Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The editing process

I get asked a lot what my steps are in regards to edits. What's my process, what software do I use, what demons do I conjure from the dark underworld. No book is perfect, and that includes traditionally published books. They ALL have errors. It's so horrifying to have read your book 900 times, have had it sent to editors and so forth, only to stumble upon errors. But in the author community, we often joke that typos are like roaches. You just can't get rid of them.

But I can tell you that I'm not a one draft writer. If that were the case, I might be pushing out books a lot faster, but I enjoy the revision process. So, here are the steps I take in my publishing adventures!

1. THE FIRST DRAFT. When you see me referring to word count, I'm usually on the first draft of a book. My target word count is 90,000 for every novel, but I typically exceed 100,000. Average word count varies by genre, but many books seem to be going lower. I'm a wordy girl. Sorry.  
Average process time: 1 month.

2. REVISIONS. The second draft has the most work going on, while the next are more or less "heavy edits". During this process, I have added what I call "back-end editing". I will also do this on the first draft. So after writing/editing a few chapters on the computer, I'll go back and edit them on my Kindle. Mostly this is highlighting stilted dialogue or awkward sentences.
Average process time: 1-2 months.

3. FINAL PRE-BETA EDIT. Prior to my book going to betas, I self-edit. I do this maybe two times? The first round I'm using my editing software. I personally use Stylewriter Pro. Then I'll do anywhere from 1-2 Kindle edit.  
Average time: 1 month.

4. BETA READ. During this stage, my manuscript is passed off to a team of beta readers. They will not only provide me specific feedback that I request from them, but they also make any corrections to the manuscript where they find errors, inconsistencies, or sentences/paragraphs that need work. My betas do a fan-freaking-tastic job.  During this time period, I'm usually designing my paperback cover.
Average time: 1 month.

5. POST-BETA EDIT. This is the stage when the betas give me back the manuscript and their feedback. I make corrections as needed, and then review all the detailed feedback I've requested from them. I compare their suggestions and make notes of what I need to work on. The type of feedback varies.  
Average time: 1 month

6. EDITOR. The manuscript goes to the editor and no matter how proud I am to turn in my paper, it bleeds red ink upon return.  If it doesn't bleed, it hasn't been loved hard enough.
Average time: 2-3 weeks.

7. POST-EDITOR REVISIONS. After the manuscript is returned, I review every single correction and suggestion. There's back and forth dialogue between us.  
Average time: 1 week.

8. PROOFREAD. This is the stage where the book goes through a proofread. I will also go through it again using text to speech software. I used to use Natural Reader, but now I've purchased Ivona voices because they sound less robotic. I will also do a final Kindle read.  
Average time: 2 weeks

9. FINAL PROOF REVIEW. I submit my document back to the editor for her girl to do a final proof review.  
Average time: 1-2 weeks

Now, if there's time before publication, I might even read it again. How many times can I read my own book? Well, now you know why it's so important for me to write an engaging story. If I have to read something that many times, it BETTER be entertaining. lol I'm also fortunate that upon publication, if anything has slipped through, that readers will alert me. I make the corrections immediately. So if you were one of the first to purchase a copy of Sterling, for example, there is a revised copy out there. If you manage your kindle and don't see an option to update, you can contact customer service and let them know you want the latest copy and they should be able to help with that.

So if there's anyone who thinks I don't care about my books or I rush through them, then this post should dispel that myth. That's why my books are spaced apart usually 5-7 months. I'm literally working on that book that entire time, and I can guarantee you that I won't publish a book unless I've put my entire heart and soul into it. While I do work with editor deadlines, I will push those dates back if I feel the book is not ready.



Could I kick out books faster? Yes. But one of the processes above will end up being skipped, or you'll end up with a book that is much shorter. I love the revision process only because it allows me to add all those little details readers enjoy, and I feel like once I've gotten to know the characters the first time or two around, I can really "fine tune" them.

I've often made the comparison of publishing to sending your child to school and hoping he makes friends instead of coming home with a black eye.

No matter what happens, I'll love my kid.




Software:
MS Word
Kindle
StyleWriter
Ivona Reader

Now, while I use the above, I wouldn't recommend them. My recommendation to any author is to try out all the different options for yourself and decide what's best for your needs. Not all editing software is the same. Some like Scrivener but I prefer Word. I also use an old version of Word because I find it more user friendly with cleaner conversions.

So, maybe this will help the curious get a peek a the process, or give new authors some direction on processes they can put in place. Every author works differently. Some are first draft writers, some have the betas do the proofing after the editor, so it's whatever works. Betas spot a whole lot of things a professional editor will miss, and vice-versa. This also applies for a proofreader.

If you're an author seeking an editor or proofreader, then shop around. They should have a website, credentials, a client list, testimonials, and prices. Yes, they will cost several hundred to $1000+ depending on the level of editing, your word count, and their price.

And during all the above, I'm designing my own covers, formatting my e-books, and participating in blog tours and giveaways.






What the hell is wrong with me?


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