Good morning Scribes and Scribettes. PJ Sharon here, writing from deep in the edit cave. I thought it might be useful to share an Indie’s perspective on the editing process. It’s about seven weeks until the launch of my next book and the pressure is on.
I received my final set of edits from Carol, my super-editor who looks at everything from plot holes, inconsistencies, and characterization, to misplaced modifiers, repetitive sentence structure and comma placement. She is very thorough and brutally honest. She gives me fantastic feedback that at first makes me grumble and sometimes even cry in frustration at my own lameness as a writer. But then I realize that her suggestions are right on the money and that I would do well to listen.
Her best advice in the end for WESTERN DESERT: “Paula, if you can learn to write sentences that do not rely on “this” and “that” but are specific and vivid, your writing will improve enormously!”
You’ve got to love English teachers!
Carol’s straightforward approach makes me continue to grow as a writer and I am eternally grateful for her as a resource and a friend. But everyone’s view point is limited so I am going through another round of edits on my own, employing her suggestions, layering in details that will enrich the story, and developing more deeply, the character arcs. By this point, I’ve also run the entire manuscript through an editing program called Auto-crit which gives me reports about overused words, repetitive phrases, clichés, and much more. I could make myself crazy with it, but I’ve learned to use it to catch those pesky bad habits we all have (55 occurrences of the word “that” in one chapter, please remove about 34 occurrences). Eeek! Using the program helps me to see where stronger verbs and more vivid language are needed.
Next–as in today–I’ll hand the book over to editor #2, Jane. I feel like this round of edits is what fine-tunes the story, bringing it to life on the page and cleaning house on all the picky details like grammar, punctuation, and overall flow. Don’t get me wrong; Jane will also catch me on plot points that need clarifying, missed opportunities to deepen character, and stilted dialogue. She, too, is extremely thorough and honest—two necessary traits for a great editor.
When Carol and Jane are done red-penning my baby to death, and I’ve done my level best to write a compelling and entertaining tale, I’ll send the manuscript to Createspace for print copies.This step takes a week to ten days (usually less), so I use this time to work on marketing and promo plans. Initially, I can only buy four copies since I haven’t approved the final at that point. I give two of these copies to Beta readers (avid readers with a keen eye for what works in a story and what doesn’t), and send the other two copies to reviewers. Most of the big review sites require copies several months in advance of release, but it won’t hurt to send one to Publisher’s Weekly and hope for the best. This is also the time I will send the e-version in PDF format to on-line review sites. I have a yearly subscription to Author EMS, a website that pre-filters a list of reviewers perfect for my book. It’s a lot of work querying and sending out requested material, but I think it’s worthwhile. (I’d love to find an assistant to do these types of tasks for me).
Once I receive all the feedback from my Beta readers, (I usually give them a week or so), I make one more pass, considering their suggestions as I go. I’m usually still adding layers, sharpening dialogue, and looking for ways to weave the underlying themes throughout the story—basically putting the fine brush strokes on the final picture. Then it goes back to Createspace and I get a few more copies. I give one to a Proof reader, and the others I use as review copies. After the final proof read and final corrections, it goes to my husband for formatting. Although I’ve gotten pretty good at it myself, he is much more patient than I am and is meticulous with all of that awful detail and computer savviness. I approve it on Createsapce and order print copies, 30-50 to start, and upload to Amazon, BN, and Smashwords.
Viola! We have a book. The hardest part of this entire process is all of the other work that is supposed to happen simultaneously, such as planning a launch party, marketing the other books, and preparing my social media strategy for getting the word out. Obviously, I need to get back to work!