A Step-by-Step Look at the Editing Process

Posted August 22, 2013 by Amanda Shofner in Editing / 7 Comments


What does the editing process look like? Though it varies for each person—we all have our own idiosyncrasies—the editing process should involve self-editing, beta readers, a content editor, a copy editor, and a proofreader*.

The more eyes on your book, the better.

Here’s the process I went through with Blog Events:

1. Write

You can’t edit if you haven’t written anything. Never forget about the importance of this step. Blog Events is a short book, so it took me a week or so. For a full-length novel, this portion could take a few months (or more!).

2. Self-edit for content, flow, and readability

Once I was finished, I reread my draft and fine tuned what I’d written. At this point, I didn’t make many changes. It was a well-written brain dump of information that needed outside help: I had no idea if what I’d written would be helpful for people not familiar with blog events.

Never think self-editing is enough. It’s not. But there are techniques to make your self-editing more effective.

3. Send to content editor

My content editor also happens to be my co-host for Bout of Books, so I wanted her input regarding anything I might have missed regarding our process.

4. Revise based on editor’s feedback

I reviewed the feedback my editor gave me, made a few tweaks of my own, and passed it off to a couple of my business friends.

5. Send to beta readers

I specifically chose business people to beta read for me because I wanted my book to be applicable to business owners. Asking someone of your target audience to review your book is vital. How else will you know whether you’re actually reaching your intended audience?

6. Revise based on beta readers’ feedback

This step is where my ebook actually started taking shape. I added in the section summaries and attempted to bring more of my personality into the book. Because sometimes I get too academic and stuffy. I also added actual examples from the read-a-thon.

7. Send to content editor for more feedback

I sent this to my content editor again because it had changed enough to warrant another look to see if there were areas I could fix up. (There were.)

Usually the process is to send to beta readers after self-editing and send to your content editor after betas. I did an extra step because I knew what I’d written needed the help.

8. Make final changes and send to copy editor

When you reach the copy editor, the content is set. It becomes all about readability. If you’ve been a reader of mine for a while, you know that my posts are grammatical and mostly free of typos.

But copy editing goes beyond grammar, spelling, and typos. It looks at aspects like how sentences are structured, how clear the information is presented, and whether there’s consistency in word forms.

Copy editing essentially asks: is this the best way the information can be presented? Sometimes it involves tearing apart sentences and putting them back together in a different order–all designed to make the content easy to read and understand.

And the author is too involved in the draft to answer this question on her own.

9. Revise based on copy editor’s feedback

When I got my edits back, I read my draft as if I’d accepted all the changes. (This is an option in Microsoft Word, and I also use it when I’m editing to check my own work.) I addressed any areas that didn’t quite sit right with me, then accepted all the changes.

If you like the flow of your manuscript after a lot of copy edits and you can’t tell where the changes were made, your copy editor did good.

10. Format and proofread

Once I incorporated all revisions into my draft, I formatted the document. As part of the formatting process, I put the document on my Kindle and proofread to make sure there were no lingering mistakes.

11. Send to proofreader for final review

Once I was satisfied with what I had, I sent it to my proofreader to double check everything.

12. Publish

With the approval of my proofreader, I gave everything a quick read through and then uploaded to Amazon.

And that’s where you see Blog Events today.

What does your editing process look like?

*So who does an editor trust with her own writing? I trust Alissa Vecchio, who loves grammar as much as I do. If you need a kick-ass editing team, we’re your grammar nerds.

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7 responses to “A Step-by-Step Look at the Editing Process

  1. I think the need for outside editing comes down to that one sentence: “And the author is too involved in the draft to answer this question on her own.”

    The author never has the distance to correctly find his or her own mistakes. They’ve loved it. Nurtured it into being. It is the editor’s job to rip all that apart. In a fun way. Sometimes.

    Also, great point about reading copy edits with final view and then accepting it as finished!

    • Exactly. Authors are too involved. So no matter how well you write or how good you are at editing, you’ll never be able to edit your own work effectively.

      I actually find that it’s faster to work through changes when I view them as if I accepted them. Most of the time, I don’t even notice where the changes are. So if I read it and all is well, then I don’t worry about addressing every single correction.

  2. Excellent post. It is very helpful to have everything laid out for you to see. I tend to feel like things are spinning out of control as I write, send off, read, revise, send again. I get a bit lost in the process (which is quite similar to yours) and it is very helpful to see it all laid out in front of me. Thank you!

    Paul R. Hewlett

  3. I love that you talk about having people from your target audience read it. That is an awesome tip!

    Thanks for breaking this down, I know it’s something I’m super stressed out about when I think about writing a book!

    • Yup. I just think of a young adult book: if it’s supposed to be for teens (even if adults read it too), shouldn’t I have a teen or two read it for authenticity’s sake? Because I’m not a teen myself, I don’t know specifically what they’re looking for–unless they read it and tell me.

      You can do it, Stacey! And you know you have me here to ask questions. 🙂

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