You did it! You finally finished your manuscript. You can breathe a huge sigh of relief—you’ve gotten over one of the biggest hurdles of the writing process. But where do you go next?
You might want to hire an editor right out of the gates, but if you do that before completing the following tasks, you’re going to cost yourself way more money than necessary. A simple read-through and self-copyedit is all you need to save you hundreds of dollars in the long-run!
1. Fix simple grammatical mistakes: e.g. capitalize the first word of sentences/character names/etc. and eliminate the use of apostrophes to indicate plurality.
These, and so many other basic grammar/mechanics rules, are no-brainers. As an editor, I’m happy to fix the more advanced grammar issues that you may not be aware of, like misplaced punctuation and confused modifiers, but if you mean to say “books” and you say “book’s” or you use the letter “i” without capitalizing it, you should be able to save yourself some money and catch these things yourself.
2. Eliminate the extra space after a period.
Two spaces after a period was important way back when typewriters were used to ensure that sentences didn’t run together—but that’s not an issue anymore! You don’t see it in books or any other publication, and it shouldn’t be in your manuscript.
3. Don’t try to write in a dialect or version of English other than your own.
As Americans, we can kind of get obsessed with U.K. English sometimes—I know. But when I was first learning to write, I read in a book that it’s a terrible idea to try to write in Canadian/British English if you’re accustomed to American English, and vice versa, even if you’re writing for an international publication.
There are likely differences that you aren’t immediately aware of between the two languages, and your editors will see right through you if you only change the word “color/colour” and not all the other word variations. Leave it to your publisher to make these changes for you if they/you wish.
4. Don’t try to write about subjects that you aren’t familiar with or haven’t researched.
My boyfriend is an EMT, and whenever we watch medical sitcoms, he immediately points out things that are actually impossible in real life—and it sort of ruins the show for him.
The same applies to writing. Just because the average person isn’t an expert in the subject doesn’t mean that one or more of your readers won’t be—and they’ll be quick to call you out in the reviews if you have inaccuracies in your copy.
Avoid this issue before publication (and before sending it to an editor) by researching your topics beforehand. That way, you won’t have to spend extra money getting your manuscript re-edited once you fix the inaccuracies. If you aren’t sure how something works or what is and isn’t possible in a certain field, find an expert who can give you the information you need, or let your editor know and he or she can try to do so for you (often for a small fee).
At MAE, I’m happy to fix any of these things for you if you send your manuscript into me before completing them, but it will be a lot cheaper for you if you hash through them first!