When witnessing other writers advertising their newest release have you ever wondered “How on earth did they write and publish that book so quickly? Why can’t I do the same?”
Well, I hear you! In this wonderful world of social media, we so often see the end result. We see the cover reveals and the author’s glowing smile as they hold their book in their hands, but we don’t always see what goes on behind their closed office doors. We don’t see all the hard work that goes into bringing a manuscript to a publishable standard.
So today, I’m revealing the steps it took for me to write and edit my novella, The Game of Love, which you can check out on my author website!
My Writing and Editing Process
This was my opportunity to tell myself the story. Working from a scene list created during the planning process, I got the first draft down and discovered things about my characters, the story and its themes. As I wrote, I jotted down notes about things I had to change or expand upon in the next draft.
Reading through the entire manuscript, I then addressed the issues identified while writing the first draft. My focus was on nailing character development — a character’s reasons for making decisions and taking a particular course of action is essential for keeping the reader engaged and connected to your character.
Reading through the manuscript for a second time, I made sure everything flowed. I corrected plot issues and tidied up clunky sentences but didn’t waste much time correcting grammar; there wasn’t much point, and you’ll soon see why.
I then sent the manuscript to my beta readers. I had a team of five, made up of romance writers and readers. It’s essential for your beta readers to know the intricacies of your story’s genre so they can easily identify what isn’t working.
Only once I’d received feedback from all five beta readers did I review their notes. This made it easy to see the common issues arising. If more than one reader mentioned something wasn’t working, I paid the issue particular attention. If there was anything else mentioned that I knew deep down should be addressed, I added it to my list of things to address.
Working my way through the manuscript, I then addressed the issues arising from beta reader feedback. The plot and character development were “on point” by the time this draft was completed.
To put things in perspective, The Game of Love required a significant restructure, which meant I ended up re-writing around 50% of the book — now you can see why focusing on grammar early in the drafting process was a waste of time!
At that point, I exported the manuscript to Microsoft Word and read it from start to finish to make sure everything flowed. For this draft, my focus was on grammar and sentence structure. I wanted to make the words sing!
I then recruited my husband to read for me. It was his job to give a final opinion on anything that might need work. And he kept an eye out for any pesky errors I’d missed.
This draft simply involved making final changes according to any issues my husband picked up.
At that point, I read the manuscript from start to finish and was scrupulous about grammar and sentence structure, which is referred to as a line edit.
I then sent the manuscript to a professional editor (yes, even editors need editors!), who performed a copyedit, which involved picking up any grammatical issues I’d missed during line edits, questioning word choices, consistency, and of course, correcting any minor errors. Another (expert) set of eyes was essential!
Once the editor’s notes and corrections came back, I reviewed them and made any necessary changes. This draft was then sent back to the editor so she could review those changes and ensure I hadn’t introduced new errors.
After reviewing the editor’s final notes, I made any necessary corrections.
I uploaded the final polished document to Vellum, the formatting software I use, then proofread on screen, reading from start to finish to ensure the formatting was correct and that there were no elusive errors!
Finally, I printed the formatted manuscript and proofread it on paper. I sat with a highlighter and marked any sentence I stumbled on and noted any word I needed to change or remove in order to make the sentence roll off the tongue. It’s amazing what you can pick up by editing the hard copy! I then went back to Vellum and made those final changes . . .
. . . then opened an enormous bottle of champagne!
If there’s one thing I learned from publishing my first book, it’s that you have to trust the process. And the writing and editing process is not a quick one. So if you feel as if every writer you know is publishing books seemingly overnight, remind yourself of the steps involved in producing quality stories.
Writing and publishing are not for the fainthearted, but through hard work, commitment and dedication to the writing and editing process, you too will be revealing covers and holding your precious book babies in your hands!