5 Steps To Finishing Your Book
5 Steps To Finishing Your Book
Many aspiring authors talk about the book they plan to write but how many actually finish their book?
If you put a number of would-be authors in a room and asked about their book creation, only half would even start their book and out of those that did, probably only half of those would ever finish it.
Step 1 – Complete the first draft
Every writer’s immediate goal should be to complete the first draft of their book. Some authors may take years to do this and others may take months.
I suggest that you aim to complete the first draft of a manuscript within 30 days.
Why? Finishing the first draft of a manuscript is an achievement. It is psychologically sound for you to know that you can do it. It helps you create momentum.
If you take on the challenge of creating a book within 30 days then set a word count that is achievable. Let’s say you set a word count goal of 10,000 words and your aim is to write some words every day and you keep writing until you achieve those 10,000 words.
You may decide to write 1000 words a day, or just 500 words. By setting a bite-sized word count each day you will complete the first draft of your manuscript.
As you write your first draft do not edit it. The editing mindset is very different to the writing one so refrain from editing that first draft.
The purpose of that first draft is very straight forward – it is simply to exist.
The important thing is to get the words down no matter how rough. Don’t be concerned if you think the writing is all junk and that it is full of mistakes and errors.
Step 2 – Take a break
When the first draft is finished print out the document. A good idea is then to bind it so that it looks like a book.
Your next move is to put the manuscript away. Put it in a drawer or cupboard.
Don’t look at it. Don’t touch it. Even forget about it.
Refrain from looking at it for 1 or 2 months, or if you have a tight deadline, put it away for at least a week.
Relax. Let your mind unwind for a bit before taking on the rewriting and editing of your manuscript.
When you do look at the manuscript again you will look at it from a fresh perspective.
As you read through it you will notice the errors more easily.
On this rough first draft scribble notes, ideas, cross things out, add bits.
Step 3 – The 2nd draft
You are ready now to start the rewrite. This is when you can start to self-edit.
Here’s a tip: Save a copy of the first draft and then create a new document for the second draft. That way you will always have a copy of the first draft.
Create a schedule for completing the second draft.
Work on the manuscript and revise it until you get it to an acceptable state; something that you are happy with.
Then it’s time to get some beta readers. They could be family, relatives, trusted friends, or acquaintances. You want their feedback.
Beta readers evaluate your book from a reader’s perspective.
Once you have given the manuscript to some beta readers put your second draft away and out of sight again.
Once again take a break from the manuscript.
After some time has passed come back to it. As before, print a copy of the second draft and write your notes and comments on the pages of the manuscript.
Collate the feedback from your beta readers.
Step 4 – Do more drafts as need be
Depending on the genre and your level of expertise, you might rewrite your manuscript two or three or more times.
Newer writers may create many drafts until they gain competence and experience at producing a manuscript.
Before you hand the manuscript over to a professional or independent editor make sure you’ve read and revised it a few times until you’ve got it to an advanced state.
Step 5 – Professional editor
When you are finished with your self-editing hand over the manuscript to a professional editor or to someone who has at least had plenty of experience as an editor.
Your manuscript does need to be seen from another person’s eyes – ideally a set of professional eyes. So yes, you can certainly do your own editing but as the creator, you are a bit too close to the writing.
Accept that, and know that an independent edit only makes your manuscript better.
Once your manuscript has been edited and proofread it can then go through the final stages of preparing it for publication.
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