How long should proofreading and editing take?
A good novel can take years to write! I have heard that when an author has finished writing - it could take twice as long, time wise, to proofread and edit the book properly and that even then the final proof needs re-checking before it gets published. Has anyone experienced this? I have read a few books that were very badly edited, many self published, the authors declare themselves 'prolific writers' who can produced a good novel in less than three months. I am not convinced...
You're asking a number of questions at once Leni--and none of tem is easy. As for the "prolific" writer who can produce a "good" novel in three months. Once, maybe. All the time.......bull! Turning to editing and proofreading--two HUGELY different parts of the process: the first is substantive, affecting often whole sections of the book or establishing entirely new directions; the second is mechanical (ie, it it correct, is this what she wrote? How long? Depends on how good the author is. Really careful writer, editing could be a couple of weeks for a 400 page book. Hasty writer, could be many months.
Backing up a little -- your question really needs a bit more focus, maybe. What do you think, Leni? As it stands, you're essentially asking, how long to work on a novel. Hmmm
Thanks for responding, Yes, hmmm, I am basically settling a disagreement between myself and a 'prolific' writer who can write a good story, has a problem with English Grammar & punctuation & thinks the whole process can complete within 3 mont
Joyce Carol Oates cranks out a LOT of really good literature, and unlike James Patterson, she actually writes all of hers. Unfortunately we don't all have her resources, and we can't possibly proofread and edit at the same pace as her team.
Must be so great to have that kind of back up.
I have written two short, non-fiction Kindle books. Here's my process:
First draft, break, rewrite, second draft, break, thorough self-edit, break, proofread, send to beta readers and critique partner, rewrite and self-edit, self-proof, send to editor, get edits, incorporate new edits, another self-proof, final proof by proofreader, final proof by me, publish.
Following this process (for SHORT non-fiction books) I STILL found one or two typos after publication. AND I am a fully qualified, experienced editor who does paid editing work for others (even editors can't edit their own writing. You become too familiar with it and gloss over mistakes you would spot in someone else's work). You can't underestimate how much time, effort and money you need to put into editing.
You can still be prolific. Work on new stuff during your breaks and while others are beta reading, critiquing and editing your manuscript.
For the final, final proof--read the text BACKWARDS. that way you can'r be lulled into inattention by the sheer magic of your beautiful prose....because you're looking at each word in isolation from all others.
Thank you Karen Banes & moonfroth (interesting name) - very useful information here and evidence of the number of times re-reads and re-writes are necessary...even for prolific writers...
I've also heard the 'read the text backwards' advice but found it impossible with a book length project (even a short one). Don't think I could do it with a novel. I have used it for proofing short pieces though and it does work!
Good advice or not, I could never read anything backward. My brain would short-circuit.
Reading backwards would be kind of interesting though - puts a whole new perspective on the novel being read....
It depends on the writing. I have one book, very little editing needed. The book I am editing now took almost two years to write and two to edit. Grrrrrrhh. Don't like editing
My first novel took about three months to write and about a month to proofread and edit. Was it 100% perfect, free from any flaw? I seriously doubt it, but then again, I have NEVER--seriously--read any book that was 100% perfect, free from any flaw. In my case, I had a good team of proofreaders, and I'm happy with the result; it's close enough to perfect for me. The second novel took longer to write but about the same to proofread and edit, and again, I'm happy with the result. All that said, there are no hard and fast rules. A lot of different variables will affect how long the process takes, and "it depends" is the best answer to your question. Your end result is far more important than how long the process takes, and I seriously doubt if it will be the same each time. Live and learn.
I agree, I regularly find little typos in books that I have bought off the shelf in Waterstones, I find more mistakes in the self published books.
Oh, yeah, the self-published books are far worse, and that drives me absolutely crazy. It creates a very negative image that folks naturally tend to generalize to all self-published authors, and it makes it more difficult for us to sell our books.
I think people get put off by all the badly edited books out their at the moment - they'll end up sticking to the known published authors..
Yep, exactly right--and too bad. There are a lot of really good self-published books out there, but unfortunately the whole of self-publishing is tarnished by the bad ones.
I find hammering out a first draft to be relatively easy. Provided you have the elements set up before starting (characters, general plot and setting). However I am way too hard on myself when it comes to editing. The first book I wrote, I spent roughly eight years editing. Granted, I was going to college at the time, but the whole experience has made me terrified of beginning the process again. I have several other drafts waiting to get refined, but I'm reluctant to start them because of how awful the experience with the last one was.
Honestly, I think a good time frame is 2 years for the entire book. Assuming it's roughly 300 pages long. The first year you spend writing it, which might take a few months depending on how interesting it is. Then you take a long break away from it so you can forget about it and maybe get some beta readers. The second year is then spent getting more readers and editing. And, lastly, before you publish it, there should be a good, thorough proofread to make sure there aren't stupid errors like spelling mistakes and cliches. But, don't think this means you'll be putting out a new book every 2 years, as you can be doing multiple projects at a time. Now I just need to figure out how to shorten my own turnaround time.
My thoughts exactly afterall if something is worth doing it's worth doing well. Time spent improving it until you are finally satisfied that it is finished & ready to be published I reckon 2 years is a good framework, beta readers great idea. Th
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