How to Write a Book: Part III
Many people have the inspiration within them to share their story or knowledge and write a book, envisioning that it'll reach the vast corners of the earth and make a meaningful impact on mankind. This post is the 3rd of a multi-part blog series that explains the nitty-gritty aspects of the writing (and editing!) process for anyone who is looking to craft a novel and get it published.
I don't know about you... but I cringe even just at the word "editing", as if my hopes and dreams will automatically shatter on the floor at the thought of changing anything about my latest masterpiece. Change WHAT, you say?!?! Editing, however, is a necessary evil that all good authors and writers should go through, and even more than one time. Stop screaming... it will be okay. We'll get through this.
Picture it though... you've just reached your 60,000 word count goal and typed "The End", it's formatted in the book template with just the right type-face, and the book cover artist has returned beautifully crafted covers that exceeded your expectations. It's not the end though, is it?
This is where the rubber meets the road, where your passion may fail, and you focus on your "why" that we talked about in the earlier blogs. The editing process can be brutal, especially for first-time authors. I'll cover what to expect during the whole editing process and what my experience has been, which will hopefully help prepare your expectations and minimize your editorial fears.
As someone who has written multiple screenplays and books (both non-fiction and fiction), I'm tying together years of experience, education, and knowledge in this blog series to help future authors also attain that sense of satisfaction that comes with completing a book after months (or sometimes years) of effort. As in the earlier blog posts in this series, I will burst your bubble upfront and say that very rarely is writing books ever a get-rich-quick scheme. #sorz It takes lots of time and effort - and editing is just one piece of the writing puzzle. I've broken the puzzle pieces down into the following four segments:
Preparation: "Easy Tips to Start Writing A Book"
Writing: "How to Write a Book: Part II"
Editing: "How to Write a Book: Part III"
Publishing: not published yet
Not that I think anyone would jump ahead to editing... but just in case for the overachievers, please make sure to read the first 2 blog posts in this series to gain an understanding of anything I might reference from them. With the bookkeeping out of the way, let's talk editing.
Here are the top 5 real-life author tips and suggestions on getting through the editing process:
Make a Backup Copy Once a manuscript is finished and has reached the editing stage, I usually save it with a "_version1-date". When the manuscript is sent back from the editor, I automatically update that to say "_version2-date". Once I make changes and send it back, I update that again to say "_version3-date". This little naming schema easily tells me just by looking at the computer file directory, how far along in the process the book is, and gives a timeline for the different versions. The worst thing you could do is to use the same name and overwrite files each time... because on version 7 you may wish you had that one particular paragraph from version 2. Find a naming schema that works for you, but make backup copies of your manuscripts during editing.
Consider more than 1 Editor Some publishing houses will assign you an editorial team... don't be scared!! This is a good thing! Imagine if while editing your latest romance novel, your sole editor had a fight with their significant other the night before. Might their view be tainted reading about the first blush of love? Personally, I use a team of editorial grammar nerds (I say that with love), with the hopes that more heads are better than one. Usually each person on the team will catch something different or offer different suggestions or ideas. Why? Because it's all their opinions and we each get one.
Stock your wine cabinet After sending your manuscript off to the editorial team, it will feel like each passing day is an eternity. I try to use this time wisely. This is the time to take a break, go for a walk outside to get inspired for your next book (did I just say that?!). Find ways to stay occupied and r.e.l.a.x! Writing can be mentally challenging and you've done the work. Take pride in knowing that you finished a BOOK! That puts you in a very small percentage of the world's population. So kick back, pour a glass of your favorite red, and put your feet up. You'll hear back soon enough.
Listen to feedback with an open mind This part is hard, but listen to the editors' comments with an open mind. In my writing career, typically editors and reviewers will go through and make comments, and then you'll meet to discuss and go through all of the comments. Get a strong coffee ready beforehand. I'll usually just listen and take notes on what is being said, biting my lip and trying not to have strong reactions or opinions. Editorial feedback is so crucial and vital to becoming a better author. Be prepared and know that it's totally acceptable to ask clarifying questions. For example, if you're unsure why certain suggestions are made, ask questions about what led them to think that way and get examples. Get to the root of the reason why they feel that change is needed and address that.
It's your book After the hours-long meeting with the editorial team, remember that it's your book. Ultimately, you are the author and it's your name that will be on the cover. More likely than not, you'll be able to take creative freedoms from the editorial comments. After my editorial meetings, I'll sit and stew for a couple of days letting the initial shock settle, and then slowly start to go through the comments deciding what I think will add to the story overall. This process is almost like prioritizing their comments into 3 categories of: - I'll make this edit, good idea editorial grammar nerds! - This edit is possible but I'll think on it and decide later. - There's no f**king way I'm changing this - they can go to h... Once I go through categories 1 and 2, I'll change the version name (see earlier bullet point!) and resend to the editors. Rinse and repeat.
Alright my friends... I hope you find this helpful. After editing you are SO close to the end. Stick with it!! Look at your 'why' and remember that initial desire to add your own creativity to world at large.
The next blog will focus on Step 4: Publishing and once again will include the tips and tricks that I personally use. Subscribe to the newsletter to make sure you're updated on when it's released. Until then, stay safe and healthy my friends!