Well, easier 😉. You’ve written much of your book. You’ve made sure the blue eyes on page 46 aren’t brown on page 220 and that Uncle Grady’s southern accent doesn’t come and go. What’s next? You’re looking ahead, getting ready to get ready. Here are the steps I often use and suggest for others. One step at a time, love bug.
1. Put each chapter of your book (and section of your book proposal) through Grammarly.com to ensure you’ve got your words as clean and tight as possible.
2. Pretend you’re recording your audiobook and read each chapter/part out loud. Listen for flow, duplication, and dead words or sentences. If you’re bored, your reader will be, too. But your prose will likely leap off the page for others if you’re entertained by what you’ve written.
3. Paste everything back into Grammarly after making your post-read-aloud changes. Why again? Because, eyes. They’re fallible. (AI is, too, but it’ll catch more than you will.)
4. Have the manuscript line edited by someone you trust (who has solid testimonials and an eye for not only errors but flow, story arc, and page-turning prose).
5. Have at least three beta readers read the entire book and give you specific feedback. (Does it open strong and hold their attention? Are the characters believable, likable, and worthy of their time? Did they learn something valuable? Were they distracted anywhere, and if so, where? That kind of thing.) Ideally, you have readers who don’t know you or feel pressure to make you happy. Ha. New to the idea of beta readers? If you’re a Beautiful Writers Group member, you’ll find one of my favorite expert interviews (on how to work with beta readers) with writer Matthew Taylor in our archives. If you’re not a member, consider joining us! It’s super affordable at only $25 per month. 🎁
6. When you’re ready to send your work out to literary agents (something I do for alums of my writing retreats), you’ll feel rock-solid ready! Still shaking in your boots, of course, but with the confidence of knowing you’ve dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s like a pro.
PS. In my last book, Beautiful Writers, chapter 18 (Edit, Edit, and Then Write Some More) breaks down the different kinds of edits and editors and how to use them, from the initial writing phase to publication. And in case you’re feeling like you’re the only one the Universe is toying with, I include a few outrageous chopping-block stories behind some of your favorite books, with wisdom from Cheryl Strayed, Jenny Lawson, Seth Godin, Sabaa Tahir, Lee Child, Mary Karr, Patricia Cornwell, and others weighing in.