Writing a novel is easy. Writing a good novel that people enjoy and want to share with others is anything but. Based on TV shows and other novels, however, you’d never know that.
Fictional novelist Richard Castle somehow managed to write best-selling novels without actually doing much writing. I can’t tell you how many novels I’ve read where a character’s debut novels sell millions, making them instant celebrities without any training or experience. But those authors know better—it’s never that fast or easy.
Even though I know fiction isn’t reality, that didn’t stop me from imagining my first manuscript was “it”—the emotional, romantic masterpiece that would score me a big contract, place my books in major retailers, and launch a lucrative publishing career.
I wrote that novel in 2007 and sent it to agents and publishers in 2008. I received many lovely rejections. No contracts. In fact, I didn’t see a contract until 2014 when I finally attracted an agent’s attention with my third manuscript. I just knew my book deal was on its way.
It took four more years before I found a publisher.
After more than a decade of work, I was too excited to be frustrated with how long the contract took. I finally had an agent and a publisher—my career had launched! I had years of writing experience, but that wasn’t all. I’d started my own freelance editing business and worked as a general editor for an award-winning small publisher. With all of those experiences and connections, I knew I’d arrived.
My first and second books published in 2018 and 2019. Then the creative well dried up.
In my years of waiting for a book contract, I’d discovered a love of (and talent for) fiction editing, but I spent so much time helping others that I struggled to find the time and energy to work on my own manuscripts. When I did, I rushed through the process in my impatience to get another deal.
It took three more years before I signed another contract.
It’s now been 16 years since I wrote my first story (which is still unpublished). At first glance, it looks like my publishing journey has taught me patience, but it’s more than that. It’s also taught me to stay teachable, as the industry is constantly changing. But it’s goes even deeper still. My success, such as it is, has taught me a lesson that continues to bless and guide me in every aspect of life:
Your work is never perfect. There’s always something to learn. And it’s not the most talented, best connected authors who do well—it’s the authors who are willing and able to let go, take advice, and work with others (not against them) to turn something good into something wonderful.
Though it’s never an easy lesson to learn, I wouldn’t change anything about the experiences that have helped me embrace humility.
Take your self-editing skills to the next level.
· Have you eliminated all the telling?
· Are the characters complex?
· Is every scene necessary?
Most authors will answer ‘yes!’ to these questions. But then editors and readers tell them the descriptions don’t engage them, the characters are stereotypical, and the story dragged.
How do you fix it?
Self-editing can only take you so far. But if you know the right questions to ask and you know how to interpret the answers, you’ll not only strengthen your self-editing skills, you’ll strengthen your writing.
How to Edit Your Novel doesn’t simply rehash the fiction-writing basics that create good stories—it provides examples, context, and questions that will help authors identify and strengthen their weaknesses the same way a professional editor tackles a manuscript.
By combining mini writing lessons with practical self-editing tips, everything a writer needs to become a better self-editor is practically presented. Whether you’re a new writer or an experienced author, How to Edit Your Novel can help you polish your story into a gem that agents, publishers, and readers will want to keep reading.
“…bound to be a book you keep right next to your keyboard….”
–Cristel Phelps, Managing Editor for Fiction, Elk Lake Publishing, Inc.
Author of hopeful fiction with a healthy dose of romance, Karin Beery also owns Write Now Editing, helping authors turn good manuscripts into great books. She lives in northern Michigan with her husband and pets. They drink too much (decaf) coffee, put up their Christmas tree the first weekend in November, and do their best to live every day for the Lord. Her first nonfiction book, How to Edit Your Novel: Practical Tips for Strengthening Your Story, released in Novembeer of 2023 and her next novel, Finally Forever, will be available early 2024.