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Writer Wednesday: Why Self-Edits Are Important

You’ll have heard me talk about these two issues before – editing, and my WIP Paper Love. That’s because they’re intertwined.

For probably about 3 years now, I’ve been intending to publish Paper Love, which is the updated version of my Watty Award winning novel “Faithfully”. It’s the novel I’m most proud of, the one that reignited my love of YA novels. It’s also a monster. It’s massive.

After my re-writes, to make it more realistic, more logical, and fix some plot gaps, I ended up adding quite a lot of material.

The book is 500 pages. 214,000 words.

Yeah, that’s a monster. And it’s a problem. Because, no one in the publishing world will touch that with a barge-pole, unless you’re a recognised name and a huge seller, like Tolkein, GRR Martin or Rowling, right? And that’s not me. So, the only way to get it into the hands of my publisher is to…edit it.

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This isn’t just self-edits. This is the self-edit of a lifetime. Getting something from Godzilla I-could-eat-a-country size to Piglet size. I need it to be at most 140k words to get accepted by my publisher. That’s roughly 200-300 pages, no more. That requires cutting 200 pages. Deleting 74,000 words!

You can see how I self-edit in the post: Editing Tips Updated. Now, doing this for a solo novel is fiddly. Doing it for a series, like I did for Surviving Vihaan, is a chore. Applying it to Paper Love? You’re talking Everest.

However…it must be done. Not only to be accepted for publishing, but because…honestly…it’s needed. I legit just finished reading it last night, and it was a bit of a mess. I’m talking, a Kindle page riddled with 2 dozen highlights, some a line or paragraph long, for deleting. The plot was fine, the characters were great and everything was in the right order, unlike my re-read of the last few Surviving Vihaan novels. But, it was a mess.

Simple phrasing issues, grammar, spelling mistakes…everywhere!

If a little editing can clean it up, cutting a dozen words with (nearly) every paragraph in a 500 page novel? That would be half my work done, right there. A touch of editing, some condensing, a bit of re-working the sentence, rearranging it or rewriting it, to cut it down and keep it simple, short and to-the-point…and my job is (almost) done!

Then there’s the minor character, Koby. Now, he NEVER appears on page. He’s a third(ary) character, who is Chandler’s best friend. He only EVER appears as someone Chandler phones/Skypes, but never has any on-page words or physical appearance throughout the entire book. So WHY did he get TWO PAGES of backstory?

So…that’s the job I have on my list. And that, alone, should explain WHY self-edits are SO important. Because, if that’s what I’m working with, why would an editor/publisher look at it and even contemplate taking it on? When I know that editing Surviving Vihaan Book 1 took 4 MONTHS…why would I force my editor or publisher to look at this, until I’d completed self-edits? It’s already over word count. Massively over.

Anyone in their right mind, but me, would take one look at the word count, page 1, and then dump it into the slush pile.

If I don’t want that to happen – and I don’t! – then I need to get my butt in gear and Get. To. Work.

~

I deliberately didn’t post this, or even dare schedule it, until I’d finished my edits. And I mean – read, quoted, marked character descriptions, timelines, and typed up all my edits, then run through my 360 filler/filter words…

Paper Love

  • word count BEFORE: 214,174
  • word count AFTER: 151,406
  • pages BEFORE: 500
  • pages AFTER: 390
  • total cut : 62,768

❤ NOTE: I originally wrote this post in February! It didn’t get schedule May 31st… So, sorry about that.

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