Edit, Revise—Is This Book Ready Yet?

This is it. The moment you’ve awaited since the day you opened a fresh document on your computer and pounded out  the title on your keyboard. Finally, you have finished your book. Next step: find a publisher and let them whip it into shape.

Wrong.

Your next step is to ignore your book for a week, a month, six months even. Move onto something else. Start that sequel you swore that you’d write, but don’t submit your masterpiece just yet.

“Say what?” you ask.

“Ignore the book for a while,” I say.

“Why?” is your response, of course.

“Get comfortable, grasshopper, and I shall explain.”

There are several next steps you can take. You can call on all of your beta readers to look over your book. They’ll be searching for plot holes, misspelled words, and over-acting. Oh yes, there can be over-acting in books.

Or you can join a critique group and spend the next year of two trading chapters with other members, and fuming over some of their criticisms. Another thing to remember, some critique groups trade off chapters weekly, or every other week, or once a month. Like a review, you aren’t guaranteed the other person will even like your writing style. In the fifteen years I’ve been part of critique groups, I’ve seen everything from gushing “It’s perfect as it is” to “you should quit writing today and find a real job. You can’t plot, your characters are one dimensional, and the dialogue is flat.” There have even been people who comment on narrative with “boring,” “nap time,” or “yawn.”

The purpose of a critique group is to give a professional assessment of another person’s work. Even the worst book has some redeeming qualities, which it is up to you to find. Even if you have to say “the formatting is perfect.” don’t trash another person’s work. It always comes back to haunt you—in the form of someone doing the same to you.

Your book has finally finished with the beta readers or critique group. You rub your hands together and prepare to shoot your masterpiece off to a publisher. They’ll be amazed by your work.

STOP!

Don’t send that book out just yet. The hard work has just begun. Sure, you diligently put all those suggestions from the beta readers or critique group to good use. You shouldn’t have to look things over again. Others have already done that for you.

Nope. It’s time to roll up your sleeves and begin the process that I call “Hair pulling out time.” Even working 10-15 hours a day, this should take at least a month, but six months is better.

“What?” you bellow. “My book is finished. You’re trying to sabotage my chances of becoming an International Best Seller and topping the Amazon rankings!”

“Whoa, there. Listen for a minute.”

You’ve only made a few changes, rewritten several sections. Now it’s time to go over your book word by word, paragraph by paragraph. Look for missing punctuation. Search out misspelled words. Ensure there aren’t any plot holes. Are your characters believable, three-dimensional? Have you finished the book in such a way that the reader will be happy? More importantly, is your book something you’ll be proud to show someone else?
Now you’re ready to send your book to a publisher, unless you fall prey to that writer’s disease—One more edit. I think I missed something.


That’s a topic for another day. 

Comments

Marie Lavender said…
Great tips, KC! Thanks for the helpful hints! :)