Step 3 of writing a book: Be open to editing and understand the multi-phased process

The most critical part of writing a book is editing. This means editing structure to refine your focus and then editing language and nuances several times. Doing this by chapter and at the end of the writing process is essential. While there is a lot you can do on your own, if you are working with an established publisher versus self-publishing, you will be assigned an editor who can help guide the process.

As the author, especially if your book is somewhat autobiographical, it can be challenging to take a step back and look at the editing process objectively without personal or emotional attachment; this is expected, as storytelling is personal, but being open to this process is so crucial as challenging as it may be. A seasoned editor will recommend making language more concise and inviting and providing content and structural changes to help you publish and sell copies. It’s also vital to ensure you build a relationship with your editor and that they understand you and your story at a deep level. Trust is paramount because you are inviting your editor to be part of the process. If you don’t trust them entirely, there will be challenges. In some cases, you may need to experiment with more than one editor or interview a few first to find the right fit and level of trust.

There are several different types of editing throughout the process that are essential:

Self editing – This is about refining your focus areas, chapters and key messages to produce a clear outline that will act as a guide.

Story editing – This is refining chapters and flow to ensure the final content is reader-friendly and compelling.

Copy editing – This is about refining content page by page for impact, grammar and word length. Your editor will help you with this ongoing process.

Proofing – This is the final stage before publishing and may be directed by an additional team member who works closely with your editor. It is focused on ensuring content is word-perfect and typo-free. Several rounds of proofreading will happen before final publishing. This is likely the most important part of the process, as all errors must be corrected prior to mass printing.

While navigating this process, I am constantly learning and have stumbled upon invaluable insights. I hope these revelations can support and encourage you to consider the editing process as a true collaboration between you and your publisher.

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