Tips for Cleaning Up Your Manuscript for a Hired Editor

by | Writing | 4 comments

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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.


  • image by OpenClipart-Vectors

    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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  1. Mary Felkins

    Yay for Scrivener! There’s a course taught my Karen Prince with Udemy that walks you through how to use it. Easy and helpful. I’ve referred back to it often. Great article, Zoe.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      I really like Scrivener, Mary, but I need to learn to use more of its features. Thanks for the link. When I have a moment …

  2. Kelly

    Didn’t know about that Scrivener tool. Thanks for the tip!

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      I don’t if any other apps do this, Kelly, but I find it powerful.

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