After a newbie author asked a question on a Facebook group, “What’s a beta reader?” I answered, regaling her with my entire draft-to-edit-to-publish process. Lucky her!
A lot of people have asked me, what’s your process, and I often tell them about how I get my ideas, or something like that. But the truth is MUCH MORE BORING AND TEDIOUS.
And so I’ll post it here.
1) Draft. As in, finish writing the first draft of the book. Type THE END, just for the sense of satisfaction it creates.
2) Let it settle a few weeks while I write a different book or two. I can’t sit around obsessing about the draft.
3) Reread my draft and do a major content edit. I’m always surprised as I reread, because I’ve been blessed with the most forgetful-of-stories brain on the planet. I even forget what *I* write. Yep. So this is often kind of fun. (Sometimes it’s horrifying, though, filled with a whole bunch of what was I thinking?)
4) Give it to my “alpha reader” (which my husband insists on being called).
5) Re-edit, based on my husband’s suggestions. He’s both brilliant and gentle. He gives me the bad news in dribs and drabs, like a slow IV drip of the meds my story needs.
6) Send to my trusted beta readers, to get secondary feedback on what strengths/weaknesses the book has. When my NYT Bestselling Author uncle came and spoke at a writers conference I attended about five years ago, he had some excellent advice: be very careful about who you show your work to. Not all feedback is created equal.
7) Work out the kinks, based on the feedback received. Choose wisely which advice to follow and which not to follow. Do not perform this step in a highly emotional state. (I have failed at this advice and ended up wonking out my whole entire book. I was glad I’d kept an earlier draft so I could go back to code.)
8) Do a final read-through, catching the loose things/typos.
9) Send to a proofreader. Or two. It’s surprising how many things slip through.
10) Fix proofers’ catches.
11) Re-read. Be critical, and yet rejoice in it. Even if I’m sick to death of this book by this point, I have to let myself be happy in the good parts.
12) Rejoice and send to my review team, who agree to read and early copy (ARC) in exchange for an honest review.
13) Hold breath. Make any changes reviewers happen to catch and contact me about.
14) Release book. Pray that after all this effort, it’s a good story that brings a light to someone’s life. Because, as Kate DiCamillo says, stories are light in a darkening world.
How long does this process take? It depends on the length of the book and the complexity of the story. I’ve had it take a year. I’ve had it take three months. But I’m always overlapping books (see step 2 above.) If I’m working on the next book while Book A is out for beta reading or editing or review, then I can keep my momentum going.
And now, drumroll, please. For the exciting news du jour. Today I sent my latest book in the Billionaire Makeover Romances to three trusted beta readers. I’ll tell you more details about that book IF the beta readers give it the thumbs up. Meanwhile, I would sit around biting my nails, worrying about whether they’d like it, but I’m too busy digging into editing the next edit. As of this afternoon, I’m 75 pages into an edit on the next book in the Legally in Love Series, which I’d love to be able to release before the end of this year.
Better go now. Writing calls.