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I’ve got a bit of a short one for you this week, but it stems from a very important question regarding editing that I hear quite often, how long should you wait between edits. I also talk about how many rounds of edits I recommend and give an overview of my recommended path to go from the first draft to final draft.

Industry News:

This episode also made me realize that there are a few things I already want to change about this podcast. For one, I want more interviews. The goal is, and always has been, to do at least 1 interview a month, but preferably 2. It was also my intention to cover topics that are aimed more at the business and marketing side of writing and not focus on the creative process itself. You’ll see these changes reflected around episode 11, and I”ll talk a bit more about them in episode 10.

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As always, below is a direct copy of the show notes. They were written before the episode was recorded and are unedited but are here for reference and SEO.

Topic: Let’s Talk About The Editing Process

  • Editing is the most important part of writing a novel, there is no debate about that.
  • But how much editing do you need?  How much is too much? Or not enough?
  • For that matter, how long should editing take, and how should you go about editing, chapter by chapter or the whole manuscript at once?
  • Today’s episode is about just that. Lynn Fellows sent in a question asking “Do you recommend one full edit at a time (for example reading out loud or using text to speech software to listen to the whole story) or is it more efficient to do several mini-edits on a chapter-by-chapter basis? How much time should you take between edits to avoid becoming ‘sick to death’ of reading your own words? or is that just me?
  • In personal news, I started programming the Steam Powered Dreams Story Engine this week! It’s really fascinating the direction it’s going and I’ll be talking more about this as the weeks go by, but I’m happy to say you won’t have to wait too long to learn more, as I’m hoping to have a prototype to show off by the end of the year.
  • In industry news, Bookfunnel.com announces “sales delivery actions” and what that means is their service now allows you to sell directly from your website to your reader’s preferred reading device or app! This is pretty big news for indie authors, as it’s been somewhat of a headache for most who try to sell direct.
  • The other story comes from the big boy itself, Amazon, who is introducing X-Ray for Authors. This allows authors to provide more information on characters, topics, events, places, or any other term used in the book when the reader taps on the word.
  • I actually started noticing this a while back being used by some big names, such as Brandon Sanderson, but it’s now open up to traditionally published authors and indies alike.
  • Alright, that’s it for the news.
  • Before we get into our topic, I want to mention two of our newest backers on Patreon, Jereme Menefee, who was on the show a few episodes ago, and Lunabell. Thank you for the support!
  • The support really means a lot. This podcast is partially supported by those backing us on patreon, with the rest coming right out of my pocket.
  • If you like what you hear and want to help support the show, the best way is to head over to our Parteon page at steampowereddreams.com/patreon. For showing your support, you’ll also get access to other goodies, such as our Discord, monthly Q&A videos, and more.
  • Okay, let’s talk about editing.
  • Editing really can be the bane of a writer’s existence. We all know it’s a necessity, but not only does it take time out of writing our stories, but it can be very boring. However, once you have your editing process down, you’ll be surprised at how smoothly it really can be.
  • So let’s break Lynne’s question down into two, smaller questions.
  • The first is whether or not you should do full edits or chapter by chapter mini-edits.
  • And the truth is they both have their place.
  • However, you should be careful about doing mini-edits until your manuscript is already pretty solid.
  • This means when you’ve just finished your first draft, I highly recommend a full edit, from front to back. In fact, don’t even correct anything, just mark down everything you can find with a focus mostly on plot holes and missing scenes.
  • And then, after that’s done, you can organize the story over again and really think about the changes before you actually put them in in your third round of editing.
  • I find this works best, and I’m sure many writers agree, especially newer ones, but if you don’t like the idea of not fixing as you go, just keep in mind that you may change something that could impact later scenes, or worse, when you change something in chapter 12 and forget that you need to change it in chapter 3 as well.
  • Once that’s done, you’ll want to get it to a developmental editor or beta readers, who will give you some very important feedback.
  • This feedback should then be organized and used to edit based on a smaller scale, rather than the chapter or whole book level as you did in the second and third draft
