A lot of people make the mistake of publishing or querying their book too early—without enough editing done! The key to a solid book and a professional look is editing. Don’t publish too early because you want to just have it out. You want to make sure it’s polished and perfect before it sees a publishing professional or a sale.
1. Read through for spelling errors and awkward sentences. Many suggest reading it out loud to help with awkward phrasing.
2. Read through for common writing errors such as sentence fragments, omitted commas, apostrophe errors, missing dashes, and misspellings.
3. Pay attention to repetitive words. If you use awesome five times in a sentence, you should probably omit the other four and grab a thesaurus.
4. Do a separate read through for overall story. Make sure that it makes sense. Ensure you have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Make sure your main idea is clear. Make sure your story is organized.
5. Make sure your setting is clear. Have you set up a clear who, what , when, where, and why?
6. Is it historically correct? If your book is non-fiction or historical fiction, make sure you do your homework so that you have your facts straight. If they aren’t, you won’t have credibility with your readers.
7. Conflict! Double check for conflict! Have you created a problem? Have you fixed it (or most of it) by the end?
8. Read through for silly mistakes! Make sure you haven’t accidentally moved an apartment to the wrong floor (chapter one says it’s floor 16 but chapter five says it’s floor 5) or that you haven’t all of a sudden changed someone’s name.
9. Pacing! Read through for any boring parts or parts that may need to move around a bit. Be honest with yourself! If you find yourself wanting to skip ahead, your readers will too.
10. Are you showing the reader instead of telling?
11. Send your book to your critique partners. Listen to what they have to say. If they think something sounds weird or if they think something hasn’t been made clear, consider their advice. If they have this though, there’s a good chance that others will too!
12. Professional editing. If you’re self-publishing, there’s nothing worse than a book with a zillion errors. It’s always smart to spend the money to get it professionally edited, even after you’ve read and proofed and read and proofed.