I am still heavily in the midst of editing my upcoming non-fiction book ‘How To Find Your Purpose and Passion’.
I thought writing the first draft was hard ( it was!).
But editing seems to be a whole new ball game. It’s even more challenging (but please, do not stop this from getting you to completing the first draft if you are still at that stage!).
I had thought editing would take me two weeks to do. Oh, how beautiful our naivety can be!
Three months on since receiving the first content edit review from my editor and I have only just completed my initial review and edits.
Editing is hard because it’s a new skill I have to learn. And like any new skill, it will be difficult at first.
But as author entrepreneurs, we need to be comfortable with pushing our boundaries, learning and up-skilling.
Whatever you do for the first time (and possibly second and third) is bound to be hard. But it’s not impossible.
Editing can be tough because:
- You have to re-read through your first draft (and first drafts are pretty rubbish!)
- You need to re-read the manuscript multiple times, and you tend to get bored with reading the same text repeatedly.
- You have to deal with the self-doubt that arises when you look at your manuscript and think ‘did I actually write this?!?)
- That leads to my fears being reinforced; I start to believe my words are not good enough
- This, in turn, leads to a lack of motivation, which results in procrastination, which means the launch of the book will be further delayed
Editing is a big task and a part of the book process that not many writers tend to talk about.
But it’s just as important as the writing phase. Perhaps no one tells us editing is hard because then you might not ever get to the end of that much talked about first draft!
Here is my overview of what I am learning from the editing process to date and how you can apply some of the ‘layer’ principles:
You cannot expect to edit a 50,000 word manuscript in one attempt on a single day. You need to go through multiple rounds of editing. It’s like assembling a large cake. You need to add one layer at a time.
Layer 1: The first edit needs to be a general read through of the flow of the story.
This is also known as a content edit. It will address issues such as:
- What is the narrative like?
- Are you consistently talking in first/ third person?
- Are you leading the reader logically from one point to the next?
- Are there areas of duplication?
- Are there parts you have inadvertently missed or skipped?
My editor performed a content edit and reverted with her initial comments. Some of these comments included:
- Repetition of the same message in too many places
- Inconsistency of what I was trying to say
- Sections of the book not flowing logically from one point to the next
- Duplication / repetition
I reviewed each comment making the following amendments:
- Having to delete three chapters that no longer seemed to fit
- Having to create two brand new chapters and further content to fill missing gaps
- Remove duplication / repetition
- Providing greater clarity to some areas of the book which were obscure to understand
- Re-arranged 80% of the book into a new structure so that the Table Of Contents were completely overhauled
Layer 2: Now that I have the book’s structure/narrative in the right flow, I will begin to focus on the next ‘layer’ of editing, which is to go back and fill in missing content.
This content includes:
- Adding in quotes to the start of each chapter
- Research required collecting case studies per chapter. These case studies highlight or showcase the key point/theme in the chapter.
Layer 3: Once this content is added to the manuscript I will be able to perform the third ‘layer’ of edits which is to:
- Re-read through the book and evaluate the flow, narrative structure, assess if case studies fit into the relevant chapters
- Perform a grammar/spell check. I will be using Grammarly to do this. Grammarly has been a life-saver for me. It is a great free tool you can use at this stage of editing. The cleaner I can get the script, the cheaper and quicker the editing process will be for my editor. You also learn a lot about your writing through Grammarly. It picks up words you overuse and where you need to correct sentences.
It is much easier and efficient to do editing in ‘layers. If you try to do everything in one go, it’s likely you will miss something.
So give this ‘layer’ structure a go when you edit your next piece of work. You can apply this process to any piece of writing you do such as articles or blog posts. (I have in fact started to use process of editing to these blog posts).
In a nutshell, here are the key ‘layers’ of editing you need to be thinking about during the book creation process:
#1. Get a Professional Edit (Content Edit)
- Is the story all there? Does it flow logically from start to middle to end?
#2. Review feedback from editor
- Perform another edit.
- Do you need to add/delete content?
#3. Check for spelling, grammatical errors and typos.
#4. Professional Edit again (content/copy edit)
- Editor to review your changes/edits.
- Editor to also perform copy edit (this means she will go through the text line by line looking for spelling/grammar errors).
#5. Review feedback from editor
- What further changes do you need to make?
- Note you many need to go back and forth with your editor a few times to get this right.
#6. Professional Proofread
- Once you and the editor are happy with the manuscript and no further content changes are required, then its time for a professional proofread.
- Typically this will not be your editor (they will probably be sick of your book at this point!). But it’s important to have someone read it with a fresh pair of eyes.
- When you are too familiar with your work, the brain tends to skip chunks of text we are already familiar with.
- You can also get friends/ family or beta readers to read the book and once the book is ready, press publish!
It’s taken me three long months to complete the first round of edits. But I keep reminding myself that this is a journey and not a sprint.
This is my first independent self-published book, and I want to get it right and make it a quality product.
I am aiming to launch the book by next Feb 2017. You can sign up to be part of my launch team to get an early review copy and exclusive freebies when the book launches! Just pop your email into the ‘Subscribe’ button.
How do you edit your book? Please share your tips below.