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20 Simple Book Editing Tips for Powerful Writing

Editing can be a real trip to the dentist chair for a number of writers. They simply have a hard time going through the process, and often wonder if it is really worthwhile. It most certainly is! The writer has to be resigned to see to it that any book written is thoroughly edited for clarity and precision.

The Necessity of Editing Book Material

The rejection rate for book manuscripts, borders on the insane. Nine out of 10 manuscripts will probably be rejected for one reason or another. Poor copy is a guaranteed failure. Publishers do not want to see work that looks amateurish. Poor use of phrases, grammatical errors, and formatting difficulties are all things that will cause a manuscript to be trashed. No writer was to have that happen, and there are some tips of the editing business a writer can use to develop a better looking copy.

Book Editing Tips

  1. Stay in One Voice. You have to make a decision to use first or second person throughout the manuscript. Going back and forth only creates confusion.
  2. Only Use Necessary Punctuation. It doesn’t do any good to have a surplus of unnecessary semi-colons or commas.
  3. Keep the Language Simple. Stuffy and verbose words may sound intellectual, but they’re actually very boring. Keep the language simple and be sure the dialogue is easy to understand.
  4. Resist the use of passive voice. Writing is made a lot clearer that way.
  5. End the Preposition Madness. People can create excessively long sentences with the use of prepositional phrases. Whenever possible, use one or two words instead.
  6. Don’t Be Redundant. There is no reason to use two words (e.g. “exact the same”) when one will do just fine.
  7. Put Some Muscle In Your Verbs. Take a look at the verbs of a sentence and see if ones that are stronger and clearer would fit better.
  8. Be Sure That the Bullet Points Correspond. They need to be consistent whenever a series of points are being made.
  9. Be Sure That the Fonts Are the Same Size. Chapter headings need to have the same font size throughout the book. The same is true for any topics or subtopics.
  10. Double Check the Footnotes. This is very serious. If your footnotes are wrong or if you forget to include footnotes, you risk accusations of plagiarism that you do not want to have.
  11. Try Using Contractions. These add to the flow of the sentence, making what could be a stiff phrase sound more personable.
  12. Watch The Margins. The margins need to be consistent on every page.
  13. Be Careful of Commas. Try not to use too many of these in a given paragraph.
  14. Use the Same Font Type Throughout the Manuscript. Times New Roman and Courier are two of the most common font types used.
  15. Do Not Hesitate to Delete Sentences. For the sake of the copy you may have to cut some of the sentences or paragraphs in the book. If it makes the text clear then it is certainly worthwhile.
  16. Do Not Overuse Adverbs. These can become a crutch and your manuscript should not depend on them. “Rapidly” can easily be dropped and “moving at a fast pace” is a nice substitute.
  17. Try Substituting Positive for Negative. Instead of saying “you won’t be able” consider using “you will find it difficult”. This adds a better flow to the sentences.
  18. Set a Word Limit. If you are not careful you’ll end up writing volumes instead of just one book. Most fiction is written somewhere between 60,000 to 100,000 words.
  19. Use Slang Only When Necessary. The reader has to understand what you are saying. Do not use slang or colloquialisms they may not understand.
  20. Don’t Change the Plot Unless It Is Necessary. A number of writers will get carried away with ideas and try to weave them into the narrative of the story. If you have a plot then stay with it. Only make changes if it makes sense within the story itself. If you do make plot changes don’t leave any ideas dangling.

Stay Committed When Book Editing

Finish what you started is a good overall rule to editing. This can at times be a tedious job, but it is a necessary one. If in the editing process, you discover revisions are necessary, don’t get upset. Writers have to revise all the time. It is just part of the work. A good editing job is going to help get your manuscript the publisher approval you are seeking.