It does sound glamorous to write a book. You have a great idea, but do you know the process? How do you go about turning that idea into a book? You’ll need patience to approach the process with care and to ensure you stick with it.
I generally write the first draft of the book straight through without editing. Not everyone does it this way. Some people edit after every chapter and others even edit after each section they write. I advise against this. It’s too easy to become stuck on one part and not move on. Giving up is close on the heals of stalling out.
The rules I adhere to for the first draft are similar to what the people advise during National Novel Writing Month: move forward, don’t edit, don’t correct anything… just get the story down. At times it’s hard to do, but it is freeing in a way to move forward. At this point, it doesn’t matter if you misspell words, it doesn’t matter if your grammar is spot on. Just move forward and get the book down on paper or into the computer.
During the first reading, don’t revise. Instead, make notes in the margins of what works and what doesn’t work. If you get a bright idea for a revision, make a note to yourself about it. Read to see if the story holds together, if everything is in the right sequence, and if you find it interesting.
Go back through the manuscript and make the changes you noted during the first reading. Smooth things out but don’t be too obsessive about it. After you make the revisions from the first reading, let the book sit for a few days.
Now, go through the book very slowly. You want to catch everything during this edit. If passages need to be rewritten, take the time now to do that. You want to make sure at this point that the story works as well as ensuring that there are no typos and grammatical errors. So this is the long, slow edit. Savor every sentence. Does it work? Does it need to be rewritten.
After this second edit, the book should be ready for a professional editor to look at it. I recommend that you hire an editor rather than use a friend or your mother. Find someone who will be totally impartial and who will tell you what you need to hear – regardless of whether you want to hear it or not.
Re-write the Book
Arrrrrgh…. ! Yes, you heard me right…. after the professional edit, you’ll want to take another look at the entire book and re-write it based on the recommendations the freelance editor made that make sense to you. You don’t have to implement every change the editor recommends, but it is important to be open-minded enough to consider the points made by the editor and make the changes you feel need to be made.
Proof the Book
After rewriting the book with the editorial changes, it’s important to give the book one more proofread to make sure you’ve caught everything.
Now you are ready to send it on to agents, editors or to self-publish it. The point I’m making in this post is that writing a book is not a one-draft proposition. The steps I’ve listed are possible steps. Depending on how easily your book falls together on the page, you may revise fewer times. Most often, though, authors revise many more times.
Don’t be in a rush. It doesn’t matter how long it takes to write the book. It matters that the book turns out to be as good as you envisioned.