How to Edit: Going from a First Draft to Second Draft

how to editSelf-published authors need to know how to edit their drafts. Just like there can be no book unless you write it, there can be no good book unless you edit it. No one writes perfect drafts. Sometimes it can take multiple tries to get it right. Each draft is going to get you closer to your final product: your sophisticated, well-written, self-published book. You just need to know how from that first draft to the second (to the third, to the fourth…). You need to know how to edit.

DiggyPOD recommends hiring a freelance editor.

We know you’ve spent countless hours writing that book you can’t wait to self-publish. It’s important to you, and therefore to us, that it’s edited properly. Though we don’t provide editing services ourselves, we still highly recommend the book be thoroughly proofread and polished before we begin the printing process. Hiring a freelance editor to read your work, clean it up, and return it to you is a good step in the direction of self-publishing. Freelance editors are skilled. They know how to edit (and how to edit well).

If you’re going it alone, edit, edit edit. Then edit some more.

We also understand that sometimes it’s just not in a writer’s budget to hire an editor. This isn’t a problem, per say; it’ll just require more diligence on your part. As a self-publisher, you wear many hats: author, editor, publisher, marketer, etc. While this gives you a rich experience in the publishing world, it can be demanding.

Here are some editing tips for writers:

  • Have an understanding of syntax, punctuation, and grammar.
  • You need to be able to spot comma splices, run-on sentences, grammatical errors, etc., from a mile away. Editing is all about correcting mistakes. A good resource for a firm understanding of punctuation/grammar is Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style.
  • Be ready to cut a lot out of your book.
  • Not everything from the first draft is going to make it into the second. Sometimes, aspects of the draft that you like don’t do much for plot progression, or certain storylines just serve to distract the reader from the main tension.
  • Understand what your potential readers want.
  • One of the steps a publishing house would take in the process is to establish what your book’s comp titles are. Comp titles are other books within the genre that yours is comparable to. A good way to ascertain how to edit a book (what you want to keep and what you need to cut) is to read books you feel are similar to yours. If you’re choosing to write a romance novel (the most popular genre in self-publishing!) read popular self-published and traditionally-published romance novels to get an idea of what your potential readers like.

Know how to edit a book as an editor, not a writer.

It’s one thing to understand how to edit writing. It’s another to understand how to edit your own writing. If you can’t switch hats and become editor, instead of author, then you’ll have a problem. Editing goes beyond just proofreading; as a writer, it can be difficult to comb through your novel, deleting things you don’t like and things you do.

Your second draft may turn out to not resemble your first draft at all. It could be a completely new version. Sometimes the change is radical. Sometimes it’s subtle. The one constant, however, is that the changes make the book better. Knowing how to edit is crucial for self-published authors. Either hire a freelance editor, or be ready to make the hard decisions yourself. In the end, your next draft will be all the better for it.

Is your book completely edited? Let’s move onto DiggyPOD’s printing process.