, but its mastery elusive, even for seasoned writers and editors.

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Too often we’re unaware of the redundancies that lurk undetected in our sentences. Did you catch the needless repetition in the previous sentence? Using unaware and undetected with lurk is redundant. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, lurk means “to lie in ambush, to be hidden but capable of being discovered.” I should have written this: redundancies lurk in our sentences. Use precise verbs.

A devotion in the December 2014 edition of a daily devotional magazine was titled “Free Gift.” Again, Merriam-Webster exposes the redundancy. By definition, a gift is “transferred … without compensation.” If it isn’t, the writer should use reward, bribe or exchange. Use precise nouns.

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In a book written by a well-known author, I came across “unsuspected surprises.” By definition, a surprise is “something unexpected or astonishing.” The fraternal twin of unsuspected surprises is unexpected surprises. Avoid both. And use a dictionary.

Sir Ernest Gowers provides some helpful advice in The Complete Plain Words. And no, helpful advice isn’t redundant. Haven’t we all received plenty of unhelpful advice? Back to Gowers:

“Cultivate the habit of reserving adjectives and adverbs to make your meaning more precise, and suspect those that you find yourself using to make it more emphatic. Use adjectives to denote kind rather than degree … economic crisis or a military disaster … [not] acute crisis or a terrible disaster.”

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Recently, I almost used actual proof in a Facebook post. See what I mean? Redundancy is a virus that can threaten the health of any sentence. (Check the definition of virus, and you’ll realize that adding an adjective like destructive or pernicious would be redundant.)

Here’s your assignment this week: Examine a page of your work in progress, sentence by sentence. Probe every noun and verb, checking for preciseness. Interrogate every modifier: what value does it add to the sentence? Scrutinize every word under the light of its dictionary definition.

Search for redundancies like these:

Basic necessities

Filled up

Up above


Close proximity

Gave away

Future plans

Reflect back

And while you’re editing, reduce phrases like these to one word:

Made a decision

Faced a need

Have the opportunity to see

Is in need of

Look forward to the future

Rid your writing of redundancies. Click to Tweet.

What is your favorite example of a redundancy? 

Denise Loock is an editor, writer, and speaker. As a book editor, she uses her twenty-nine years of experience as an English teacher to help Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas produce high quality, engaging inspirational fiction and nonfiction books. As a freelance editor, she helps published and unpublished writers create clean, concise, and compelling manuscripts that will attract publishers and intrigue readers.


Denise also shares with others the joy of studying God’s Word through the website she founded, She is the author of two devotional books that highlight the scriptural truths of classic hymns and gospel songs, Open Your Hymnal and Open Your Hymnal Again. Contact her at