Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Writer's Wednesday: Self-Editing to make a manuscript shine

SELF-EDITING.... with Nocturne Author Linda Thomas-Sundstrom

Making our manuscript shine.

Hi there Pink Heart readers. I’m taking a break form my deadlines with Harlequin Nocturne to give a brief rundown on the self-editing process, and share about how important it is to get manuscripts in that are as close to perfect as we can make them. Because editing, and the appearance of our manuscripts, can make or break the sale of our novels, short stories, etc, when they cross an editor’s desk.

With so many people writing, and trying to break into the market (and then stay there), the old days of an editor seeing "promise" in a manuscript ---and then being willing to take on an author whose work needs a ton of editing - are gone.

These days, with publishing houses buying fewer and fewer books, and companies buying up other companies, it's pretty much a given that editors won't look past obvious mistakes in writing, or sometimes even small ones.

Yes — yes..... a writer has to have talent in order get an editor to read anything beyond the first paragraph of a novel. And sometimes editors will read only the first couple of lines - because they have so much work to do and so little time to do it.

So -let's assume that we have talent, our books are finished, and we want to send the manuscript to a publisher.

I’m putting up a short list here that might help make our manuscripts stand out... and lead editors to recognize us as professionals are serious, and have who have done our homework.

“SELF-EDITING” means making surface-level changes in your work, so that your writing is gramatically correct. To be skilled at this process, we need to know what to look for when we read over our work.

Here is a basic handy-dandy check list for organizing and finding mistakes or problems in our work:

Things to check and double check:


___Fragments (parts of sentences) Too many?

___Run-ons (two sentences incorrectly joined)

Spelling: Punctuation:

___Missing letters

___Extra letters __Missing commas

___Transposed letters __Missing quotation marks

___Incorrect plurals __Misused semi-colons and colons

___Errors in homonyms (such as their/there/they're) __Misused apostrophes

Usage: Capitalization:

___Errors in pronouns (such as who/whom) __Proper nouns and adjectives

___Wrong verb tense __Errors in titles

___Double negatives

___Misplaced modifiers

___Unnecessary words

___Misused adjectives and adverbs - or too many!

___Incorrect voice (active vs passive)

If we keep this list on hand, and read for errors, we’re going to be one-up on polishing our work to perfection.

Of course, there are so many MORE things to do, like revisions, etc. But this is a start.

When I turn something in, I have done all of this.... and my new book for Nocturne, out this month and titled “GOLDEN VAMPIRE” needed little help from my editor and copyeditor! I have had an editor from Kensington drop a line to thank me for turning in clean manuscripts!

This is a writer’s craft day. So If you have any questions - just holler.

I’m here today to help, to chat, and to support the Pink Heart Society, who do a lot for supporting me, as well as other authors who write series books.

Cheers for now- I’m all ears!


“GOLDEN VAMPIRE” - Nocturne - available now!

“VAMPIRE LOVER” - Nocturne Bite (ebook novella-) available now!


  1. If you caught the typo in this post, you just might WIN a prize! Editing skills on? Hint: read with care, as you'd have to do if this were your manuscript!

    Read? Set? READ! WIN!!!!!


  2. I found the typo. I do the same one quite often. Thank you for the great information about self-editing.


  3. Found it also, Linda. Great job posting such a complete, detailed list of "to do's and don't". Many thanks. No wonder you're a success! Joy (Taylor Jaeger)

  4. Hi Linda -

    Your editing workshop is great! :)

    I found a boo-boo... But I'll refrain from pointing it out so others can search for it too! LOL

    Great post and good luck with the new release too!


  5. Found it! Excellent checklist, Linda. :)

  6. Thank you so much for putting that in checklist form. That makes it easier. I will keep it handy from now on.
    And to anyone who hasn't read it, The Golden Vampire is a must read! It's a great size to fit in your purse too, just incase you get stuck in line some where you can whip it out.

  7. HI everyone. I'm sooo glad you are game to play the self-editing game.

    Actually - just so you know... there are really TWO errors in this post. Ha. Caught you with your pants down?

    I'll keep tabs on how this is going, and then I'll ask all you self-editors here to confirm the mistakes.

    I'll be happy to get this CHOCOLATE out of here, believe me. I can smell chocolate from a mile away. I'm sort of a forest-ranger for picking up a chocolate trail.

    Anyone HUNGRY?????


  8. Dear Karen Ritter - THANK YOU for the kind words about GOLDEN VAMPIRE.

    The book had a really interesting start. A story within a story. So it's lovely to have someone connect with Lance and Jesse... and ME!

    We live for kind words!

  9. Back again.
    Just had someone e-mail me to ask about the "Vampire Moons" series. Here's the list.
    Thanks for asking!~

    VAMPIRE LOVER - Nocturne Bite - out now!
    GOLDEN VAMPIRE - Nocturne - out now!
    NIGHT BORN - Nocturne Bite - August
    GUARDIAN OF THE NIGHT - Nocturne - February 2012

    www. lindathomas-sundstrom .com

  10. Waving wildly to Linda, a fellow chapter mate whose book Golden Vampire made Harlequin's Top Ten List for a Weekend Read. Woo Hoo!!

    Found the error, maybe errors. ( : Great post and very true. My manuscripts are pretty clean. I spend a lot of time going over them to check for mistakes. Good list to save.

    Though I adore chocolate, I think it would melt before it reached Japan, so you can take me out of the running. ( :

  11. Okay. So I will wait until 9 PM tonight, west coast time, and then I'll look for e-mails in my in-box (I'll provide the address) listing the mistakes in the post.

    So you've got to stop back tonight. K?

    Then, the chocolate will FLY!


  12. HI GABRIELLA in JAPAN! Nice to see you here. YAY!

    Is your ground still shaking?

    Yes, GOLDEN VAMPIRE is on the top 10 list on HQ's newsletter. I am so jazzed about this. Totally thrilled. Did a lot of happy dancing to make room for chocolate, in case no one found the mistakes today.


  13. Quilla, Lisa, Maeve, Joy - and Melissa. Are any of you here tonight?
    Can you tell me about the two mistakes?


  14. Oops, and JOY, too?

    Anyone with blog stamina?

    If so, you can e-mail me at
    (remove the blank spaces)

    linda @ lindathomas-sundstrom .com

  15. Linda,
    The blog contest ran too late for my blood. I'm an early riser.
    Here are the two editing errors I found:
    "recognize us as professionals {who} are serious"

    The second error is the missing comma in the first sentence.
    "Hi there{,} Pink Heart readers."

    What an ingenious contest, Linda!


  16. Melissa - event though you missed the typo in the first paragraph (hehehe), you did come up with two!

    And here you are! So, you're the WINNER. I'll be contacting you today about your prize.

    Signing off of this blog now.
    Have a happy Easter weekend, everyone!

  17. Wonderful blog & good post.Its really helpful for me, awaiting for more new post. Keep Blogging!

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