I’ve used this analogy before, but I’m bringing it up again because it’s a great simile that explains exactly why children’s authors should edit before hiring a professional — because editing a picture book is just like washing the dishes.
Why Edit Before Hiring a Pro?
Most people rinse their dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, right? In the same way, we should edit before hiring a pro.
Why? Because you want to get your money’s worth when you hire a professional. If you catch a lot of the rookie mistakes before getting it to the editor, they’ll be able to focus on the really important stuff without getting distracted by other avoidable mistakes.
Manuscripts vs. Dishes
Think of your manuscript like an unwashed casserole dish. We’ve all seen this dish in our sinks at one point or another — it’s got cheese crusted on the sides, burnt veggie scraps, and grease galore.
It’s the dish we all avoid washing until the very last second, because it’s hard to wash and usually needs multiple passes to get it clean.
I think you see where I’m going…
Though your manuscript is surely more enticing than this casserole dish, it will need multiple passes. To reach its potential, you must edit before hiring. You’ll need to rinse, scour, and scrub. Then, you’ll still want to run it through the dishwasher for good measure.
I want to be clear on this, though — every manuscript needs this treatment. Whether you’re a first-time writer or a decorated bestseller, your first draft will always need the dishwashing method of editing.
But don’t let the fact that your story needs editing weigh you down. It’s normal. As a matter of fact, it’s recommended. No matter what your casserole dish looks like, it’s founded in a beautiful, oven-safe, crystal clear idea. Editing is just how we get it to really shine.
You CAN do this!
Pre-Edit & Save on Your Budget:
Editing Checklist for Children's Books
How to Edit Before Hiring a Pro
Step 1: Rinse (The Big Picture)
First, we’ll edit before hiring by rinsing off your manuscript and taking a bird’s-eye view. We want to make sure we get any big, clunky concerns out of the way before digging into the good stuff.
You’ll want to look out for things like…
Is the target audience clear?
Is my story appropriate for that age group?
Is my main character the hero of the story?
And so on.
Step 2: Scour (Looking Closer)
Now it’s time to scour. This is usually the “edit before hiring” phase that writers have the hardest time with. It may feel painful at first, but trust me, all the elbow grease will be completely worth it when you see the final product glisten.
Look for edits such as…
Does every character contribute to the story?
Are all of the events necessary?
Is there any filler content I can remove?
Step 3: Scrub (Copy Editing)
We’re finally ready to scrub! Let’s give the manuscript a final clean and edit before hiring by making sure everything is where it needs to be:
Is the spelling correct?
Finally, you can repeat this process until you’ve landed on a draft you’re proud of. And since you’ve decided to edit before hiring, you can confidently present your manuscript to a pro (and get your money’s worth).