How To Make Sure Your Book Is The Best It Can Be

As authors I believe it is our responsibility to make our books the best they can be. As independent (indie) authors it’s even more important to produce an excellent book because of the widespread criticism about the lack of quality. I’ve just sent my second novel Prophecy to my beta readers and in this video [5:55 mins], I explain my process of drafting and edits.


In the video, I explain:

  • How I have just sent Prophecy to my beta readers and how some people don’t consider the full extent of editing, rewriting and beta readers in the timing of their publishing schedule
  • The first draft to me is when you can read end to end with no missing bits or [must research this] [put fight scene here] etc. You should be able to read it end to end as a story. I  print this version out and read it in entirety.
  • I do a big structural edit at this stage. I rewrite scenes, restructure and delete sections (Here I explain why deleting 20,000 words is sometimes necessary). I added in bits I missed as well as foreshadowing and other layers to make it a better read. After this big second draft, I print it out again.
  • In this 3rd draft, I line edit, change repetitive language, fix typos etc to create a clean draft for beta readers.
  • Beta readers will read the book as if they bought it and give me feedback and comments. Importantly they will also mention anything that jolts them out of the ‘fictive dream’. My 7 beta readers are a mix of professional writers but also my family whose criticism is sometimes hard to take. We need thick skins in this business! They have 2.5 weeks to read and provide feedback.
  • Then I will make changes based on feedback. It won’t be everything mentioned but if there are commonalities I will fix these issues. It won’t be a complete rewrite but it will be a tidy up at this point which will create the final draft.
  • I will then submit to a copy-editor/proof-reader who check the grammar & typos in the final version so it is as professional as possible.
  • These things take time but it is critical that you put the best version of your book up for sale. I personally hate the accusations of bad quality that is laid on self-publishers these days. There’s no excuse for it!

What is your editing and rewriting process like? Do you do all these steps? If you’re an experienced writer, what changes as you write more books?



This is a reprint from Joanna Penn‘s The Creative Penn.