Revise, revise, revise; the self-publisher’s constancy

As I edit and revise Dangerous Rainbows, I noticed a couple of odd mistakes that weren’t picked up by MS Word. Love it or hate it, MS Word is extremely good for doing the final revisions to a book. I have the spelling, grammar, and style checking custom set to some very strict guidelines, but every so often it gives questionable results.

Or so I thought. And I spoke and wrote too soon. It caught the mistake on my main computer. It was a separate computer with different settings that didn’t catch the mistake.

So, always do a line by line edit if you’re self-publishing. Several times. There should be one done once the book is finished. Then take a break, and then get the formatting of the book ready. Once it’s formatted and ready for printing, that’s when I usually do the first “final draft” edit. Several errors are usually caught and fixed. Once that’s done, skim over it to make sure the formatting is still correct, and then use a standard spell-checker. Let it check grammar and style as well. Granted, it will peg dialog all over the place, but just keep ignoring those. Sometimes something small, like an extra period or other error will appear in the narration you would have never caught or thought to fix before.

It’s not done. That’s where I stumbled and just decided to print off a proof copy and read a physical book, marking it with marker and sticky notes for edits that still need to be done. I did that for The Lupine Prince and went through four copies like that. The cost was still minimal, but its not something I’m going to do again. After Dangerous Rainbows, that is. Three proof copies. But the third should be fine. I’m only up to the second and am now taking my own advice. To continue: Re-edit the document, line by line, in MS word. Twice over at least, if there are no errors found the second time. Then comes the light reading. Read the book itself just like a book, not like an editor. It’s surprising how many errors you can find when you’re not looking for them. If none are found even after the line edit and the casual read, print off a proof! And then read it when it arrives. Same thing, line by line editing. This isn’t a casual read, this is a strict one. It has to be perfect. I wouldn’t trust it to be perfect the first time, so read it twice if so. Yes, that will take a lot of time. Spending every moment reading a book you’ve probably read ten times already, at least 4 of those times being “final” versions, is a pain.

But if your book is good, it should still be fine to read. And that’s the best thing I’ve discovered. Of course, the author is biased toward their own work. But we all get sick of even our favorite things. Being able to stand your own work, time and time again, through the pain of errors and revision, means something. It means you’ve written something you would actually read. Congratulations. Now make sure you revise it, again. That’s the one constant part of doing everything yourself.

554 words that I could have used in a novel.

About James Ashman

I write books of the fantasy, heroic, and adventure types. So far. I'm an author who loves fantastic stories.
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