For the next few days, I’m going to explain here the steps I’m going through to get Seen Sean? out the (virtual) door. If you’re not interested, please ignore.
Okay, I have a manuscript. It has been through writes and rewrites, storyboarding, proofreading by three different individuals, and two more editing passes by me. In this post, I’ll tell you why I self-edit, and I’ll give a brief description of the final editing passes.
Why do I self-edit? Just one reason: Cost. A professional editor would charge about 2000 USD to work over a 60,000-word manuscript. I haven’t got that much to spend (and Seen Sean? is longer than that anyway), so I self-edit.
After I got the results from my proofreaders (Thanks Becky, Cathy and Andrew!) I printed a full manuscript for myself (single-spaced, two column text, just short of 100 pages) and went through it with a red pen. I hoped that would be my final pass, but alas! there were way too many edits. I knew I would have to do it all again.
But before the final pass, I decided to correct something I saw as I read: I used dashes (em-dashes “—”, not hyphens “-”, not minus signs “−”, not en-dashes “–”) and ellipses (that funny little thing of the three dots, “…”, which my wife pronounces “dah-dah-dah”) a lot, especially in dialog. So I started a pass, in the original computer file this time, to check just those bits of punctuation. As I see it, the dash means an interrupted thought; the ellipsis indicates a drawn out or incomplete thought.
As I got close to the end of that check I realized this: I use dashes and ellipses way too much. So I took the only reasonable course: I went through the entire manuscript again asking whether there was a better way to punctuate each use, and in some cases whether there was a better, more natural way to word the dialog, or in a few cases, action. There was a better way about 90% of the time.
Because of the amount of red ink on the last paper edit, I decided one more read-through was needed. I knew the manuscript was getting close with the punctuation straightened out, but I knew the story needed a final check.
So I formatted the manuscript into a .mobi file and side-loaded it onto my Kindle (a Kindle Keyboard wifi, née Kindle 3). I read Seen Sean? the way I read other people’s books, looking for wording that makes me cringe. I found about 180 problems, plus one (!) misspelling and one or two incorrect names, and noted everything using the Kindle’s highlighting and note-taking feature. I corrected everything, and now the manuscript is ready for the next step.