What I learned about self-editing

So, as many of you who follow me already know, I’m in pitch-mode with my first novel, Life in the ’Cosm. I wrote until my Chromebook caught fire, turned a first draft into a beta-reader draft, got comments from readers, and then put myself in self-editing jail for several weeks.

Afterwards, I started to send the manuscript to a few publishers. Yeah, that was a mistake.

You see, as thorough as I thought I was, I missed one vital step. In my zeal to hit open-for-submissions deadlines, I had no time to put my book down and then read it again.

You must, hafta, really, I swear, read your book aloud one last time, before you submit it.

This is what I didn’t do. And you know what? After about a month after self-editing jail, I picked up my manuscript and pretended like each chapter was an actual reading. I found stupid mistakes, and dialogue that didn’t flow with the cadence I enjoy.

Wow. While I did take a break from my book in the summer when my beta-readers went through it, I forgot to take another break after I edited and prepared the manuscript for submission.

I now know this is a no-no.

Set up your stuffed toys from childhood (that even includes now) as your audience and read your book to them.

My devoted listeners

What? It worked for me. Angry bird laughed, Rainbow Dash wanted me to change a few things, and Grumpy Cat gave me a dirty look. Perhaps comic sci-fi is not Grumpy Cat’s thing.

I took my pretend readings seriously, and let myself experience the characters and the storyline. It not only helped me vet my story, but it also made me fall in love with it again.

While writing my book, I had Celia (my British Chromebook voice) read my book aloud to me. That was great as I developed the story, because Celia helped me catch things that weren’t right. I needed someone other than my own voice to force me to pay attention to my book. There are so many times you can read your work before you go blind to the screen or paper.

But once all the heavy lifting was said and done, my voice’s emoting and portraying was just what I needed to make ’Cosm submission-ready.

Try it, I double-dare ya!

Why not give it a whirl and let me know how it goes for you? I don’t think you can do any harm with one more look-see, and reading out loud is good practice for when hundreds of your adoring fans flock to their local book store in a mad frenzy just to hear their favourite author speak.

I dream in glitter and rainbows, what can I say?

Good luck, fellow scribes!


Cait Gordon has been a senior technical writer for high tech and government organizations. Her first novel is being sent to the universe. She hopes the universe likes it. (The second book has begun and a third will happen, too!)

One thought on “What I learned about self-editing

  1. Pingback: What I learned about self-editing | Cait Gordon, Imma Wrytur | Cindy Dorminy's Writing World

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