Topic #3: Create a polished manuscript.
So, you write and write (and write) until you have the first draft of a novel. Here’s a secret: all first drafts are terrible. There, I said it. But I’m not the only one. Here's a quote from Ernest Hemingway: “The first draft of anything is shit.” That leads us to a quote from E.B. White: “The best writing is rewriting.” My translation of what these writers were trying to say: Get your first draft done. Don’t worry too much about the quality. Rewrite it again and again until it is good. And then keep rewriting until it is even better.
What works best for you when you edit your writing?
Here is my three-step process to create a polished manuscript:
Step 1: Self-editing. Go through it numerous times, because you’ll find more improvements to make every time. Read it out loud (to your spouse, your friend, or your dog). You’ll be surprised at how helpful this is in assessing the pacing and flow.
Step 2: Ask your friends to edit it. Maybe they aren’t professional editors, but they’ll have some suggestions, and they may have a good grasp of grammar and punctuation. They can even give you tips on effectiveness of the plot. And they’re inexpensive. They might do it for a pizza.
Step 3: Have at least one professional-level editor go through it. As an indie author, there is a risk of avoiding this due to the cost. But if you want to try to sell your novel, this is one of the two things you absolutely must invest in (the second is a professional cover design). You can expect to pay from $4 to $12 per 1000 words of your novel. A typical price would be $5, so this would be $400 for a novel of 80,000 words. You can easily hire editors on web sites such as: https://www.fiverr.com/ To be sure an editor can do professional-level work, look at their reviews and ratings (I can recommend several). Tip: do not do this step until you have edited to the best of your ability. You want your professional editor to do what you cannot, rather than paying them to do what you can do yourself.
Bottom line: finish your first draft, edit it yourself (over and over), have friends edit it, and finally, have a professional editor work on it.