A professional editors advice for writers before sending manuscripts.

As a copy editor, I know my role. I know what I need to look for within a manuscript, and my grasp over the English language is excellent enough to efficiently locate errors and inconsistencies. It’s my job, and I adore it. But, I always think that the process I go through with a writer is something which can really benefit us both. I know that there are always little things I can do to make the writers journey a little easier, alongside the basics of my role. There are things that you can do as the author to make my job a little easier too. The following tips reflect that ideal of helping yourself to help another too. Within this post, I’m focusing on what you can do and what you should check before you send a manuscript to your editor.

Be as close to 100% happy with your manuscript as you can be.

When you send your manuscript, it’s really important that you’re happy with everything that you’ve written. You’re not umming and aahing over any characters, events or little details. If you are, then hold off sending and figure out what changes you want to make. Sending a manuscript off that you’re not actually 100% finished with may cost you more money and both of you more time. This is because you’ll end up receiving your manuscript back, only to change or rewrite parts you weren’t originally happy with. Realistically your editor should look over the new additions, taking up more time, and for you, more money. Your editor may not mind, because it’s their job, and they’re the one getting paid. It’s much easier when you know that the manuscript you’re sending off is one where you’re finished and happy with what you’ve written. 

Make sure you’ve finished with beta reading and critique partners.

I have read questions before asking whether to use an editor or a beta reader first. My answer is always a beta reader. Similarly to the above reasoning, not doing so can cost you time and money. Using beta readers or critique partners first allows you to gage a readers perspective before you actually publish. They’ll make suggestions and share their opinions. This will usually inspire you to make changes to your manuscript. You’re better off waiting for the feedback first, then mindfully reading through it and taking the time to apply changes in a way that you’re satisfied with. If you were to have an editor complete their work first, then get beta feedback, you’re going to change things that have already been edited. After making the changes, you then should probably resend your manuscript for another edit, which is what will cost you. There’s no point getting an edit, just to change and rewrite it again.

Go through your writing yourself to clear easy to spot errors and typos

Obviously, it’s my role to methodically check your manuscript for errors, but it can never hurt you to check through yourself before you send it. Looking for the blatant errors and inconsistencies yourself will develop your skills when it comes to writing and grammar anyway, but it also means that your editor can really focus on the more advanced aspects. Plus, you can find that some editors ask for an extract of your manuscript to discern if they’ll be the right fit, and to help them calculate a price. If you send an extract which has an abundance of errors, you may be charged more, because the edit will need more focus and effort. 

Figure out if there’s a style guide to be used, and be sure about your audience.

When beginning my work with a client, I like to ask a few questions before I start my role, to personalise my services. I incorporate questions on things like style guides and audience types. If you take the time beforehand to figure these things out for yourself, not only will you write more consistently and with your target audience in mind, but it makes it really easy to answer any questions your editor may have. You’ll feel more confident too.

Know your plot inside out

Similarly to the point above, taking the time to really know your plot, characters and settings will help you lots when it comes to sending your manuscript and working with an editor. Your editor may ask questions to you as they work through the plot, and these questions will be much easier to answer if you already know everything inside out. Plus, you won’t need to hunt through your manuscript yourself to get the answers, which is much quicker, and will help you to feel organised.


Have a synopsis ready too


To figure out if your book is going to be something I’ll have interest in working on, it can be great to read a synopsis, or even just a brief overview. But a synopsis allows me to get a better grasp of your manuscript, and will really help me figure out my first thoughts.

To conclude…

Hopefully you can see what I meant within my introduction! I really do feel that the advice I’ve given within this post would be able to help both you; the writer, and me; the editor. I always think that it’s so much better when I’m able to really work as a little team with my writers, both of us doing that little bit extra to help each other and make the editing process much nicer and much more rewarding.

I’d be very happy to answer any questions that this post may have given you. I would love to know if you’ve any other advice on what you always do before sending off a manuscript. I’m hoping to expand on this theme within my future blog posts, splitting up the editing process to give more categorised tips and advice. If you think that would be a good idea, please let me know!

Published by Amy Ollerton

Hi! I'm Amy—a professional copy editor and proofreader living in the beautiful Scottish Highlands. I provide friendly, personalised services that boost writing while retaining the author's unique style and voice. I write a little myself, shown through my blog. Alongside my work, I read books, enjoy baking, and explore the Highlands with my partner and my dog, Lula. If you've ever any editing queries, feel free to get in touch!

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