Phase Three of the Authorneer’s Journey is what most people think of when they think of what authors do: writing and editing your book. However, it is only one piece of the overall puzzle. As you learned in episodes three and five, there are things you need to do before you begin to write. But now that all that pre-work is done, the writing and editing phase can begin.
Audio for Episode 7: The Authorneer’s Journey, Part 3 – Writing and Editing Your Book
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Transcript for Episode 7: The Authorneer’s Journey, Part 3 – Writing and Editing Your Book
NOTE: Due to some ad libbing, this may not be an exact transcript.
Hello! And welcome to The Author’s Switch, a podcast dedicated to helping aspiring and new authors turn on The Author’s Switch to success in their mind. This is Episode number 7. If you missed any past episodes – especially episodes 3 and 5 in October and December – go to authorswitch.com to find them.
I’m your host Carma Spence, author of five books, including the award-winning and bestselling Public Speaking Super Powers.
You may be wondering why I emphasized catching episodes 3 and 5 of this podcast. Well, in those episodes I talked about the first and second steps in the Authorneer’s Journey, and in this episode, I’m going to share the third step. These episodes are part of an eight-episode series on the Authorneer’s journey.
Now, I assure you that each episode can stand on its own and you will gain valuable information about the various parts of the writing, publishing, and marketing a book journey from each episode individually. However, they will help you more effectively if you listen to them all because they will give you a more holistic view of what goes into making a living as an author.
Well, enough explanation. Let’s get into the meat of the content, shall we? The third step in the Authorneer’s Journey is when you begin writing and editing your book — the part of being an author that most people think of.
Now, in my experience writing my own books, and in speaking with and working with other authors, I’ve noticed something interesting: Starting a book is the hardest part … if you’ve never written a book before.
Once you’ve written a book, you discover that starting a book is really quite easy, it is finishing a book that is hard!
But even that doesn’t need to be the case if you have a system and you work that system. And what I’m going to share with you today is a system that has worked very well for me on several of my books … even my fiction books!
But, this system only works, if you’ve done the pre-work I discussed in episode 5. So, if you haven’t listened to that episode yet, pause this one now, and go listen to it. I’ll wait.
There. You start with an outline. Your outline is your roadmap for where your book starts, ends, and travels in between. An outline works fantastically for a nonfiction book. It works well for a fiction book, too, if you allow it to be flexible.
Here’s how you write your book: Select a chunk from your outline. It can be at the beginning. It can be at the end. It can be somewhere in between. It doesn’t matter. Select one and write it.
Then select another and write that one.
And so forth until you’ve written every chunk included in your outline.
Now, you go back and pull all those chunks together in order with transitions. Sometimes you’ll have to do some re-writing to make things fit, but that’s OK – and a lot less painful than writing straight through.
Voila! You’ve got yourself a decent first draft! Set it down. Celebrate. Don’t come back to it for at least a week. Work on something else. Work on nothing. Just don’t work on that for a week. You need to let your mind rest so you can see the manuscript with fresh eyes.
If you want to be doing something for this book during this time, you can recruit some beta readers. You’ll want one to five beta readers to read your second draft to help you fine-tune it and make it the best it can be. I often use my husband as my beta reader, but many authors recruit people outside their family as beta readers.
An ideal beta reader is someone who will be able to provide constructive feedback. You don’t want someone who will be unduly mean or give you irrelevant feedback.
OK, it’s been about a week. Next up is to self-edit the first draft. But before we do that, here is a brief commercial break.
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Hello! And welcome back to The Author’s Switch, the podcast dedicated to helping aspiring and new authors turn on The Author’s Switch to success in their minds. I’m your host, Carma Spence, author of the bestselling and award-winning book Public Speaking Super Powers.
We return to talking about writing and editing your book. Before the break, I talked about working from an outline to create your first draft manuscript. I emphasized the importance of letting that first draft rest for at least a week before working on it again. And I touched on recruiting beta readers.
Now that you’ve been away from your work a sufficient amount of time for it to be relatively fresh it is time to massage it into a second draft. I recommend you read it through three times with an eye out for three different things:
- Read it for flow: Are the ideas in a logical order? Do the transitions work well? Does the book read well as a whole?
- Proof read: Now you can get nitpicky. Use spell-check. Use Grammarly. Break out the Strunk and White. Make sure you are consistent with how you use your terms.
Read it one more time to make sure you didn’t miss anything.
Repeat any of these steps, as necessary. I’ve sometimes had to read a manuscript at this stage as often as 10 times.
Now that you’ve polished your manuscript as best as you can do on your own, it is ready for your beta reader – or readers.
Use their feedback to improve the manuscript further. Here are the guidelines I use when incorporating other people’s feedback on my manuscripts:
- Use what makes sense
- Leave out what doesn’t
- Modify my content when the comments show that I wrote wasn’t clear
Then I self-edit one more time until I get the manuscript as clean as I can.
Now it is time to hire a professional editor to work on the manuscript. Depending on your level of experience, you may need a substantive editor who will look at the flow and substance of your book or a copyeditor who will look at the wording of your book. Before it goes to print, you’ll also need a proofreader to make sure that no errors were missed by the editors – or got added in by the designer along the way.
What do you do while your beta readers and editor are working away on your manuscript? You are not twiddling your thumbs nor biting your nails. You’re working on your book’s supplemental copy.
You will need an author bio for the back of the book and possibly the back cover.
You’ll need to write any back matter – offers, other books, and so forth.
You’ll need to draft a compelling book description for your sales page and for the book page on Amazon, as well as for the back of the book.
If you plan to include acknowledgments, write those, as well.
As you can see, there is a lot that goes into writing and editing your book. However, it is not hard if you have a system and work that system. It is just a matter of taking one step at a time and moving progressively forward until the book is done.
The step in the Authorneer’s Journey is Layout and Design. I’ll talk about that in episode 9 of The Author’s Switch in the second half of February. Between now and then, in episode 8, I’ll be chatting with Franciska Kosman about podcasting. I hope you’ll tune in!
Until then, this is your host, Carma Spence, signing off. Ciao!
About The Author Switch
The Author Switch is a podcast dedicated to helping experts, entrepreneurs, and small business owners turn on The Author Switch — and keep it on — so that they can leverage the power of books to take their businesses to a whole new dimension. You learn more about the show on its page.