I want to start out by saying that reading an almost-77,000–word manuscript (the length of the first draft of my book) takes a while. Doing even the laziest of edits is still, at the very least, time-consuming. Proofreading, copyediting, or line editing take much, much longer and should be, in a perfect world, rewarded with wheelbarrows of money.
But, what if, like me and many writers, you have no money to offer? Florida doesn’t do the whole soda can deposit thing. (If anyone is interested in starting a petition for moving the state government forward on container deposit legislation, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.) And, since I became pregnant with Kid Number Two, I have been a full-time stay-at-home mom. That has been what works best for us since childcare is jaw-droppingly expensive, and really, why have kids if you have to spend most of your day away from them? Plus, the work I do is supposed to be rewarding in and of itself, right? “Right!” is the correct answer here.
The fix for me was finding a writer who had a manuscript of similar length who also did not have the money to hire a proper editor. I met Nancy in January 2015 at a FREE travel writing mini workshop at the headquarters library in downtown G-ville. It was also important that this person had experience with critiquing writing. She is an Associate Professor in Baltimore, Maryland, who was on her break here. We chatted some post-workshop and realized we were in the same sad dinghy. We were both stuck, circling, unable to successfully jump to the next level of the shiny luxury cruise ship of landing an agent. So we swapped printed and bound manuscripts (Nancy printed mine because my printer was broken.)
Each of us took roughly a week to read the other’s book. Nancy read mine first and held onto it until I finished hers. We each did just-for-fun read throughs and then jumped back in to do more in-depth copy editing, line editing, and even developmental editing. We kept in touch via email and mailed the marked-up manuscripts when I finished. The whole thing cost only the postage of Priority Shipping through USPS. To do it FREE FREE, you could simply email your Word documents and mark them up using the “New Comment” and “Track Changes” buttons in Word‘s Review tab. We wanted to work with hard copies.
When wheelbarrows of money roll through my front door, I will hire and adequately pay an editor happily. For now though, this is my DIY entrée into the next level. How have you found affordable, creative ways to give your manuscript the proper edit before pitching it?