I have a local access TV show, The Writer’s Dream, where I interview authors about writing, publishing, and marketing.

I always ask this question. “What is your best advice for authors, especially those with a first manuscript?” The most common answer is, “Get a good editor.”

My suggestion is to have your manuscript in the most perfect condition you can manage before you settle on an editor. Editorial services and professional editors can cost a lot of money.

So, how do you go about getting your manuscript as near perfect as possible before sending it to an editor? It’s the power of the group. Browse through your local libraries programs for writers’ groups. Join professional author organizations that have critique groups. Meet-up.com has many author groups. You can go on their site and look for groups that meet in your area.

Find a group that fits your style. Some critique groups are gentler than others. Ask your contacts in the groups you choose to be beta readers for you. They read the book for flaws, but also for what they think the appeal is to readers. If your book has a lot of factual material, check those facts. Have someone proof read the book. Proof reading looks for flaws like spelling and punctuation errors, repeated sentences, incomplete sentences and the like.

There is great value in submitting your book to a group of writer/readers. They will see things you may not see, or don’t know how to fix. Once you have done all that, look for a professional editor. Understand that your friend who is an English teacher may not have the skills or the knowledge to meet the publishing industry’s standards. I had a magazine editor edit my last book, not realizing that the style manual used by magazine writers is different from the one used with books. I had to do a lot of extra work to undo that edit.

Find a friendly group. They will help you. You will learn from them. And hopefully the relationship will be reciprocal.  

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