How do you know if your book, short story, article, or dissertation is ready to be published? If you want your writing to be professional, there are necessary steps to take. Successful writing isn’t just putting words on a page. That’s where you start. Then you need to utilize experts who will polish your writing to reflect the most up-to-date industry standards, making it attractive to publishers and readers alike.
If you are a beginner, the first step is to learn the skill of writing. Take writing courses in your specific genre. Styles and rules constantly evolve, so what you learned five years ago may not be applicable today. There are countless courses available, writing groups to join (online or in person), and many specific resources to help you learn how to write. Remember, no one produces a masterpiece their first time. Or second or third. You have to study hard, practice a lot, and develop your skills to produce excellent work.
After you’ve written, reviewed, and corrected your entire piece—and feel it’s as good as you can make it—take these necessary steps before publishing it.
1. Manuscript Critique
A MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUE will give you a professional evaluation of your writing. An expert will review your work and identify weak areas, inconsistencies, structure problems, incorrect terminology, areas with too much or not enough detail, and point out anything that doesn’t work. Unless you are a seasoned writer, paying for a professional manuscript critique is wise. You will likely have to rework many areas of your writing, so you don’t want to pay for detailed editing yet.
2. Substantive Editing/Content Editing
A SUBSTANTIVE OR CONTENT EDITOR will go through your manuscript in detail to ensure every part of it is up to current professional writing standards. This expert will identify problems with content, structure, syntax, logic, consistency, theme, tone, organization, and flow. For fiction, you will also be notified of problems with plot, subplots, dialogue, point of view (POV), characters, character development, setting, pacing/tension, showing instead of telling, goals/motivation/conflict, and many other specific issues. This edit is critical for elevating your writing to meet professional standards. It will cost you, but even publishing houses always use substantive editors.
A professional COPY EDITOR will scrutinize your writing to be sure all of the technical aspects are accurate according to the most current rules for your genre. This editor will focus on punctuation, spelling, grammar, sentence structure, clarity, word choice, flow, tone, continuity, misuse of terms, redundancies, etc. For nonfiction, a copy editor will additionally make sure everything is correct with your citations, facts, references, figures, tables, quotations, copyrights, etc. This is another absolutely necessary edit that even publishing houses always perform. It will cost you, but errors in these areas will seriously discredit your writing.
A professional PROOFREADER will review your edited, polished manuscript and look solely for technical errors such as misspelled words, incorrect punctuation, grammatical problems, inconsistent formatting, etc. Even if writing has been scrutinized multiple times, something will get overlooked. Make sure you use a proofreader who is experienced in your genre to do this important job. Proofreading is also absolutely necessary before publishing your writing, but it needs to be the very last step.
Now your writing is as professional as possible! 🙂
Two other resources you need to know about:
5. Writing Coach (Mentor)
If you are new to writing and want someone to teach you professional writing skills, you can hire a WRITING COACH. Unlike the generic instruction you would receive in a writing class, a writing coach will evaluate your writing and customize training for your specific needs. Writing successfully requires many hours of study and diligent work. There are many rules to learn, and stylistic trends keep changing, so it’s very helpful to have an professional mentor’s guidance. Make sure the writing coach is experienced in your specific genre.
If you don’t want to learn writing skills, you can always hire a GHOSTWRITER to write your book for you. This person is an experienced writer who can take your notes, outlines, ideas, etc. and write a professional book or article for you. You, as the author, will retain all rights and receive all royalties—the ghostwriter is not mentioned anywhere. However, these experts typically charge a substantial amount to perform this all-encompassing service.
Savvy Writer Tip:
Writing starts with putting words on a page. In order for your writing to be professional, credible, up-to-date, and publishing-ready, you need to hire experts along the way. These are people with unique skills you need to use at each stage leading up to publishing. Savvy writers utilize industry professionals to make their writing as accurate and polished as it can be. 🙂