Many beginning writers think that creating a novel ends when they write the last sentence. Well, actually, with the last sentence begins a new era – the era of proofreading and editing. Underestimating this part of a process is a serious mistake that can have unpleasant consequences. Firstly, your book can simply be rejected for publishing as the publisher will see right away whether you checked your work for mistakes or not. Secondly, your readers can notice your mistakes and just stop taking your novel seriously. And thirdly, your reputation can be ruined and you would regret not doing at least basic proofreading vs editing.
The first thing worth mentioning is that you shouldn’t do any editing vs proofreading while you are still writing. When you write a novel, the ideas come to your head and you convert these ideas into letters, words, scenes, chapters, books. You have an inspiration and you write, write, write. You cannot let the moment of inspiration go, because it is a fragile thing that shouldn’t be scared away with editing. Only when you finish a certain part of your novel, you can do some editing and proofreading.
It is understandable that with a spontaneous torrent of words, you will make tons of mistakes, omissions and misprints. Nevertheless, copy editing vs proofreading is a secondary job after the phase of inspiration. Editing is a mechanical work that practically any proofreader or copy editor can do. Inspiration, on the other hand, is something personal and individual. It is a base of your book. Here are some ways you can edit your novel.
Do it yourself
This is what the majority of writers do, especially the starting ones. You can actually do it on your own if you are attentive, persistent and you know what to look for. First of all you need to know the difference between proofreading and editing. The main difference between copyediting and proofreading is in the kinds of mistakes you are looking for. Proofreading is when you are focused on mechanical mistakes: misspelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes, etc. Editing is a more thorough check, when you also look for logical mistakes, incorrectness of the dates, facts, etc. Many writers advise checking your work yourself even if you’ll hire a professional after that. The author is the only one who knows the initial ideas and plans of a novel and can correct some mistakes in the best way possible. Here are some tips for self-editing.
- Never edit your piece right after you finish writing it. Put it away for some time and give yourself some rest.
- Never rush. It should be a slow and thorough process. Better divide your novel in parts and do proofreading vs copyediting one piece at a time.
- If you are not sure about something, don’t guess – check it. There will always be people who know more than you and can see if you made a mistake. Don’t let it happen.
- Notice what mistakes you often make and pay special attention to them.
- Never proofread when you are tired or sleepy, it is the kind of work that requires full attention and concentration.
- Read your text out loud. If you hear your text, you may notice some more mistakes.
Give it to a friend
This option will allow you to have a fresh look at your book, because often we don’t see our own mistakes and need someone to point them out. If you have a big complex novel, giving it to your friend for editing, proofreading and god knows what else can become a real burden for him or her. A great way is to give your manuscript to another starting writer and edit their texts in return. Thus, there is a mutual benefit for both of you.
Hire a professional
This one is for those who have some cash. It is probably the best way to make your novel clean and spotless as professional editors know what they do and know where to look. Surely, it is not for free and you need to have some money for this option. If you do have that money, don’t hesitate to spend them on this service; thus you will be sure that there is no way to find fault with your piece. Some professionals offer proofreading services for small pieces of writing for reduced prices. You can order it, let’s say, for the beginning of your novel and have a great editing example to continue doing it yourself.
So, the conclusion is that you cannot do without editing and proofreading. However, it is in your power to choose who will do this job for you. If you are dedicated enough, you can use all of the options so that there is no way for a mistake to slip in. Or you can choose one or two options – it is totally up to you. However, you cannot skip this step! Make sure your work is nice and edited and you will have more chances to get a successful book.
Alyce is an inspired blogger, private tutor and educational consultant who is passionate about everything related to writing. Now she has found herself as a private consultant/educator, providing seminars and workshops to teachers of English. The focus of her presentations is how to motivate students to enjoy writing and to help them in becoming creative and proficient writers both for their pleasure and coursework assignments. She loves to share her experience in these fields. Stay tuned to get more actionable tips about writing!