Self-Editing: a Four-Step Approach to Polishing Your Novel | Janet Gover

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What do a rubber duck, an impossibly complex spreadsheet and Post-it notes all have in common? Simple really – they are all tools we can use when we edit our books.

Whether you are planning to submit a book to an editor or agent, or to self-publish it, you need to know about editing. Whether it’s your first book or your hundredth book, you need to know about editing.

The amount of editing we need to do often surprises new writers – it certainly surprised me when I signed my first contract ten years ago. I sent off my manuscript and thought that’s done. I kept thinking that for two weeks until the edit notes came back from my editor. Change this. Move this. This doesn’t work very well. I was shocked. I soon discovered she was, of course, right.

Thirteen books later, I have had one (yes – 1 ) book published without major structural changes. Just copy edits. I’m very proud of that one.

Editing is a key part of writing. Some of us do it as we go along, and then just do a quick tidy at the end. Some of use do a rough first draft then edit the living daylights out of it.

Both are perfectly fine, because both achieve the same result – making the book the very best it can be.

I’ve tried many different ways of editing and along the way I’ve learned that what works for one person won’t for someone else. Sometimes what worked for one book doesn’t work for the next book. The more editing tools we have at our disposal, the easier it’s going to be to find the right one for this book. That’s what I’ll be talking about during this OWL.

A lot of editing is about tricking your brain into seeing what’s in front of your eyes – not what’s in your head. It’s about telling your ‘writer brain’ to be quiet while your ‘reader brain’ gets a say. I’ll be giving you some exercises that will help you do that. And some exercises that will help you identify the real heart of your book. And I’ll be giving you some feedback on those exercises to help you apply them to your own work.

I’ve used a duck, a spreadsheet, Post-it notes: all manner of tools to help me edit. If you don’t think these will work, have you thought about coloured pencils, or your ears?

Beware – editing ahead.

Do join me for the course. We’ll be doing some serious work, but there’ll be some fun as well.

And always remember, that editing is not a sign of bad writing. It’s the sign of a good and committed writer. I hope to see you online.


Self Editing – a four step approach to polishing your novel with Janet Gover
RWA OWL Course Dates: 3 to 30 June, 2019
Cost: RWA Member—$55. Non-RWA Member—$88.
Venue: Online – RWA Moodle Platform
For more information and bookings:

Janet Gover – June OWL presenter

Janet Gover is the author of 13 published novels. She has twice been a RuBY finalist, has won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award (UK) and several Romance Writers of America chapter awards. She draws on her experience growing up in rural Queensland for her Australian romances. As Juliet Bell, she co-authors darker relationship novels inspired by great English classics. Discover more:

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