How Many Times Should I Edit My Novel

By: Ken Brown
Published: 12/5/2020

Professional Indie Authors - Edit More than Once

An author in my writer's group, indie published her novel last month. I bought a copy of the book and read it. I was surprised by the fact she released her novel, because I wasn't aware of the progress she'd made on it since COVID hit. People can do amazing things over six to eight months. We hadn't seen the woman since March in the writer's group despite having the sessions online.

I know this author paid for a professional edit, which I recommend to indie authors if you can afford it and I see the editor's handiwork in the woman's writing. The story is much better written than the last time I had a look at a chapter. The other writer's in the writer's group had recommended a number of times, areas where she needed to improve her writing and I wondered how well she resolved those issues in this book. A first time published author will find they've made many mistakes in their first novel. We get blind to our own words and don't see the major flaws in our writing. I'm done reading the book and I wished she had allowed the writer's group to do a beta read of her manuscript, because it has flaws and many misspelled words.

Recommendations to Indie Authors

When I wrote Eclipse of the Triple Moons I read it through the first time after completing it and made changes that I saw. The second step, I used Pro Writing Aid to find diction, grammar, over-used words and writing style issues. Then I read it again.

All those readings were on the computer. But, I don't read novels on my computer, I read them on my Kindle, sitting on my comfy couch, with a cup of tea by my side. I converted my novel from Microsoft Word to mobi format for Kindle using Calibre. Then I re-read the novel. To me that's the first read-through, an author's first chance to see their novel in print. I found numerous typos and errors on that first read, that I fixed.

But a writer isn't finished editing at that point. I sent my book to six beta readers, who all had something different they found within the pages of my novel. One beta reader found a made up word I used for an animal that she read completely read differently than I did and she was offended by the word. A writer can't know that until someone else reads it. I added their recommendations to my novel and ran through another instance of ProWritingAid and did another read-through on Kindle. The first book I didn't have money for a professional editor to review and give me story feedback. I suspect many first time Indie authors run into that problem.

At some point you have to let the book fly into the world. Authors can make corrections on books forever. There is a need to get the book out into the marketplace, because now you have a chance to learn more about the process and grow as a writer. I sent the book into the marketplace and had one reader who loved it on one of the reading sites, but others gave it an okay review of three stars. I don't think the two reviews I received that gave me a three star rating are part of my target audience, but it still gave me pause to re-evaluate and grow my craft.

Editing List

  • First Edit on Your Computer Screen
  • Second Edit use a Service like ProWritingAid
  • Third Edit on Reading Device
  • Fourth Edit Feedback from a Beta Reader
  • Fifth Edit Feedback from a Professional Editor
  • Sixth Edit on Reading Device
  • Seventh Edit on Print Edition Proof
  • Repeat Loop from any Part of this Pattern above
  • Feedback from the World

I'm deep into book 2, Zita's Revenge, with an eBook release date of January 1st, 2021 and I've followed many of the same techniques as before. I'm on draft eight of the book and am waiting for an editor's feedback and a beta reader's feedback on the book. The beta reader has found wording style issues, some I fixed and others I mark down as reader's voice. She also has noticed backstory concerns, like who is this person and what does he/she look like and who's her father? Authors know their characters so well we forget to give the reader a chance to visualize the character as we do.

On a side note, I was using an older version of ProWritingAid on my computer. I didn't realize they had upgraded their product until things started acting strange. Anyway I downloaded a new version of the software and paragraphs that passed the old version, do not pass the new version. I'm most concerned with grammar and spelling issues, so I'm making another pass with ProWritingAid of the whole novel.

The point I'm trying to make here is as an Indie Author you must take the time to read through your story, multiple times, with the eye of an author, wearing the hat of an editor and enjoying the comfort of a comfy chair and a drink as a reader. Give your readers the best chance possible to enjoy your books, by editing multiple times for story, grammar, spelling and story line. It's not your beta reader's fault or your editor's fault if something is missed. It's your fault. Write the best book possible, by doing multiple edits of your work before publishing.