Polish Your Manuscript With One Final Sanity Read

sanity_catWhat? This picture SCREAMS sanity.

Last time, I talked about the editing and revision “groove” I got into and rather enjoyed. As you read there, it involved

  • a defined but flexible schedule,
  • a good heaping helping of self-compassion,
  • a blend of making edits directly on my computer and typing in edits made on paper.

Some of the edits were rather substantial, basically drafting whole new, fresh paragraphs (or pages). Then there was the matter of all that typing. Data entry inevitably opens the door to finger-mistakes. How could I be sure all this new material fit in well, and as flawlessly as possible?

For sanity’s sake, once I finished my final editing/revision pass on Blood’s Force, I completed one last read-through of the entire manuscript. This was not just to look for dumb mistakes. During my prior editing, I’d been deeply focused on one chapter at a time. This was a time to consider the book as a whole, and how all the parts worked together.

Once again, I started at the beginning with a blank mind and moved forward chronologically. I tried to read at the same pace as a regular reader, but was a little slower at times with my attention on typos. Still, this went a lot quicker than an editing/revision pass. I was able to review around 15k words a day on average; you might be able to handle more or less.

On my sanity pass, these were the specific things I paid attention to. Hopefully, you find them useful as well!

(1) Spelling, grammar, punctuation, omitted words, repeated words. In your word processor, try reading your work at different zoom levels. Low zoom gives you a better chance of catching words that have been accidentally repeated across paragraphs and pages. Reading at a high magnification lets you identify typos easier. So can switching fonts, especially to something monospace, so the font you normally use doesn’t trick you into thinking you spelled something right. Speaking of fonts, make sure to pick a good one for the final product.

megaflicksOh, kerning, you bitch.

(2) Continuity. Verifying consistency in character traits, inventories, events, details, spellings, and actions.

(3) Flow from chapter to chapter. Does the story progress the way you intended? Are your chapter transitions strong enough to allow someone to put the book down for a while, then ease back in with minimal difficulty? (I’ll likely have more to say on this later, as it was a weak point in my earlier drafts.)

(4) Huh? sentences. If at any time you pause and sit on a sentence, not quite sure what you meant to convey, that’s likely to be a spot where your reader will stop and go “Huh?” too. Edit or remove it.

This is not just about quality and making sure you correctly changed what you intended to change. You’re also minimizing the chances of your reader being jarred by unintentional goofs. The more attention you put into this now, the less likely you’ll have to correct things after the book is published. Given how tedious it is to make these corrections, post them, and wait for the fixes to become available to customers, you want to avoid this whenever possible!

I’ll probably have more to say about my first experience with the self-publishing process as well. There was a lot that I DIY-ed, and I’d be happy to talk about it for anyone else who wants to minimize their publishing expense without sacrificing quality.

If there are any questions I can answer for you about anything, feel free to ask in the comments!

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