I’m in the middle of editing Standing At The Edge, The Last Brigade Book 3, and I realized how many thousands of little decisions go into the making of just one book. Let me give you a few examples.
First is the timeline. I’m a pantser, which means I write by the seat of my pants, making it up as I go. That’s not to say I haven’t outlined things in my head, only that I haven’t written them down and don’t follow a set script when I write. And here’s a confession for you: I wish that I could write that way. It would make the editing so much easier. But I can’t. I’ve tried and failed. I’m going to try again with book 4. I’ll let you know how that goes.
Anyway, the timeline is tricky. This book jumps to different locales and as the author I want to stay with characters long enough for the reader to connect with them. But what if others things are happening at the same time? Do I adhere to a strict chronological timeline at the expense of following a subplot until it reaches a logical breakpoint, and then go back in time when I switch to another subplot? It’s not as easy as it sounds. Some people prefer it one way, some the other.
You also have to make sure that all of the facts and revelations line up with one another. For example, does an action early in the book have repercussions later? Does someone make a reference that hasn’t happened yet? You’ve got to think about all of this.
Then comes the content edit. Anything that doesn’t advance the narrative has to go. In Standing At The Edge I’ve already moved two plot lines to book 4, which is awesome because I haven’t even started writing that book and it’s already close to 20k words.
But the hardest part for me is the line edit. I read every single word in the book at least three times. I agonize over every visual, every description, every phrase. I speak every word of dialogue out loud to ensure that it sounds natural for that character. It’s a long, hard and grinding process.
And the whole time I’m doing it the next book on my schedule is running through my mind like a movie in the background. It’s distracting!
But I’m lucky. I have a publisher who happens to be the editor’s equivalent of Lebron James. I don’t have to make my book perfect because, after putting three of my books on the market, I know she will put on that final polish that makes it special.
If you self publish I strongly suggest that you interview editors until you find one that works for you, then pay them whatever they charge to make your books awesome.