books

What its like to work with an editor

Before I wrote my first book, I thought the hard part was coming up with ideas, putting them nicely together and writing a full draft. 

Well, early on, I discovered that writing a draft is only part of the equation and just the beginning. 

After months (or more accurately, years) of working on my first book, I had no idea what was waiting for me after I've managed to write that first draft. I was exhausted from the late nights and early mornings trying to juggle real-life responsibilities and the call of duty with the nudge of my inspiration and my creativity. 

That's when I met my editor. 

Proudly entering the editing process, with months spent on self-editing, I was confident that my book was good and that not much change would be needed to make it even better. I couldn't have been further from the truth. 

I can remember it like it was yesterday. 

I was eager to have a professional eye set on my manuscript, and I was ready to welcome feedback. But what I didn't anticipate what the amount of work I would still need to do before I could ever say I have a book

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Here's how it went: 

  1. First, I wrote the draft;
  2. Then, I let it rest for a few weeks;
  3. I came back to the draft and changed a few things;
  4. A few rounds of self-edits (once with a printed version, the second on my laptop);
  5. Another few rounds of self-edits (once for the story plot, the second for characters, and settings);
  6. When done, and satisfied, I ran the whole manuscript through a grammar software;
  7. It was now ready to be sent to my editor (here's where the real work begins!);
  8. It came back alongside a few pages of valuable overall feedback AND more than 400 comments of things to change. (words, sentences, story, characters, timeline, pacing, plot; everything under the hood was looked at);
  9. So, I re-wrote the whole thing (altered the timeline, deleted scenes, added chapters, etc.) 
  10. Not once, 
  11. or twice, 
  12. but three times!
  13. I re-did a few rounds of self-edits;
  14. And rerun the whole thing through the grammar software;
  15. Now, it was time for early readers to go through it;
  16. When their comments came back, I made the changes;
  17. Re-did the self-edits/grammar process;
  18. And sent it over to my editor one last time for proofreading;
  19. It came back with 48 changes (not too bad!). 
  20. Motivated, but weary, I made the changes one by one until I was all done; 
  21. The final draft went a third time through the grammar process;
  22. And when that was done, I imported the file through my formatting software and read the whole book a few more times to catch mistakes and make it look good.
  23. Then, I created the files, and there it was; ready to be published!
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So, if you ever wondered why it takes so long for authors to write a book, that gives you a good idea why.

Oh, and by the way, new authors usually have to go through this while they are working a full-time job. That's when you wonder if we are crazy! I think we are yes, but now that I have gone through it all (and I can testify that it has been the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life), I know it's what I love doing and wouldn't trade it for anything.

How I organize my ideas (with Scrivener)

As creatives, we have many ideas. Sometimes way too many!

They come to me in my sleep, in the shower, when I'm driving listening to a song, while I'm watching a movie, reading a book, or having a conversation with a stranger. I even had ideas for another series I haven't start working on yet. But although it's nice to spend time with all those lovely characters, imagine the settings in my mind, and to imagine what's going to happen for them, I need a system to help me process all my ideas. A system that will help me keep the ones I could use for my books, and organize them before I'm ready to bring them to life.

I need a tool I know I can count on. A tool that will be there whenever I need it. 

When I discovered Scrivener, I knew I had found a goldmine. 

I took a few courses and watched a whole lot of videos online to learn how to use it. (*You can check Learn Scrivener Fast if you're looking for the best 101 course on how to make the most out of this tool.) 

Then, I dove in.

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I went on Pinterest, copied a bunch of pictures, started to build my characters, research on the settings, etc. When that early research is done, I used Scrivener to help me develop my story. I began by creating little notecards for each scene, then I added a few files and started writing. The beautiful thing about Scrivener is that it allows you to move things around. You can drag and drop one scene and place it before another so smoothly that you wonder why you waited to make the jump!  

But even though I love working on my laptop, sometimes I need to put my ideas in writing. So, I always open a physical file for each book, where I keep other pertinent information like notes I took on the fly, pamphlets of a place I went to, outlines, or mind maps of the whole series.

I also use Scrivener to gather my ideas for Newsletters, Social media, and the exclusive content I give my patrons. 

So, that's mainly how I organize my ideas into books and how I stay on top of things. Well, at least I try to!

 

* This article contains an affiliate link. I'll get a few bucks for referring it to you if you find its what you need. Know that I only refer what I believe to be of great interest for any new writer. (Learn Scrivener Fast was used by MICHAEL HYATT & JOANNA PENN and they described it as being "Awesome" and "so worth it")