Saturday, March 5, 2011

Paperless vs. Print Happy?

I have a confession to make.

Today I'm doing something I've never done before.

I'm printing out my entire novel so that I can edit in hard copy.

Considering this is my third attempt at a novel, trying out this editing strategy is long overdue.

I waited so long because I'm slightly stingy (printer ink is expensive!) and I hate the idea of sacrificing practically a whole tree for the sake of a novel that may never be published.

But this time I'm determined to be more HOPEFUL (read: confident) when beginning my querying process. And I'm also determined to make this manuscript the best it can be, even if that means spending some extra money on printer ink this month.

I know a lot of you already print out your manuscripts in those final stages of editing. But tell me, did you ever have qualms about this method? Has it worked well for you? Do any of you still choose the paperless  route?


  1. I always do this - amazing how many typos i find that i didn't staring at a computer screen.

  2. I find I relate to paper in a whole different way than the computer screen. Its a must to print it out for me even though that copy inevitably always ends up in the recycle bin. Anytime I haven't done this, I've missed something.

  3. I am in complete agreement with the above comments. I go back and forth between computer and paper. I'll print out my work probably 3 or 4 times at the least before I'm done.

  4. It's part of the cost of being a writer ... I edit better on paper and although I do save minor versions on the computer, for any major overhauls I print out the whole thing. Granted, I'm a short story writer primarily, so it's not as expensive, but I feel the burn every time I've printed out a draft of a novel.

    Just plant a tree!

  5. Amy, I prefer to edit on paper and then make my revisions on the computer. It may be the years of being a teacher and marking papers, but I see and hear where my mistakes are better when I read it out loud off paper. When I get critiques in I print off a copy and then pull up all the critiques on the computer and go through each critique one at a time with my hard copy and work in the suggestions that I agree with....You know that so far my longest finished piece is an early chapter book which is a lot less than a novel, but I expect I would use the same strategy.

    Happy reading!

  6. hardcopy is a fantastic method once you've got most the major editing out the way. It's amazing how many things you'll pick up this way :) good luck!

    The Arrival, on Amazon now

  7. I printed my third draft, and I'll probably print my sixth or seventh.

  8. Amy, I think there is NO way to properly revise a book on the computer screen! I can safely say mine would have never gotten published had I not printed it many times.

    I would strongly advise a laser printer - an $85 cartridge lasts me for 6,000 copies, and the printer itself was quite cheap ... and of course I reuse the paper to print the next draft on the other side. And then use the paper to start fires in my woodstove.

  9. I single space my novel for printing. it saves a LOT of paper.
    Read it as though it was written by an author you love. Use very few edit makrs. Circle and ? for things you want to go back to

  10. I am so thoroughly convinced now, it's not even funny.

    The recycle bin or some other form of recycling is a good idea. :)

    I have it printed now -- on both sides of the paper -- and since I used the draft setting it didn't use as much ink as I was expecting.

    Thanks for all the comments, everyone! :)


  11. Okay, I'm going to be the odd man out and say I've never printed off a whole manuscript for the sole purpose of editing it. I just haven't been able to justify the expense. I hate - no, I really hate - spending money. (My husband has to drag me to the mall.)

    I do mess with the font and stuff so I can see my manuscripts in a different way, and I think hard-copy editing is a worthy endeavor. Good luck with it, Amy. Maybe someday... :)

  12. Amy, after I edit my draft on paper I put it in a pile for the kids to use. They love to draw and draw and draw, that way I feel like they get to draw and I haven't "wasted" paper either. =)

  13. I print my manuscript when it's ready for that final polish--sometimes earlier. I don't know why, but I can catch/see errors I missed when I edited it on the screen.

    I DO feel guilty when I print lots of pages, but I still do it. One of my friends has a printer that prints front and back--not for submissions, but for editing. That's one way to save paper. Also, I use cheaper paper when I'm printing for myself; I save the good stuff for submissions.

  14. I'm currently editing the first three chapters of my memoir in hard copy and it is making a huge difference! I'm not sure what it is, but I see the text differently, I think more bravely about moving chunks around and deleting (swipe of the pen is satisfying; deleting letters with a keystroke, depressing). And I'm adding better dialogue, somehow the part of the brain that thinks in speech is more activated when I'm not typing on a screen. So I think that's a fantastic plan. :)