Getting a book to the publishing stage

Editing

I guarantee you, once you have read this post, you’ll never look at the books in a book store in the same way again.

Why? Because I’m about to tell you about the big revelation I had in the lead up to publishing my first book, Change of Chaos.

Simply, it’s that it takes a lot of work to get a book ready to publish.

To start with, I wrote the first book, Change of Chaos, a couple of years ago, but it took a whole year to write it. Then, as per the sage advice provided by many other authors, I put it down. Locked it away, as it were.

Then I started writing the second book. Which took a lot less time, as I had more confidence by then, but still, it took its time.

After that, I went back to the first book. And did my first round of edits. Looks pretty good, I thought to myself. It took about two months to do those edits. Then I sent it out to my Beta readers for first round feedback.

Upon receiving the feedback, I took up what I could, made improvements, then locked the book away again.

Then I wrote the third book. Again, more confidence this time meant this one only took six months to draft, but that was just a first draft.

Then I pulled out the first book again. And started another round of edits. And this time, I was shocked. Argh, I would think, what was I thinking when I wrote that? And so I revised the first book. Again. This probably took about two months.

Then, I actually went through and did more, smaller edits. Another few weeks of work.

Then, when I couldn’t improve upon it much longer, I sent it to my editor. Great! I thought. She’ll go through, fix up the things I missed, and it’ll be perfect.

Lol. So much wiser now.

When I received my book back from my editor, some six weeks or so later, I began reading through my manuscript again from the start. Looking at and understanding all the alterations she had made, to fix my errors, turn passive into active voices, and looking at all the rules she had applied that make a book easy to read. Then I went through her comments again and fixed up all the story issues she had found, including continuity errors. Did a character suddenly start speaking who I hadn’t introduced? Check. Did I use modern Australian colloquiums when my book is set off world? Check. Had I repeated several words multiple times per page (e.g., turned, looked, quickly)? Check.

After some weeks of fixing, I then sent my manuscript back to my editor with the alterations I had made to fix all the issues she had identified so that she could review them and check my work (yes, all those English lessons about grammar rules were important). Then after a week’s review, she sent the manuscript back to me, and I read through all her comments. Another solid week.

Finally, once I had no more comments or alterations for her to check, I printed off the manuscript so I could proof it myself (sometimes I also get other people to do this for me concurrently). And that’s how I found other small issues, like words missing in a sentence, or use of an incorrect term.

After fixing the issues I had found, I then packaged up the manuscript for my publisher. From there, it takes six to eight weeks for my publisher to format both the print and ebook copies of my book, and to do all the legal and admin work around registering the book and loading the files up to global distributors.

About midway through, I get the print proof copy of the print version, so I can go through it one last time, or get someone else to.

And that’s when I became aware of five incorrect words in the book.

Overall, it’s a learning process, and I hope that with each story I publish in future, I will find the path to publication smoother and more efficient.

But now I walk into book stores, and marvel at the thousands of hours of work, and easily more, just one small shelf of books represents.

Read, appreciate, and enjoy.

JJ

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