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You’ve completed the first full draft of your shiny new novel, and you’re chomping at the bit to send it off to your developmental editor. I mean, it’s on paper now, right? Isn’t it time to get some help with fleshing it out so you can move on to the next step? 

Not so fast. 

It’s incredibly valuable for authors to run their own round of self-edits before they send their manuscript off to a developmental editor. When we’re in the trenches on a new book, it’s easy to get excited. But we all know that the first draft is never the draft you should kick to the editor, because there are always a ton of problems. That’s just the nature of writing. (I like to say first drafts are terrible, but editing is where the magic happens.) 

“But what if I revised the manuscript as I went?” 

Good try, but…you need a little breathing room to step back, get some distance from the story, then come back to it with fresh eyes to run your own developmental round. It might sound like a drag at first, but self-editing on a developmental level will pay major dividends when it’s time to send the book to professional eyes. 

Dev Self-Edits Help You Catch Low-Hanging Fruit 

When you start your own round of developmental self-editing, you’ll be surprised at how many problems you find yourself. And if you’re anything like me, a lot of those problems amount to glaring plot holes and low-hanging fruit that you can fix on your own. Why is this important? Because (hopefully) you don’t hire an editor to point out a multitude of simple problems that you can easily find and tackle. 

Where you really need the strongest editorial support is in the character arcs, plot, and nuance of the story. It’s going to be harder for an editor to provide those things if you’ve left a horde of distractions on the page. Clear away the surface issues so you can go deeper with your editor. 

Self-Editing Helps Your Editor Do Their Job Better 

If you want to have the best possible working experience with your editor, then developmental self-editing lowers that barrier to entry. Set both of you up for success by running your own edits, then passing the book on. Doing this work on the front end gives your editor the chance to shine when they dive in. Rather than having them come back to you with a list of issues you could have found beforehand, they’ll be able to get into the real meat of the story. In the end, you’ll both be happier, and your book will be better for the work. 

Need Guided Self-Editing Help? 

Waypoint has you covered! We’ve developed our very first full-length e-course, Master Self-Editor: Developmental Edition, for the kind team over at Infostack. It just released today for their annual Black Friday sale, so if you want in on a ton of incredible deals featuring a wide range of authors and experts in the publishing industry, click here to learn more

Featured image by Joanna Kosinska | Unsplash

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