EDITOR KNOWHOW Make your book bullet-proof

Our Editor KnowHow series continues with Anne Glennie, the founder of Cranachan Publishing looking at line edits, and how to make your book bullet-proof.

When it comes to the line-by-line edit, I often warn new authors that this can be the most intense and challenging part of the publishing process as it involves fine-tooth-comb feedback on their work. While the first read through of their manuscript will have generated general feedback and edits around pace, plot and story, this next step gets in to the nitty-gritty of the writing where spelling, grammar and consistency are key, but so is sentence structure, vocabulary and turn of phrase. Basically, everything is on the table and up for discussion as we seek to make your book ‘bulletproof’. 
Remember the audience 
As we’re writing for children, the manuscript must be considered from their point of view. Will their reading experience be flawless? If there is anything that causes me to re-read or has the potential to be confusing? Will children understand what’s happening, even if they don’t understand a particular word? Sometimes, carefully crafted prose might be beautifully written, but if it’s inaccessible for a ten-year-old, then it’s worth reviewing. Be reassured that editing is a collaborative process and usually most changes will be suggestions or even questions. If anything at all crosses my mind, I usually note it in the margins – no stone is left unturned! 

Love the learning 
Ultimately, being edited results in a tighter, cleaner manuscript, and crucially, it uncovers your writer’s tics. Every writer has them – perhaps there are particular words or punctuation marks that you’re too fond of – or you begin too many sentences with ‘And…’ Or maybe your characters smile, sigh, breathe, frown, raise their eyebrows or bite their lips more than is desirable? Your editor will root out unnecessary repetition and anything that doesn’t enhance your story. 
Better books 
While there may be times you’d rather kill your editor than kill your darlings, remember you both want the same thing and the experience and learning that comes from being edited means that your next book will be better than your last – even before you’ve even begun.

Images contributed by Cranachan Publishing 

Anne Glennie is the founder of Cranachan, an indie children’s publisher based on the Isle of Lewis. As a small publisher, Anne works very closely with authors – especially during the editing process. Happily, most of them still speak to her after it. Follow her on Twitter at @cranachanbooks 

Do you have any suggestions for KnowHow? If there's something you'd like to know how to do or know more about, tell us. Email KnowHow editor, Eleanor at knowhow@britishscbwi.org

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