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How to edit your own work

The art of self-editing 

Self-editing your own work is a skill that, once mastered, can make or break a book. This newsletter spotlights key advice on editing and includes opportunities for members to get help turning the red pen on your work. Enjoy! 

WEBINAR: Call out for extracts to be workshopped live (FREE for members)


Members can submit a chunk of their work-in-progress to be workshopped by Harry Bingham in the upcoming webinar on ‘Self-Editing with Eels’. Harry will edit members' work live in this webinar on 28 October. 




MASTERCLASS: Self-Editing Part One (FREE for members) 

This three-part masterclass from our own Debi Alper delves into the essentials of self-editing that she covers in her bestselling tutored course.  



BLOG: The rewriter's journey (new!) 

New York Times bestselling author, John David Mann shares his experiences editing and rewriting his first novel, Steel Fear (2020). 


WEBINAR: In conversation with author Alice Oseman (FREE for members) 

19 October 2020. Super-excited for this one. Join us as we chat to author Alice Oseman about her unique experience becoming a bestselling author of novels, graphic novels and webcomics.  



How whiteboards have saved every one of my books 

Learning to self-edit has been a decade-long trial-by-fire for me. I remember sitting at my desk pulling out my hair – knowing that something was wrong with my book, but having no exact idea what that was, or how to fix it.  

And then I got bought a whiteboard for Christmas. I don’t remember why now – perhaps as a joke? Or perhaps just because I was at university at the time and that’s the kind of thing you might find on a student’s wall. But it ended up revolutionising the way I edit my work.  

When I come across a problem now, I stand up and write it down on a whiteboard. I’ll then pace, ask myself questions out loud and write the answers down on the board too. Maybe in a different coloured pen (oof). I’ll write what I DO know and stand back and look at it as a whole.  

Maybe this has something to do with me being a visual thinker. Maybe I think better on my feet. Or maybe it just feels nice to be doing something other than pulling out my hair. But whatever it is, I now can’t edit a book without a whiteboard. 

Do you use whiteboards? Is there something else that helps you work through a problem that refuses to fix itself any other way? Sign up for free and share in the Townhouse here.  

Sarah J x 

Plus, don’t miss: 

How to Write a Novel – now in paperback! 

Our third title with our publisher hat on has now landed as a paperback. This intensely practical and funny guide will take you through everything you need to do write a book to be proud of in 2020. 

Self-Edit Your Novel tutored course bursary now open 

Entries are now open for the already sold-out Self-Edit Your Novel tutored course in January with Debi Alper. All under-represented writers are invited to apply for this free place.  

Manuscript Assessment  (Discounts available for members) 

Our most popular editorial service matches you to your dream editor and gives you tailored feedback on your work. It doesn’t get better than that. 

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Comments (1)
  • Hi Sarah,

    I can’t use whiteboards because I’ll allergic to the scent of the pens.

    As I tend to be a bit of a coalmine-canary with these things, it might be worth keeping a window open if you’re using those pens a lot.

    But I recently discovered (total technophobe) how to change the background colour in MS Word.

    Now, I’m dyslexic so the differences might not be as great for everyone, but I’ve found changing from a white background to a purple-ish-beige has improved my writing speed and made it easier to spot mistakes.

    I am in total agreement with the room pacing. For plotting/planning, I pace and make notes on a Dictaphone.

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