My Editing Process: From First Draft to Published Book

Two weeks ago I posted about my writing process. I said that the first draft usually takes me about three months to finish. Editing is usually a bit faster. Depending on the type of editing I’m doing, it takes me anywhere from two weeks to two months. So I could potentially produce a new novel in about six months.

Once the first draft is done, I have a mini-celebration. I take a day off from writing. Work on something else for a week or two. Write a short story or draft ideas for your next novel. But I give myself some time away from it. Once I’ve been separated from the text for some time, I print it out and make edits longhand with a pen. This allows me to work anywhere, maybe take the manuscript to work and edit a bit on my lunch break. It also tricks my eyes into thinking it’s a new text and I’ll pick up more typos that way.

Plotting The Knight Before
Plotting The Full Moon

This type of editing usually takes me a month or two. This is where I mark up the margins, rewrite entire scenes or pages. The first draft of The Blood Moon featured Alicia, who was a friend of Holly’s. In subsequent edits, I wrote her out of the book and introduced Drew significantly earlier. These were major changes that took me some extra time to edit. I’m sure not every novel will be like that.

After the longhand edits are done, I immediately jump back into editing from the beginning, making the changes I marked on the printed manuscript. During this second round of editing, I make even more changes as needed. Sometimes I feel like a new scene here or there will help show the importance of an event later in the book. Sometimes during the first draft I glossed over an event or reaction that should’ve been a bigger event. This second round is where I add those parts.

Once I’m done going through the second round of edits, I go back and make structural changes I’ve noted throughout each round of edits. This is mostly to check for consistency. She says it’s November here and only two months have passed and yet it’s April. Or making sure the character’s back story lines up with what they’ve been saying all along. This was especially difficult with my first series because what I said in The Blood Moon determined what happened in The Full Moon and The Harvest Moon.

Once I’ve finished these edits, I contact my editor and schedule a time to have her look it over. While I wait for the scheduled time and wait for her to deliver it, I work on other stuff. First draft of a new novel, editing a short story, etc. When my editor returns my manuscript, I go through each of her suggested changes and accept or deny them. This process is tedious, but actually pretty fast. I try not to add anything else during this stage for fear that I’ll create new typos or inconsistencies.

After I finish her edits, I format and contact my beta readers to read it over before I finalize the text and publish. It’s a long and hard process, but I feel as though it’s effective. Of course, the more you write and edit, the cleaner your first draft will be. That’s not to say that you should skip any of these steps (not that these are the hard-fast rules for writing and editing) but each step will hopefully move faster as a result of working with better writing.

I hope this post helped you determine what is best for you when it comes to editing. Feel free to leave a comment and tell me about your editing process.

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