This is the fun part.
Ha! I’m lying. At least partially. Edits are not fun. Revisions are, so let’s talk about revisions first.
Revisions – A lot of new writers think that they’re supposed to sit down, crank out a book, and it’ll be perfect the first go round. Nope. That’s 100% wrong. And you should be happy that’s not how it works. That takes a lot of the pressure off.
Getting a book right on the first draft isn’t possible. I don’t know any writers who do it and end up with a solid, publishable story. Revisions are where the magic happens. The first draft is where you get your story down. At this point, unless you’re writing a series, you’re still getting to know your characters. You’re still getting a feel for your settings. During the first draft, you’re still surprised that the story isn’t turning out exactly how you anticipated. And that’s okay. Just get the story down. It doesn’t have to be pretty or award worthy. There’s no reason anyone else has to see your first draft, unless you’re a masochist and want to show it off.
I typically do at least three revisions on my books. Sometimes more. And that’s okay because that’s what a revision is for. By the time you’re in revision mode, you know your characters, you know where the story is going, you understand everyone’s motivations, so you can start adding layers. Throw in a few red herrings if you’re writing a mystery. Add description. Make your story pop! A revision is where your story becomes a publishable book, so use it.
Edits – When I say edits, I don’t mean the ones you do yourself. (side note: you MUST edit your books before you send them to an editor. It’s unprofessional to send an editor a manuscript that’s a complete mess. Professional writers NEVER do that. Do a read through/edit before you send it. You’ll be surprised by all of the things you find that need to be fixed.) When I say edits, I mean the edits that an editor does.
There are two types of edits. Line Edits and Content Edits.
Line Edits – This is the technical stuff. Are your commas in the right place? Did you spell words correctly? Do your sentences make sense. That kind of stuff.
Content Edits – A content editor will catch inconsistencies in your book, let you know if the story isn’t flowing, finds plot holes, that kind of stuff. They find the things that, left unfixed, really tick readers off . Most readers don’t care if a comma is in the wrong place, but they will care if you set up a character as the perp, then completely drop that story thread without telling the reader whether they were or not.
One of the most important things to know about edits is that they’re not fun. An editor will always return your manuscript with changes, and that’s a bit of a blow to the ego. I value the editing process. It’s critically important for authors. At the same time, I don’t enjoy it. I prefer to think my book is perfect after it’s third or fourth revision, but it never is.
There are authors who hate both the revision process and editing process and there are authors who hate one or the other. That’s fine. But you have to know that as painful as both can be, you never want to publish a book without doing both. NEVER. Over time you’ll get adjusted to the pain. It’s all part of being an author.
Never! Never! Never! publish a book that hasn’t been professionally edited.
Did I say never? I think you see where I’m going with this.
Until next time, happy reading & writing!