Sunday, November 20, 2011

Rewrites and Editing and Proofreading . . . Oh, My!

We’re coming up to the all-important stage of my latest novel, which will be released very soon. As any author knows it is tough enough to write a novel that has well over 100,000 words. The writing of a book takes an idea, planning, some sort of an outline and concrete thoughts concerning how to tell the story. That’s not to mention specific character development and how these personalities will be shared and interact. These are all very important ingredients that work together to form a manuscript.

But then the fun begins.

If you are a writer/author and you want to put your work in front of people, then you are very much aware that several sets of eyes need to examine your work before the final product hits the market. Mistakes will remain if you do not have others review the copy. A professional editor is essential. What stays? What goes? What needs to be reworked? What needs to be told in a different way?

But, there is more.

Even after rewrites and major edits have been performed, the actual proofreading of the manuscript needs to take place. I go over my text a minimum of five times and have done it as many as twelve times. That’s just me. I’m a stickler for details. My proofreader goes over the document four times. Thank goodness we double space the rough copy! We’d really be cross-eyed if we didn’t have the extra white area. Spelling and sentence structure is one thing, but looking for periods, commas, apostrophes and quotation marks can be a living nightmare.

And we’re still not done.

My publisher works on the font size, the margins and the spacing. A pdf version of the story is generated. Then my proofreader and I get a final opportunity to correct any errors in the copy that will be going to print. If you haven’t caught a punctuation error by then --- well, this is your last chance. Normally that process has to be done with quick turnaround.

Any published author realizes that a reader will find an error somewhere and that will be one of the first comments about the book. But, this imperfection won’t be due to a lack of effort. 

To my fellow writers out there--how tedious is your editing and proofreading process?  How many sets of eyes review your work?  How many times do you read through a manuscript yourself?

James Ross
Author of Lifetime Loser, Finish Line, Tuey's Course, Opur's Blade, Pabby's Score
Twitter: golfnovels and JamesRossBooks
Publisher Website: and
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Chris said...

Hello James,
I certainly appreciate the effort that goes into writing. I've not written a novel but I used to write technical manuals. Oh boy, what a nightmare and I never had a proof reader. The company I worked for wouldn't support that. So I had to do it myself. Let's just say one manual consisted of at least 20 versions sometimes more because I had to get the technical component 100% accurate. Fortunately my husband is a proof reader and he would help me out, he is such a stickler for accuracy. I agree the imperfection is certainly not due to lack of effort. After publication if I found a mistake, oh it was heartbreaking after all that effort. TFS

whywegolf said...

How many times? Jeez, I've lost count. I think I've proofed my book about six times and one of our sons, who writes and edits, gave it a thorough vetting. Right now I have the proof in my hands and need to make sure that this final version is right. As much as I like writing I HATE this part of it. At this stage any of the pleasure I ever had in re-reading my words has been rinsed out of me. But, on the other hand, I am right on the verge of publishing my first book, "Why We Golf". And that feels awesome.

Gerry Wendel said...

Thanks for the insight, James! Haven't written a book (yet) but information like this is so good to know!

Unknown said...

Rewriting, editing and proofreading, in my opinion is like cleaning the house with kids. I work and work and work and when I look back at what I've done, often it still looks like a mess. I learned from the first book that I published that the more eyes, that know what is good writing and what is not good writing, the better the end product.

Micheal Rivers said...

Jim, you are 100% correct. It's easy to see that you take a lot of pride in your work, assuring yourself that your reader is getting the very best you have to offer. My motto: edit, edit and then edit some more. I read and edit til I go blind and then I turn it over to others to find the mistakes I have missed.

Anonymous said...

Re-writes and proofreads are a tedious but essential part of the writing process. But sometimes, I feel re-writes can be creative exercises, re-visiting and re-imagining the scenes can be a challenge that drives away tedium.

Tari said...

Well, since I'm working on my first novel, so far my book has been read by, then two published authors, an editor and agent have all read the first three chapters...and now back to me!!

With my nonfiction it was me, me, me...then my editor and the reader.
And yes...the reader always found the error!!

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