  • What I mean is focus on sections they gave feedback and skip those that they didn’t.  
  • A word of warning about both developmental editors and beta readers, though. Everything they say is not golden. In the end, it’s your decision to change, cut, or add things to your story, but you should still always listen to what they have to say.
  • And finally, after you’ve done all that, it’s a good time to give it one final full edit before sending it off to the copy editor, this time focusing on fixing as many little mistakes as you can find.
  • Part two of the question was how much time should a writer take between edits.
  • This is more subjective and can vary for every author, as well as which step of the process you’re in.
  • It’s not uncommon for an author to let their manuscript sit for 3 to 6 months in between the first and second draft, though personally, I don’t like to take that much time off.
  • The average for this is probably somewhere around the 1 to 3-month range, but you’ll know when the time is right. If that means starting your edits a day after typing “the end”, then go for it.
  • For me, once I finish a draft, that story is usually churning around in my mind until I can’t stand it and it has to be worked on, usually no more than a week, maybe two.
  • The time between other edits, say after getting it back from an editor, is generally pretty short, if there is any at all. Remember that some authors take years to produce a final draft, while others can do it within a month.
  • Before we close this episode out, I do want to clarify a few things and go over what I recommend all authors do as their editing process.
  • It might not be perfect for you and don’t do something you’re uncomfortable with, but try it out and see how it works.
  • Once you finished your first draft, let it sit. Let the story play over and over in your mind for a few days or a week, and then sit down to read the whole thing.
  • As I mentioned before, I like to make notes or comments, but not actually correct anything at this point. This keeps the story going on in my head with these “fixes” and by the time I’m ready to sit down and actually edit, I’ve decided what should and should not be changed, which is the next step. You can almost think of this as me doing my own developmental edits or beta reading.
  • Once you’re ready to make the actual changes, focus on those that are larger in scale, such as making sure scenes are in the right order, they make sense, and characters are developed correctly.
  • It’s at this point you want to hand it off to beta readers and/or developmental editor. For beta readers, tell them the story hasn’t been polished yet so you’re looking for feedback on things like character development and plot holes, rather than the smaller details or grammar.
  • When you get their feedback, it’s time to make a choice. You can either spot edit whatever you feel needs fixing or do a full edit. Personally, I tend to spot edit but if your beta readers had things to say about almost every chapter, it’s probably a good idea to just go ahead and start from the beginning.
  • It’s at this point I generally seek out a beta reader or two. If I’ve already had someone read it, I ask the same person to read it again, paying attention to the changes I made.
  • Not all beta readers are willing to do this, and so if not, a new one works just as well.
  • Either way, you should tell them to look for smaller issues now, and that most likely the story/plot/setting/character development most likely won’t change.
  • If they get back to you and you notice there are, once again, major changes recommended across all chapters, you’ll probably need to do another full edit and another round of readers.
  • But I find at this point you’ll most likely get just some smaller things, and so spot editing is probably the way to go.
  • Which means, at long last, your manuscript is ready for a copy editor!
  • The process will take anywhere between 2 weeks to 2 months, depending on the length and editor, but do not skip out on this step!  You can skip out on a developmental editor and even beta readers if you really want to, but skipping out on this step all but guarantees your book will not sell.
  • And, finally, after you get your book back from the copy editor, give it one last read and consider it done. If you plan on using a proofreader, send it off to them, but if not it’s time to publish, which is a topic for another day.


  • I hope this helps answer your questions, Lynne.
  • If you have questions, there are two ways to reach me.  The first is through the website at steampowereddreams.com/authorpreneurmindset and then click on Ask A Question.
  • The second is to join our facebook group at facebook.com/SPDwritershelpingwriters
  • Where to find me:
    • The website is at steampowereddreams.com/authorpreneurmindset
    • you can find me on Facebook at facebook.com/jeremylcollier
    • on Twitter at SoulScribbler,
    • and finally on Instagram at authorpreneurmindset
  • Until next week, I am your host Jeremy and don’t forget to keep moving forward.

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