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Non-fiction, Presentation, Techniques

Any tips on editing?

One of the challenges I am having with my non-fiction book Juggling Life, Kids & You is that I keep on editing it and editing it and editing it. Will I ever be able to stop? I open the file daily now and re-read the last paragraph that I edited the day before, and change it again. Sometimes, I even change a chapter or section heading and each time it feels like I’m almost there, I re-read it and change it again.

Am I just being a perfectionist? I’ve been told that only I will know when it is ready to be handed over for a professional edit. I’ve even tried leaving it for a few weeks, and at one point for a few months, but each time I go back to it the same thing happens.

Is this normal for the first book? Is it just lack of experience? Maybe if I had several books published already, I could hand it over with confidence knowing that I’ve done enough.  On a positive note – at least I haven’t given up with it.

Those who’ve been there

I decided to have a look around at what other bloggers do, and not surprisingly found quite a few posts on the subject. I’m glad I’m not alone.  Here are a few good ones that I have found.  If you have any other tips please let me know.


About Sandra Madeira

I am a full-time working mum with a passion for writing and inspiring others. Subjects I tend to blog about are life skills, parenting, decluttering, worklife balance, etc. At the moment I am on a decluttering mission creating space in my house, garden and mind. I have challenged myself to do at least ten minutes a day and write about it. Have a good day! Sandra Freelance Writer


11 thoughts on “Any tips on editing?

  1. Hi Sandra,
    I’ll throw in my 2 cents worth (Oold saying. These days p;robably my 5 bucks worth!)

    You sound to me like you may be going at it like a perfectionist. Or letting the publishing boogieman (or woman!) intimidate you a bit. I think we all can succumb to that at times.

    Two suggestions:

    1. Edit it by continually imagining yourself to be your reader (at least the type of reader you’re writing for, that yuou want as you reader), and ask Why should I care about this, what I’m reading right here. Then strive to make it interesting, compelling, suspenseful whenever possible.

    2. Show around and find a reasonably priced pro editor. Most of them have varying rates depending on how thoroughly you want them to read/analyze your book. If you are serious about publishing (either commercially of self-publishing), it will be worth the investment–it can save you a lot of time rewriting and marketing and money too.

    Regards, glad to see you still writing away.

    Posted by Bill99 (@Bill99) | July 25, 2013, 11:12 pm
    • Don’t know why I wrote “2. Show around”–I meant: Shop around

      Posted by Bill99 (@Bill99) | July 25, 2013, 11:13 pm
    • Thanks for your wise words Bill. You are right, I am trying to be a perfectionist. The person who did the critique for me said that same thing about thinking about the reader when I am writing and making sure every sentence is one that the reader would want to read. I also agree that finding the right editor is so important in order to save a lot of headaches in the future. I have a few contacts, but I think I’ll shop around like you said. Thanks again Bill, Sandra

      Posted by Sandra Madeira | July 31, 2013, 11:16 am
  2. Sandra, most seasoned authors suggest using a methodical approach to revisions; I’ve read many of these posts because, like you, I just seem unable to keep from tweaking a word here, a phrase there in my own writing. I think it is perfectionism rearing its ugly head! Here is one writer’s approach: Other bloggers have 3, 4, and 5 step approaches, but the main point is that you shouldn’t just keep going over and over the same words. Another option you have is to get a manuscript evaluation from a professional editor (I wrote about that here: Your manuscript is probably in better shape than you think it is, so I’d follow Bill99’s advice and shop around for an editor; most good ones are booked a number of weeks in advance, so you’ll want to have your decision made before you’re actually ready to send your work for editing. (Bonus: more time to tweak a few more words. Kidding!)

    Posted by change it up editing | July 26, 2013, 4:17 pm
    • Thank you so much. ‘Going over the same words’ and ‘perfectionism’ are two things I am guilty of. I have had a professional critique and got some very good feedback and it is from this that I am doing the rewrite. I’ll have a look at your links you sent through for some more tips. Thanks again for taking the time to comment Sandra

      Posted by Sandra Madeira | July 31, 2013, 11:23 am
  3. I just have to say I HATE editing! Lol

    And even though I had lots of great advice (from guests on my blog….check out the editing articles) I STILL hate it *sniggers*

    Good luck honey xx

    Posted by Vikki Thompson | July 30, 2013, 12:02 pm
  4. Okay now that I’m at your site – I’m hooked. There’s lots of good info here (so thanks).

    I would go with the advice about getting an editor. 1) it’s hard to be objective about your own writing, and 2) even the smallest mistake (there vs. their) can be deceiving – our eyes see what we want to see, what we meant to say, even if it’s not what’s there.

    There are places like “,” “” and others where professionals offer services and you can control the budget. I bet if you posted for a reasonably-rated editor on your site, they’d be knocking your blog doors down. LOL. Best of luck with your editing and your book. (And there’s nothing wrong with perfectionists 🙂

    Posted by LJ | August 30, 2013, 9:54 pm
  5. I just discovered your site today and I know it is very late to respond, but I wanted to tell you something I once heard from literary critic and historian M. H. Abrams, probably best known for his books The Mirror and the Lamp and Natural Supernaturalism. When asked about editing in an informal meeting with a group of graduate students over twenty-five years ago, he said, “A book is never really finished. It is only finally abandoned.” I know that doesn’t really give you any specific ideas, but I think the idea that we must finally stop editing at some point is worth noting.

    Posted by Murray Montague | February 12, 2016, 3:51 am

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