Hi, everyone! Today I’m going to be talking about my editing process. I briefly discussed this in an Instagram post when I was posed the question not too long ago, but I thought it might be neat to recap it here and possibly go into a little more depth.
To start off with, I just wanted to remind you that this is the way I go about things. My way isn’t the end all, be all way, nor am I going to try to encourage you to change your own editing process to fit mine. Every writer goes about editing a different way, and you have to discover what process works best for you. 🙂
To start out with, I obviously have to have a completed manuscript. Once I’ve finished my manuscript, I like to let it sit for a little while. How long to let a manuscript sit before you come back to work on it really depends on the author. Normally I like to let my manuscript sit for 2-4 weeks, unless of course I’m 1) on a deadline and need to start revisions sooner, or 2) I’m working on a duology. I’ve discovered that when I’m working on a duology, if there’s a way for me to, I’ll let my manuscript of book one sit until I complete the manuscript of book two; then I can edit them together and make sure I don’t have any discrepancies with details or my story timeline. For the purposes of me explaining my editing process to you, though, we’ll just assume this is a standalone book to make my explanations simpler.
After letting my draft sit, I go through it with my eyes only. I don’t let anyone else look over it until I’ve had the first chance to comb through it. Some authors like to break up their edits into multiple drafts. For example, maybe they’ll read through and fix any plot holes in one draft, then read back through and fix character inconsistencies in the second draft, then go through and fix story world details in the third draft, and so on.
I am a horrible overachiever and like to tackle all of those things the first time I read back through my manuscript. This means I go through and look at plot, characterization, story setting, details, inconsistencies, sentence structure, and overall grammar all in the second draft. Sometimes this makes things overwhelming, and yes, often times I miss something that I have to go back and change or add or fix later. However, it’s the way I like to go about things, especially since once I finish, I hand my newly edited draft off to beta readers.
I currently have two beta readers, although this will probably change soon since two of them are starting college stuff. 😦 But they are fantastic, and I’d love for you to note that if you take nothing else from this post, please understand that having great beta readers is vital to making your story the best it can be. I’m going to write a post on having a great support group for your writing soon, so I won’t go into too much detail here, but just know that beta readers are phenomenal, when they do their jobs right. With my beta readers, I send them my second draft to look through. If possible, I’ll give them a deadline on when to have their thoughts back to me. Also, if I don’t want them to read through it and just give me general thoughts, I’ll compile a list of things for them to specifically look for (ex. “In what chapter do you really connect and care for each character?”, “I added in a plot twist toward the end. Does it work for the story or do you think it takes away from the plot?”, “Should I cut Chapter 16 or leave it in?”, etc.) and give me their thoughts on those particular things.
Once I get thoughts back from my two beta readers, I’ll look through their input and decide what I want to do based on that. Another important thing to note here is that while beta reader input is invaluable to your story, you’re still the boss. They can only make suggestions on how to better your plot/characters/world/scenes, but the final changes are up to you. You aren’t required to change anything that they’ve mentioned. That being said, they are offering you ideas and input that you may have not thought of before, or they could be alerting you to weak scenes or dialogue bits in your book that really do need to be reworked. Remember that you’re the boss, but don’t act like you know better than they do.
Once I’ve changed what I’ve wanted to based on beta reader input, I’ll also check for any other sentence structure or grammar problems before giving it to my husband. My husband is fantastic in that he’s very nit-picky and hardcore when it comes to editing. Some days it makes me want to smack him, but most of the time, I’m just thankful that I have him. (Love you, babe!) He may get on my nerves with suggestions or changes sometimes, but he also pushes me to make my writing the best it can be. He doesn’t want me to half-ass anything, and neither do I, so he pushes me to be better and better. And once all of the changes are made that he suggests (normally related to sentence structure or an inconsistency in the details or story world that I may have missed), I’ll go back through to look at grammar and typos one more time.
After all of that, I deem my book publishing worthy and move onto the self-publishing process on Amazon, as well as coming up with marketing strategies and goals to hype the book up. 🙂
Do you have any questions for me about my editing process or beta readers or anything? Please feel free to share your editing process below!