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Thursday, 27 February 2014

Let's talk about Editing.

I'm not one to write advisory articles on the art of writing, I don't consider myself experienced enough, yet. However, I'm closer to understanding the process than I was a year ago.

So, Editing - everyone will remind you that 'you must must edit', 'don't produce anything without editing', and of course, they are all quite correct. At least two thirds of these people will tell you NOT to publish until your book is 'Professionally Edited'. If you're in the same position as I am, that is a totally unachievable option, financially.

What I'm really here to talk about is 'Self Editing', of which I know plenty about.

I am one of those writers that will sit and write most of the book first. Then I will go back and start the big 'Editing' process. Once I've had all the fun in the writing, it's time to go on to months and months of editing, re-editing etc. In fact, I'm big on editing, it absolutely must be done many, many times and even then, some more. Why? Because as a self editor, it's the only way you're going to iron out the crinkles.

The writing is really what we all want to do, and it's certainly the part I love to do the most. Yet it plays such a small part in the creation of my books. Editing takes up most of my time, by far. I find there are many different stages to editing, and with each stage the book should be improving from its first draft.

1 - When I first read the entire manuscript, I will only do a few obvious changes ie spelling, punctuation.
2 - I'm a lucky gal and now have a beta reader. This will be the draft that I'll send. It would be great to know many beta readers at this stage. Like everything else, it takes time to find these very precious people who will work with you, just for the sheer joy.
3 - At this point in time, I will leave the manuscript to sit for a while. Time out.
4 - Edit all that the beta reader has fed back to me. Not all beta readers will do the editing role and you may not agree with everything they suggest. That's why it would be good with many beta readers, to compare their notes.
5 - Now comes the electronic editing process. I'm presently using Prowritingaid because yes, you guessed it, it's free if you register. This, for me, is a hardest editing stage. I do a chapter at a time, taking many months. If your short of cash, it's worth it's weight in gold. At the moment, that's as near to 'Professional Editing' that I can get. Again, you may not agree with all it's suggestions, so just ignore some of them. But do look at them all.
6 - Before the next stage you will need to put the manuscript down for a couple of weeks if you can. then go back and read the whole manuscript again. This is your last chance to do any major changes ie changes to plot, check your facts, check for those inconsistencies. You could even send it back to a beta reader, if you have many.
7 - Months down the line you are now ready for beginning the publishing stage:-
a - if you haven't already done so, you need that all important title.
b - if you haven't already don so you, need that all important cover.
c - First I download to Createspace on Amazon and just do the paperback. Order a copy to have yet another read. Still time to do changes if necessary.
d - Happy with the hard copy? Time to go over to Amazon Kindle and download a Word copy.  On the one occasion I did my kindle version from Createspace, it was an absolute mess. I always treat these as two different copies. Make sure the two books link, to advertise that it is available in kindle and paperback.
e - Book now officially published, it's time to get 'Marketing'. I would do a bit of marketing before publication, ie informing blogs and sites the date of publication. But, we're not discussing marketing are we.
From hereon you will forever be Marketing and may even go back and do yet more editing. So long as you don't make any major changes, you can still call it edition 1. If you do need to do any major changes, then that's a different tale.


  1. Great post! I also self-edit, for financial and artistic reasons, though I'm also lucky enough to have a group of test readers who give me great insights into what isn't working. My process is very different from yours, but it seems to work well for me. I've developed it over many years of editing my own work and studying editing and revision, and it's very rigorous. And so far I haven't had any complaints from readers about the editing in my books!

    Whether an author hires an editor or not, it's the author's job to be able to competently write and edit a novel by herself. A hired editor can serve as an extra set of eyes to catch things you miss, and can save time (once you've spent the time to find a good one!), but an author should not rely on an editor to do her job for her.

    1. Thanks Kyra for these wise words. I hope to be a little more rigorous with my routine, once I've fully developed it. My own problem with self editing is that after reading my own work so many times, I cannot always see my own errors. I read of writers that manage to find editors who are like minded to themselves, and they make a great team to the creation of the book. I think self editing and self publishing gives us more say on our creation. However, sometimes I would love to be part of a good team.


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