Editing and Revising Your Book

This is always a hard process for most authors. If you are ready for copyediting, that is another discussion. What I am talking about is the process before you send it to a copyeditor. You’ve finished writing your book. What is the next step? Revision and editing is the next step.

You need to make your book as good and as perfect as you can before you send it to a copyeditor. Going back through your book might mean you change a word here or there to make a bigger impact. Fix a sentence here or there. Is that all?

No, actually that is often only the beginning. A fellow author, Holly Lisle, often says in her blogs on writing: “Think bigger!”

Hopefully, you’ve written down some of the things that I ask writers to do BEFORE THEY WRITE. Answer these questions:

  • Why are you writing this book?
  • What do you hope will happen as a result of your book?
  • What do you envision this book to be?

So, the next step in revising and editing your book is to see if this book answers these questions:

  • Why did you write the book?
  • Does the book meet your expectations that you had before writing?
  • Do you know what you want the book to be once you’ve revised it?

These are major items to ponder. If your book doesn’t meet your expectations before you revise it, then your work in doing the revisions needs to be a completely different job than merely fixing some punctuation and making a few words stronger. Often during the revision process, there is a tendency to get disgusted with the process and begin to think the book is junk and you just want to throw it away.

Don't THROW your manuscript away!

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What happens is that since we’re done with the writing process, we suddenly think the book should be perfect and sound like our most favorite author. It probably doesn’t, but that isn’t necessarily a sign that we should trash the book! Hopefully, your book is uniquely yours and doesn’t read like some other author’s work. Think “bigger!” What is the real reason that you are considering trashing the book?

Once you understand how the book does or does not meet your original ideas about the book, you will be better prepared to revise and edit your book. Usually, you do not need to make a complete overhaul of your book. On the other hand, there are times when your book would benefit being Content Edited or Developmentally Edited, which means that the book is evaluated and possibly restructured. If you are working with a book coach, in a class, have an agent, or with a traditional publisher, this sort of editing may be included in the services. There are independent editors that do Content or Developmental Editing, as well.

Revision work can be time consuming, but it is a necessary part of the writing process. It is true that most published books have errors in them, but the goal of a writer is to try to write the best and most perfect book possible. Just don't beat yourself up for the errors after you've published the book.

For the perfectionist, if you use an on-demand printer, you can usually upload a corrected version. It may mean your book is not available for a few days.

Many writers have beta readers. Beta readers are simply friends, family, and fellow writers that you trust to read your book and give you feedback. Many writers belong to writing groups or enrolled in classes where feedback is given along the way. Getting feedback early in your writing can often be helpful, because then, you might be able to fix a problem in your story – plot or characters. If you learn this early on, it often prevents a huge re-organization of your novel.

If you are going the traditional publishing route, be prepared to re-write your book for every agent and every editor you work with. The one drawback to this is that too often various feedback and multiple rewrites can leave your manuscript too sterile.

Happy Writing!

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