first draft

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


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!

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.