So I spent the week since I actually completed my book researching how to go about editing it. It’s more complicated than I thought. The most common advice seems to be to use a professional editor if you can afford it. (I can’t!). One website suggested that manuscripts need trimming by at least a third (so maybe I just delete every third word?), another suggested 4 stages of sending out the manuscript to different groups of readers with revision after each stage. It was all a bit confusing.
In the end I decided to do the following:
1) Do a spelling and grammar check in Word, including checking that place names etc. that I’ve invented have been spelled consistently.
2) Check and change some things I already know about. For example, I knew that I’d changed the name of one of the characters half way through.
3) Print it out, then read through out loud page by page to check for readability and anything else I notice.
4) Try to find someone to read it and get some feedback.
I’ve done the first two and I’m working in the third. I’m finding it slow. It took me about half an hour to read through 3 pages of A4. It really works though. Reading aloud really helps you pick up a clumsy sentence, a repeated word, or somewhere the meaning doesn’t quite come through.
What’s weird is that I expected to hate doing it but I’m actually having fun.
Which is a good job because it’s going to take a while. But that’s ok. My thinking is that having spent two and a half years writing the thing, it’s worth spending some time getting it right!