I was asked a while back to discuss what my editing process looks like when it comes to writing a book and getting it ready for publication. But in order to answer this I felt that I’d also need to discuss my writing process beforehand in order to make some sense of it.
Disclaimer: Each and every writer has a method to their writing that works for them. There isn’t one that’s better than the other which allows us writers to really own our style as we see fit. Because like with all good things, there is no one size fits all.
During my writing process I and definitely a planner! Or plotter? Whatever it’s called now, I’m the kind of writer that will create a bare bones timeline for what I want to have happen in my story before I actually sit down to write it. This can consist of mostly the major plot points of the book and it gives me a more visual representation of where I can fit in additional scenes throughout the book so things are less messy.
Afterwards I’ve held myself back long enough and I’m off! Writing to my hearts content until anything I’ve wanted to happen - or anything that’s come up along the way - finds it’s way onto the pages in a glorious mess that is Draft One.
One thing I want to say before I go any further. When it comes to drafting, your first one is always going to have faults and be messy and sometimes downright sucks - THATS OKAY! This just means that you have somewhere to start in the editing process. Can’t fix what doesn’t exist right? Right? So don’t be too hard on yourself if the first draft isn’t perfect - it’s never meant to be.
Once the first draft is done - this can take anywhere from a few weeks to a month or so - I go over the whole book and find places I can improve. I’ve taken to avoid calling my manuscript “done” or “finished” especially when I’m in the early stages of the writing process because I never feel that it’s reached that point yet.
At this point I’ll make sure that any of the additional scenes I’ve wanted to add along the way can still fit now that the manuscript has changed over time; which happens more often than you know. This allows me to include what I like to call “fluff” scenes. Scenes that don’t necessarily have that much of an impact in the whole storyline but do offer their own kind of importance by helping to develop a character more or showing more depth in one scene where there wasn’t one before. These can sometimes become some of the more favourite scenes for my readers I’ve found. Which in and of itself amazes me every single time because of how close that scene came to not being included at all in the final draft.
Once the fluff has been added and I feel well and truly like I’ve done all I can do in my power, I go over the manuscript one more time and correct any obvious mistakes and typos before I send it off to my trusted readers who will have the chance to read the manuscript in all its unedited glory.
This process can normally take anywhere from a few days to a week or so for them to get my manuscript back to me. I prefer to have more than one person looking over my manuscript because I’ve found that three pairs of eyes are better than one. And where one will notice a sentence fragment, one might notice a gap in the storyline instead so I have a better chance at getting the most out of my feedback.
While I wait, I normally take this time to work on my query letters and book pitch so that I can begin submitting them to potential literary agencies and publishers in the hopes that someone will find my pitch worthwhile.
Afterwards I dive into edits and spend the next few hours/days deep inside my manuscript going over it time and again until the edits are done and it’s as close to perfection.
Once we’re at this stage however it all becomes a waiting game. For my debut novel ‘The Next Right Thing’ I waited patiently for feedback from agencies and publishers for about two/three months before I’d had enough and went the self-publishing route - which I’ll never regret doing. It’s at this time that one can either wait to hear back from agencies and publishers to get that long awaited ‘Yes’ or choose to take matters into their own hands. But that all comes down to the writer themselves.
There are also plenty of paths a writer can be taken down when at this stage. Some may get feedback but not an exact 'yes' from an agency and therefore be required to make some edits before they re-submit their manuscript.
The only advice I can give at this particular stage of the game is to go easy on yourself. Those rejections will come in, they always do. But they aren't all horrible. I'm sure I've said this before but its worth mentioning again. Every single rejection I've ever gotten, every one, was positive. No one bashed my work or questioned my capability to be a writer, so please don't believe that every single rejection will be negative and harmful in nature. I'm not discounting the fact that those do exist, but more often then not, publishers and agencies want you to better yourself and not lose faith in what you are trying to do.
So keep at it.
All the best,