As I point out on the opening page, this is not a book about why writers don't need editors. Writers need editors. This is a book about how to begin the editing process with the writer and produce a better book that needs less outside editing before you or someone else publishes it.
I've been writing professionally for 40 years, and editing professionally for 24. For a few years I worked as a book doctor, helping writers get books into shape for submission to agents and publishers.
One of the things I learned over those years is how few people who want to write—even those with English degrees and other impressive credentials—know what they need to know about the craft of writing and all the little crafts that go into it, including the craft of self-editing. I kept coming across the same errors again and again, in manuscripts that were pretty sure never to see print, and—more surprisingly—in those with a lot of promise. I wrote reports for my clients in which I showed how to avoid their common writing errors in the future, and eventually created a list to give to all clients with their marked-up manuscripts. That list became the basis of this book.
The first and foremost repeating error was redundancy, and most of my editorial red ink was devoted to eliminating it. Writers who are unsure of their writing, and therefore of their readers’ ability to “get it,” tend to over-explain characters and their actions, say something one way, then another way later in the same sentence without realizing they’ve done so, add unnecessary words and phrases to the beginnings or the ends (or both!) of their sentences, “tell” the reader what to think when they ought to “show” what's happening, and in general reveal their uncertainty and hesitation over and over again. Three sections in the book: Filler Words, Fish Heads (and Tails), and Superfluous Redundancy are devoted to educating writers away from overwriting. Other sections tell of the use and abuse of Adverbs, the verbs To Be and To Have, Point of View Violations, Pacing, and Misplaced Modifiers, among many other early-draft problems that can keep a good book from emerging from a troubled manuscript.
I’ve included a Self-Editing Checklist at the back of the book for quick reference, and also made a printable version available for download from Ravenscourt Press.
It's only $2.99 at amazon.com, and soon at other e-book stores. If you know someone who could benefit from it, you know what to do.