Writing Tips: When Should You Re-Read Your Manuscript?

By Cynthia Sax on November 1, 2017

Note: As always, this is my opinion. You are a different person, a different writer. If my advice doesn’t make sense to you, please don’t take it.

Reading should be fun. We should also enjoy reading our own stories.

By the time, my stories are loaded at the booksellers, I would fiercely disagree with both of these sentences. I would rather gouge my eyeballs out with a fork than re-read my story one more time.

Why?

Because I have already read it dozens of times. Sometimes I’ve read my story four times in the same day. I enjoy my stories but I don’t enjoy any story THAT much.

During Drafts

I read my stories in their entirety after each draft. That’s a given. Flow and emotion build between sentences, paragraphs, scenes are so important. These are best refined with full read throughs.

Editing

But after I send my story to my awesome editor, I only look at the suggested changes, right?

Nope.

I recommend reading the ENTIRE story after each round of edits. It is easy for sentences, paragraphs, scenes to be completely deleted during the editing process. All it takes is a cat walking across the keyboard or incompatible versions of Word or the track changes feature malfunctioning.

It also requires multiple sets of eyes to catch all typos. As writers, our names are on the cover and we’re responsible for the quality of our stories. Not our editors. Not our publishers. We are. Even with three plus rounds of edits and multiple sets of eyes, we won’t find all of the typos but we CAN try.

Formatting

The formatting stage is a dangerous time for our stories. Whether we format our stories ourselves (I don’t) or someone else (including a publisher) does this for us, errors can happen. HUGE errors.

Maybe all fonts disappear. Maybe the wrong writer’s name is on the copyright page (yikes!). Maybe paragraphs are accidentally deleted. A huge New York Publisher once deleted an entire chapter from one of my stories during the formatting process. No one, except me, noticed this.

Again, our names are on the covers so I suggest asking for a final formatted copy of the story before it is loaded at booksellers.

If there are multiple formats, I review each one, verifying that everything is okay. It is a pain in the ass and it takes time but these are our stories. They deserve that time.

Loading At Booksellers

This is another stage where I re-read my stories. I can’t do this when I work with a publisher. I have to trust they have someone completing this task for me (whispers – they usually don’t).

When I am self-pubbing a story, however, I always read the story from first page to the last page after loading it at booksellers. Again, I check links and copyright information and ensure all words are there.

Both Amazon and Smashwords give us options to look at our stories after we load them. We’re not given these options for fun. Booksellers expect us to do exactly this – verify our stories have been loaded correctly and can be read on their eReaders. We can’t test it on every eReader (that would require having every eReader) but at least we can assure ourselves the story works with one eReader, our own.

One of the many reasons I like pre-orders is I can review the stories before they go live, before readers see them. Because, yes, stories can load incorrectly.

When The Story Releases

I also always buy/pre-order copies of my own book and I’ll look at them quickly on release day. I might not have time to fully re-read them (because release days are hectic) but I will scan through the stories, ensure there’s actually a story and the bookseller didn’t send a blank file to reading buddies.

That happens. Frequently. The sooner we catch this issue and tell readers, the less one star reviews we’ll receive for this bookseller error.

At what stages do you re-read your stories? What kind of errors have you caught on re-reads?

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Seeking Vector

A cyborg with a secret… A female seeking the truth…

Vector, the C Model captain of the Freedom, is a cyborg many warriors wish to emulate. He fights fiercely, leads with honor, has earned the respect and loyalty of his crew. But no being, not even a cyborg, is perfect. Since arriving at the Homeland, Vector has been hiding a dark truth about his past. If his secret is exposed, he could lose everything – his position, his ship, and his life.

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