Lately on Twitter I’ve been seeing a lot of discussion about the writing process, how people go about the actual labor of constructing the book, and how authors revise, edit, and prep their book for submission or self publication. I know I do things a little differently from a lot of other writers, so I though I’d take some time to walk you guys through my personal process. This will be a multi-part series running on Fridays through March and April. I hope you find it interesting, and if you have any questions about any part, please feel free to leave a comment! You can find the earlier parts here.
Edit 1: Outside Feedback
It is always the author’s choice to follow or not follow the suggestions of critique, but it’s always best to pick beta readers, critique partners, and editors based on their experience and skill.
Beta readers are 1st round readers who are looking mainly at how enjoyable the book is. Did it make sense? Did they like the characters? Were they confused by the action at the climax? They can be fellow authors, or just readers who enjoy a good book and are good at having intelligent discussions about them and what does or doesn’t work.
Critique partners are fellow authors, usually at your own skill level, who are looking deeper into the craft. Not just what works and what doesn’t, but why. They are reading like writers, and making suggestions based on their own experience. They can be involved at any stage of the process. I have one CP who is looking for feedback on an unfinished manuscript, and another who has completed the first two books in a series. I usually like to have a full draft before I send it to them. It usually isn’t as polished as it would be if i were submitting it, but I try to make sure there aren’t any glaring errors, either.
Editors are paid professionals and can look at everything from big picture developmental stuff to line edits and formatting.
No matter which of these options you choose (and I recommend at least one of each), you do have to be pretty bullet proof, especially the first few times you open yourself up to feedback.
These people aren’t here to stroke your ego, but all criticism should be both polite and constructive. If it isn’t, you can disregard it, and find someone else to work with next time.
Sometimes the feedback you get means going back to revision 1, completely restructuring the book, cutting out entire sections and rewriting new chapters. Other times, it’s as simple as adding a few sentences of clarification and fixing some grammatical problems.
Repeat the revision and editing steps as many times as you feel are necessary. Swap first pages or first chapters with other writers. Volunteer to read or have your opening critiqued by fellow members of your writing group. Get someone other than yourself and your mom to read the book.
Edit 2: Final
This is the last call. The final read through, where I put in the last bits of formatting.
From here, the process diverges. Some books I know from the start will be self-published, and once I do my part I send it off to Ash, who handles my cover art and formatting, as well as giving it a final read through to look for anything I might have missed.
If I’m going to query, pitch, or enter a contest, then it’s time to start setting up my submission package.
Like what you see? Check out Things to do while waiting for #Pitchwars or Query responses