How to Write a Book – Part Four

How to Write a Book

After the first draft

So you’ve finally finished that first draft, what do you do now?  If you’re like me then you’ll want to get it out there and crack on with the next writing project but then patience was never one of my strong points!  Yes, you’ve completed the first part and it is a big hurdle to have cleared but you are by no means finished yet.  I liken this stage of the process to washing a very dirty car, only when you’ve finished cleaning it do you finally see the faint scratches, the little chips that need filling, and after all of that it still needs polishing.  But first things first, leave it for a couple of days or longer if you can manage that.  When you come back to it the necessary changes will have become so much more obvious.

When I finished my first draft I did just this, I went back over the piece and read it to myself.  That way I could make replacements, correct spelling, grammar and inconsistencies, and adjust parts that didn’t flow well.  I didn’t have loads to do as although I don’t edit on the go, I do take my time when writing and consider myself to be slow.

After this I sent the work out to my beta readers.  This is a really useful thing to do and you can choose the right people for the job.  My work is fantasy related and I choose some readers that liked fantasy but I also picked some that didn’t to get more of a balanced view on the writing itself as opposed to just the content and theme.  One word of advice though, make sure you send out a review sheet with the particular questions that you want answering otherwise the feedback you do get will all be different and not necessarily focussed on the areas that you want it in.  Also ask them to write a short review for you at the end, this way when you do release your book however many months later they don’t have to try and remember it, and you can just copy their review and email it back to them to add to amazon or goodreads etc.  When you do receive their feedback, go over your work and look at their suggestions, you may feel resistant to some of their comments but try making the changes and see if it works.  I was opposed to a number of suggestions I received initially but after finally giving in and making the changes, I must admit it was much better.

Now is it ready to go out?  No!  You must find an editor.  I cannot emphasise this enough, an editor is essential and when you receive the copy edit back from them you’ll understand why.  I spent some time looking for editors and sent off a number of emails asking about turnaround time and cost etc.  I finally settled upon one and sent my work away.  About two to three weeks later I received it back with plenty of red pen and I made more or less every single amendment suggested apart from one or two.  I then sent it back to the editor for them to proof read and there were a few more bits and bobs that needed remedying but what I was left with was a highly polished, smart looking piece of work.  My editor, Stephanie Dagg, was brilliant and I will definitely use her again.  You’ll be glad of spending the money and at the end of the day, why publish a piece of work that isn’t as near to perfect as possible?  If you put out a poorly edited manuscript your readers will know and they won’t forgive you for it.  Not everyone will love your work and the content of your writing but then we don’t expect them to however, they won’t forget if you put out a poorly edited piece.

In part five of ‘How to Write a Book’ we’ll be looking at all the other bits that you need to think about before publishing your work, and there’s plenty to consider.


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