Write a book? You’re not done yet. You’ll need to edit it. But don’t go about it haphazardly. If you have a process, it will ensure the best possible editing and keep you moving to the finish line.
Here’s my process.
Step 1: Write the first draft. This is the fun part, so enjoy!
Step 2: Give it breathing room. I ignore a book at least two or three weeks before starting the editing process. This gives a little distance and makes it possible to come at it with fresh eyes.
Step 3: Read through the book cutting words, fixing tense issues, correcting grammar and spelling, and remedying story problems.
Step 4: Break time! That’s right—get away from the book for a while…again. Do some reading or work on another writing project. Just distance yourself from the book.
Step 5: Grab that book and read through it again, fixing whatever other problems linger. For me, this is typically when I do the heavier lifting.
Step 6: You ought to have it pretty smooth by now, so read through it quickly, looking for more places that need fixing.
Step 7: Get your writing and editing friends to read it. If they’re willing, have them suggest edits and point out holes in the story or character development.
Step 8: Take their suggestions for what they’re worth. The book is yours, so you have the final say. But if you’re going to totally ignore what other people say about the book, there is no reason to get them involved.
Step 9: Read your book again. Yes, it seems excessive, but I guarantee there are still problems with it.
Step 10: Find an editor who you’ve got to pay to edit your book. Send over your manuscript and get ready to wait. Your book is certainly your top priority, but your editor is likely busy on other projects. Besides, you don’t want your book returned in a day, as that means it took a single day to be edited.
Step 11: Review the edits, incorporate the ones you find useful, then give it a final read on your own. This one should be a fun reading, just letting the story carry you along. Of course, if you see problems, fix them. Otherwise, keep moving!
Step 12: Take it away! Plan to pitch to an agent? This is the time. Want to go about the publishing process on your own? It’s ready to go. Now you just need to find a cover artist and someone else who can lay the book out for you.
Step 13: Celebrate! Then go tell folks about your book!
Once you hit this final step, things get difficult. At least for me. Because the fun part in my perspective is everything leading to publication. The rest is marketing. While I don’t mind spreading the word about someone else’s great stuff, tooting my own tiny horn makes me uncomfortable. Not that I don’t do a little tooting, but I typically avoid a hard sell, because—well, there are too many books out there to insist someone NEEDS to read my books. No one necessarily needs to read my books. Would they enjoy them? Benefit from them? Hopefully. And when that happens, I chalk it up as mission: accomplished.