Making a Good Book Great

“But editing is hard work!” a new writer complained when I suggested she might need some help editing after I read her first chapters. “I’ve already had my mom, friend, and neighbor read my manuscript and they really like it.”

When I asked the outcome of sending her manuscript to agents and editors, she answered, “Well, I’ve had it rejected three times.”

Maybe like this writer, you have a great idea, compelling characters and a twisty, page-turning plot. You’ve written a great nonfiction memoir or an inspirational book that will really help readers. Perhaps you’ve worked for months on your book, or longer.

The missing link may be the skills of an experienced editor. A pair of fresh eyes and honest feedback on how to take your book from good to great. None of us are immune from editing! Even if we’ve had a number of books published, our writing still needs editing.

Someone once said that editing can make an okay book good, a good book great, and a great book a blockbuster. Editing doesn’t mean just fixing grammar and spelling mistakes; it means a lot more. Let’s look at the first kind of editing our books need: (The next 3 kinds of editing will be in my next blog…)

Development editing means helping the writer with the structure and content of their book and identifying rough or unclear areas (we all have them).

I’ll give you an example. When I sent the manuscript for my 8th book, When Mothers Pray to the editor after working on it for 9 months, I thought it was all finished. However, the next day my editor called me and said I needed to completely change the structure and outline of the book, rewrite the whole manuscript and take a different approach. She also asked questions, gave me direction to improve the book—and two months to complete the task. After the disappointment and shock wore off, I got some help, got to work—and am so glad I did. All that rewriting resulted in a much better book that became a bestseller, went into 80 countries and is still selling, 21 years later.

So let me ask you:

  • Do your first chapters need editing before you send them to an agent or editor?
  • Have you worked hard on your book manuscript but gotten nothing but rejections?

If so, we want to invite you to join us at WWSW’s Writer’s Retreat at the Abbey, April 26-28th. Whether your work-in-progress is non-fiction or fiction, Rene Gutteridge, Cheri Fuller, Melanie Hemry, authors of a combined 125 books, will be available to not only help edit your work, but do much more, which you’ll find on our website .

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