Feb 7, 2010

Self-Publishing Drafts Can Help Editing Process

The editing / revision process is one of the most difficult in the process of writing. Any author who has the willpower to edit as he / she goes is a much stronger beast than I am. I've read somewhere that Lee Child - author of the wonderful Jack Reacher series - will edit what he has written the day before. He has a very distinct vision of where he wants the novel to go, so he's able to make incremental changes in the novel without compromising his vision of the entire book. More power to him.

Personally, I hate editing. I'm so scatter-brained, I like to write. I love getting things down on paper (computer screen), watching them pile up so I can lean back when I'm done and say, "Look at what I accomplished today. When each novel is over, I go through a small depression, because a) I'm no longer in the world I've created and b) I know that the hard part lies ahead of me.

I have tried several methods of editing, and none of them seem to work. I am a tinkerer, never happy with my work, so I'm constantly revising. I'm like George Lucas without the beard. I'm always thinking of ways to "improve" my novels - and hey, I can do that; none of them have been published - but I have trouble getting through a whole book in using that process. I always end up going back to the same parts and re-editing them.

No more. When I finished the first draft of my newest crime novel, Boogie House, I decided to try something different, and it's already paying dividends. I decided to self-publish the first draft and send myself a copy, so that, rather than trying to edit on the computer screen or on a gigantic printout, I can edit on a copy of the book itself. It's actually pretty nifty (and it gives your ego a boost when it arrives in the mail).

At first it feels kind of strange to be writing in a book like that, but you get used to it. Sort of reminds me of college. And another thing: it's a lovely, alien feeling to read your words in a published version and really get into reading it. I think one of the problems I had in the past of revising my novels was that I never got into them. There was always a mental block, because somehow I knew that I was just reading my words on a sheaf of printer.

With the self-published hardcover version - I went all-out - that mental connection has been restored. I actually feel like I'm reading a book when I sit down to edit, and it's a wonderful feeling. So, overall, maybe the idea of self-publishing doesn't make me a better editor, but it gives me the mental boost to actually be able to sit down and do it.


  1. Awesome - I can't wait to read a copy!

  2. That's certainly a good sign. You already found a way on how to improve your craft. If printing your book is what you need for you to be motivated and polish your writing, go on with it. All writers have their own styles to trim and strengthen stories. Congratulations on your book!

  3. You might like the AutoCrit Editing Wizard. It cuts down on editing time a LOT. It quickly finds the problem areas like overused and repeated words, slow pacing, etc.

    I love it :-)