How to Spring Clean Your Manuscript

After a crazy winter, spring has finally arrived! Besides the warmer weather and longer days, there is another reason I love spring — it is the perfect season to produce fresh works of art. For some writers, this might mean starting a brand new project. For others, dusting off an old manuscript might be just the ticket.

If you have abandoned works rotting on the vine, don’t let them go to waste! Dig them out and see if a little spring cleaning is all they need. Follow these steps to freshen up your manuscript for spring self-publishing:

  • Awaken. It’s time to wake up and reassess that long-dormant manuscript. You may remember it as either utterly brilliant or complete rubbish (although I suspect if you considered it literary gold, you’d have self-published it by now). All writers feel one of those extremes about their own work just after completing it, and it’s almost never as good or bad as they think. Bring it out of deep freeze and give it one more chance.
  • Sow. Dig into each page like you’re reading it for the first time — and leave no stone unturned. Set aside whatever feelings or impressions you once had about your manuscript and look at it with fresh, new eyes. You’ll be much more objective about it now that time has passed. Pretend it’s someone else’s work, if that helps. You may find strokes of genius you didn’t recognize before.
  • Prune. Of course, along with unearthing forgotten brilliance, you’ll likely also find your fair share of thorny passages that inspire “What was I thinking?” moments. Time to yank the weeds and trim back “overgrowth” in your manuscript. Be merciless: This is one time when heavy spring pruning is OK.
  • Plant. Fill in the “bald patches” – elements of your story that require elaboration, such as further plot and character development. This is where you may choose to replant ugly, unhealthy portions that you pulled earlier.
  • Fertilize. Cultivate a plan to nurture those parts of your book that are weakest. Sprinkle it generously with notes about what changes you need to make as you review and review again; gradually, your writing and your overall story will grow more lush.
  • Cross-pollinate. Read the works of others. See a good movie, or listen to your favorite music. Exchange ideas with other writers. The idea is to borrow inspiration that will better inform your book.
  • Reap. Once all your efforts have born fruit in the form of a juicy new manuscript, take your product to market! There are surely plenty of readers who are hungry for what you have to offer.

Fresh eyes and a few good brainstorms may produce all the fertile ideas you need to turn that literary spring cleaning project into a sizzling summer read. Good luck!

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.

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