Some writers-in-process have finished writing a book. You have a first draft. It's all finally in your computer. Whew! What a long haul!
Now it's done. Right? Ready to be sent off...somewhere...right away...to some royalty publisher...to an ebook...to a POD (Print On Demand)...to....? Or should you self-publish?
Wait! Actually, that's NOT your next decision. You are not "done." You should avoid sending it anywhere!
Your first draft is not the end but the beginning of much more essential preparation for publication. What you have thus far is an unpolished diamond in the rough, earthy, still caked with grime, just dug out of the earth. Or out of the depths of your heart and mind.
Now comes the real editing and the scrutiny of your "child" by many pairs of critical eyes, some of which are likely not to be kind and gentle with your precious creation.
I've heard this many times: "But this book is inspired by God! I received it from Him directly. I don't want a single thing changed!"
On the contrary, what you and I write is not Holy Writ, not verbally inspired Scripture or Divine Revelation. It is our sincere human effort to do the best we can to communicate some of God's principles in a format that will reach the hearts or minds of readers and effect some change that will please God, the Supreme Editor.
This is the point where you must get realistic. Slow down. Perhaps even put your child creation in the nursery for awhile; separate yourself, back off and look at it objectively. Take courage and don't take offense at whatever happens next. It's all to the good.
Let some time pass. Look at your creation again, this time without the delicious but exhausting emotional flush of the close encounter you've had with it since conception. Determine to do the best you can with the NEXT draft where you literally must do "syntax surgery" on your manuscript—cutting, condensing, comparing each line against the accepted American English standard, The Chicago Manual of Style. Be merciless with your punctuation. Such severe self-editing is all part and parcel of successful writing and publishing.
This may be the hardest part of your writing process. It may hurt you to throw away pet adjectives, cliches, tired verbs, humdrum nouns, and verbosity. If you don't do this self-editing, you will be obliged to pay all the more to an outside editor.
Then comes the editing by others in separate processes. Do you know the difference between Editorial Assessment, Developmental Editing, Copy Editing, Line Editing and Proofreading? If you are not skilled in the above processes, you must leave them to someone else who is more objective, experienced and professional.
Not to a doting relative who is afraid of offending you and so is inclined to flattery you. That does not help you. Each editing step brings you closer to presenting an acceptable manuscript to a publisher or as clean and as perfect as possible for self-publishing.
As a writer, severe self-editing helps you to leave your "caterpillar" days behind and emerge from your chrysalis.
Soon it will be time to dry your new butterfly wings and take the risk of flying in the garden of publishing in the company of other butterfly Christians who are "Writing for the Supreme Editor."
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