5 Common Editing Mistakes Writers Make When Preparing a Manuscript for an Editor

5 Common Editing Mistakes Writers Make When Preparing a Manuscript for an Editor

If you’re ready to send your latest work-in-progress to a professional editor, congratulations! You’re bound to be excited because you know that before long, you’ll be able to publish your novel and get it into readers’ eager hands. Maybe this is your first novel and you’re dying to see your name in print. Or this is your seventh, but it’s a project you’re feeling particularly excited about.

Whatever the case may be, you’ll want to make sure you’re avoiding these five common editing mistakes when preparing your manuscript for a professional editor.

1. Not Allowing Enough Editing Time

Writers come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, metaphorically speaking. Some writers edit their manuscripts for years until they feel they’ve edited them to perfection. Others just want their work in readers’ hands, and as a result, the story itself often needs significant adjustments.

But here’s a secret tip: the best way to take advantage of an editor’s skills is to provide a polished manuscript.

If you’ve taken the time to learn the writing craft and to practice the new skills you’ve learned, the writing itself is going to be better. Instead of focusing on word count and meeting goals, with improved writing skills, you’ll start to reconsider word choice and word flow as you write. Your primary goal will become writing well rather than meeting a word count goal.

As much as I love hitting word count goals, if the words aren’t coming out right, I don’t force it. At that point, I’ll go back through what I’ve already written and see where I can add to increase the tension or conflict in the scene. I often find that I flesh out scenes more in a brief revision.

2. Not Allowing Enough Resting Time

Another common mistake I see is that some writers are quick to produce work, but they’re not keen on giving it time to rest. We need that time to let our stories sit so when we go back to them, we can see them with clearer eyes. We’re more willing and open to see the mistakes in our work.

Oh, I get it. You’re a perfectionist and there’s no possible way your story could improve. Unfortunately, that’s probably not true. Most writers aren’t gifted with the ability to write perfect first drafts. Which means we need to allow time for the complete stories to process in our subconscious mind for a while.

3. Wasting Time On Manuscript Formatting

While it’s acceptable to provide a clean manuscript to a freelance editor, it’s not necessary at this point to devote a lot of time to perfecting the manuscript formatting. Unless you’re hiring an editor to polish and format your completed and revised manuscript, or you want the editor to point out any layout issues before you submit your file to Amazon or IngramSpark, spending too much time on the format will likely be a waste of your valuable time because you’ll be making so many edits to polish your manuscript and make it even better.

So, unless it’s necessary, save yourself the headache and do the final formatting and layout once your final revision is complete.

4. Wanting to Rush Through the Process

We all want to publish our work as soon as possible so we can get it into readers’ hands. But rushing through the process can be a recipe for disaster.

Finding the right editor for your book can be a challenge. With so many to choose from, how do you know which one is right for you? How do you make sure you’re not getting swindled or that you’re getting an editor who is compatible with your work and your goals?

It takes time to find an editor who is a good fit. And you shouldn’t automatically choose the first editor you come across. Do your research. Check prices. Ask questions. Follow the editor on social media and the blog. Is this person someone you feel comfortable with? If you get bad vibes, find someone else. Starting a business relationship based on distrust will likely frustrate both of you. So, choose the editor who is right for you.

5. Inquiring with a Page Count

When you find an editor you feel comfortable with and you’re about to send her an inquiry, instead of stating that your manuscript is a particular number of pages, provide an exact (or at least a good estimated) word count. Most editors work off per-word rates, so make it easier on both of you by providing your word count. That should eliminate confusion and the need for more back-and-forth correspondence.

Avoiding these common editing mistakes when preparing your manuscript for a professional editor will help the process go smoothly. It will take more time, but the manuscript will be better, your skills will be better, and you’ll be better equipped to handle revisions once the editor provides feedback and the in-depth line edits. Writing a polished manuscript is a long process, but it’s worth it!

Jody Calkins
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Jody Calkins

MG/YA Author & Book Editor at Emery Road Writing Services, LLC
Jody Calkins is a MG/YA Author & Book Editor, Writer's Coach, Content Marketing Strategist, Blogger, Pilot's Wife. Author of SHATTERED, a YA speculative thriller. Her editing services and training programs help novelists improve their writing skills, get motivated to write, improve productivity and time management, and battle self-doubt and other roadblocks. She works with middle-grade, young adult, and adult books in a variety of genres including Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Mystery, Thriller, and Self-Help.
Jody Calkins
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