This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
So, onto business. It's time for stage four, the final polish.
As you might imagine, this means reading through your manuscript again. If you've just completed stage three (close editing), the prospect of reading your book again is probably about as appealing as an appendectomy, but you're still going to have to do it. Sorry.
Yes, there is a spell check on your computer (and you should go ahead and use that first), but there is no substitute for your own intelligence and attention for making your text shine. Plus, spell check won't differentiate between 'harp' and 'herpes' and you really don't want to get those two mixed up…
The trick to the final stage (apart from repeatedly calling it the 'final stage' to try and inject some enthusiasm into your tired and jaded psyche), is to make the book appear new. Or at least, new-ish.
You can print it out and read it in hard copy.
If that isn't possible, or you prefer to edit on-screen, try altering the font type or size to make the text look different.
If you can make yourself do it, reading out loud is a brilliant way to catch clunky sentences, typos and extra words.
Keep in mind that your brain is tricksy and you are battling it. It will read what it expects to see, not what is really there. It will smooth awkward sentences, adjust punctuation and read typos as perfectly-spelled words.
This is also the perfect time to call in a favour from a fellow writer or book-loving friend. A fresh pair of eyeballs (horrid image, sorry) is the ideal mistake-finder. They will also serve as a final check that everything makes sense.