Book Editing Tips

Book editing tips

Last night I received my feedback for Resistance, the sequel to Rebellion, from my editor Cressida Downing and I thought it might be of some use to you see how I tackle the ‘big’ edit, as I call it. I always edit after I’ve finished a first draft but then I send it to my editor and the subsequent edit is the most significant one.

My Reactions to Feedback

My first reaction, as always, was panic. There is a lot to do. There always is but this is why I pay for a professional editor, imagine if I published Resistance without this insight?! It would definitely be rubbish.

My second reaction was, oh yeah, I kinda knew that. This generally happens when you get an edit back; at the back of your mind there’s a niggle about your book and when your editor points it out you suddenly scream at yourself OF COURSE!

My third reaction is, huh, I didn’t think of that, that’s such a good idea and what a brilliant way to fix x & y. In fact, I didn’t disagree with any of Cressida’s points but that’s not to say you won’t when you get your edit back. If you do, that’s okay, you’re allowed to fight for what you think is right. But always think about why they might have felt that ‘thing’ needed changing.

What I Do When I’ve Calmed Down

I then sat at home and thought through everything she said, read it through a few more times, felt the dread of beginning an edit and then highlighted the most important points to help break it all down. The reason I feel fear is that the task always feels far too great but as soon as I start breaking it all down, it feels much more manageable and my heart rate begins to steady.

Then I sleep on it. Don’t start editing, or replying to your editor, immediately. No good can come of this. I emailed Cressida this morning and emailing her helps really clear things up in my mind as I go through each point.

The next thing I’ll do is tackle the easy fixes. It’s the best way to start, it doesn’t have to be linear, just make those simple changes. This helps you actually begin editing, and you’re also removing things from your to-do list, making the task feel far more manageable. After I’ve done those more straight forward fixes I tackle the big ones one by one, not all at once. I’m sure everyone edits differently but I do it this way because otherwise I do get overwhelmed by the task. Becoming overwhelmed is incredibly unhelpful as you’ll end up thinking you can’t do it and it will feel like an impossible task and that’s when you’ll find it takes you forever to complete.

After I’ve made all the changes I read it all through a few times, make tweaks and then I’ll have a few people to read it. I’d love to give Cressida a second pass at it but unfortunately I can’t afford it this time round.

Book Editing Tips

Here are a few of my tips to help you through the process:

  1. Don’t panic! It may seem like a huge task but you’ll get there.
  2. Read through your feedback a few times and then sleep on it.
  3. With fresh eyes go back through everything and break it down into smaller tasks.
  4. Tackle the easy changes first.
  5. Take on the big edits one by one.
  6. Read through everything.
  7. Either get your editor or someone else to read your novel and give you feedback.
  8. If there are still changes to be made, don’t panic! Go back to step one. You will beat this book!

What Changes Do I Need to Make?

Well, without giving anything away, it’s mainly structural and character changes.

Cassia is a bit melodramatic at the beginning, which is exactly what my Mum said too.

I need to find ways of explaining what happened in the first book a bit more.

There aren’t enough obstacles in the way.

There are a lot of characters and it can be hard to keep track. This is one of my biggest challenges as I can’t just remove them as they’re in an army, there are a lot of people!

Four characters need to be developed. One in particular and one in a way that will be… difficult.

And the ending is always the ending I wanted and I knew it would be problematic and, well, it will be problematic to people. But I’m not changing it. Changing the way it’s written, yes, but not changing the outcome. Sometimes you have to stick to your guns.

What did my editor and I agree that works? We both love the new character Rage 😀

I hope that talking through my experience and process will in someway help you, even if it’s just to reassure you that it’s totally natural to panic and feel overwhelmed by an edit. Good luck with your book!

You can buy a copy of Rebellion here.

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