Behind the Scenes: A Look at Editing

Some might think the writing part is work, and to a point, it is.  But writing the book is the fun part of the process.  The not-so-fun part is what writers call “editing”, and editing involves many things.  It’s more than reading over the story to clear up typos.  This is why I can’t just put out a story a week after I finish the first draft.  Now, I am rushing through the editing process on Shotgun Groom because I want to have it out around November 15 for the holiday season, but ordinarily, I’d give myself a two-month window to get a book out after I finish the first draft.  Why that long?  Because I have to give my content editor and copy editor time to their part of the process while I have time to do my part. 

I’m putting a halt to all new writing except for Isaac’s Decision until I am done working on my part of the process with Shotgun Groom.  In case anyone wants to know what goes on behind the scenes once the first draft is completed, I’m going to share what I’m doing for Shotgun Groom.

1.  I read through Shotgun Groom, fix typos, reword awkward sentences, delete redundant sentences, clean up punctuation, add sentences to clarify a point in the book, change any discrepancies (like making sure characters are the same age through the whole text unless someone’s had a birthday or make sure they have the same eye color they started out with), etc.  This completes the second draft.

2.  I hand it off to my content editor who looks for historical inaccuracies, looks at overall plot cohesion, makes sure there are no unfinished subplots, makes sure the characters aren’t acting out of line from how they are portrayed overall in the text, checks for any discrepancies I missed, looks at how things are worded, etc.

3.  I go through the book again to clean up anything the content editor caught.  Some things I accept; some I don’t.  

4.  I hand it off to the copy editor who looks at the details: punctuation, grammar, typos, paragraph breaks, extra spaces in the text, headers and footers (for the paperback version), page numbers (for the paperback versions), etc.

5.  I change what needs to be changed.

6.  I listen to the book on Kindle via text-to-speech.  I hope to get the iPad next year which has the same ability to listen to books.  Listening forces me to look at the book from a different perspective.

That’s it.  It’s not complicated, but it takes time to do.  It also requires a team effort for everyone to work together on a schedule.  Like right now, I’m in the first stage of the process with Shotgun Groom.  I need to be done on Sunday night so I can email my content editor the second draft on Monday morning.  Two to three weeks is how long this person will work with it.  Then I’ll give myself a week to make any changes, which will be around November 1.  Then by Friday night, I plan to hand off the third draft to the copy editor (November 4).  The copy editor averages 3-4 days to do their part.  So around November 9-10, I’ll receive it back, make changes in a day, and spend the next 3 or 4 days listening to it and reading any passages that doesn’t sound right when I’m listening to it.  That’s how I came up with the November 15th anticipated publishing date.

For Isaac’s Decision, my anticipated done date for the first draft is no later than November 12.  If I can keep it at 1000 words a day, this is possible since I’m currently at 47,000 words and have 80,000 total as my goal.  If it takes until November 12, I’ll go a little over 80,000.  I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that.  If it does, I might have to swap Isaac’s Decision with Her Heart’s Desire since that won’t be over 70,000 words, and I’m currently at 10,000 words.  I refuse to rush a book just to get it done.  I want each book to reflect my best work, and in the past when I rushed it, it ended up needing rewriting (hence why Winning the Heart of Adrienne became Romancing Adrienne).  I learned my lesson.  I’ll swap book publishing dates and pay my editors extra to rush their part of the job to maintain my publishing schedule instead of rushing a book’s ending to have the full two months to edit. 

Right now someone might be wondering why I’m so concerned with sticking to a publishing schedule when I publish my own books and can adjust the dates any time I want.  Well, it all boils down to treating my writing as a business.  I’m not playing at a hobby.  I’m serious about my work, and I set deadlines (usually giving myself 2-4 weeks’ leeway in advance for when life rears its ugly head). 

I estimate publishing dates and do everything I can to publish around that time.  This is why even if I’m sick or not having a good day, I sit down and write until I reach my word count.  Some days are easier than others, but there are times when I don’t go to bed until 2am because I haven’t reached my word count earlier in the day.  And it’s crucial I stay off the Internet and TV for those 2.5 hours of the day in order to make my goals before midnight.  😉  If I miss a blog post, you can pretty much guess I’m catching up on my word count.

So that’s the inside look at the editing process, plus more than you wanted to know.  LOL

About Ruth Ann Nordin

Ruth Ann Nordin mainly writes historical western romances and Regencies. From time to time, she branches out to contemporaries romances and other genres (such as science fiction thrillers). For more information, please go to or check out
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2 Responses to Behind the Scenes: A Look at Editing

  1. Rose Gordon says:

    I’m jealous. You’re so organized and timely. I delegate X amount of days to one of those tasks and it nearly doubles before it’s done. What can I say? Life happens.

    • I got nothing done today. it’s frustrating to no end. But that’s why I try to set aside additional days for the days when I can’t do the work. It took me about two years to get to the point where I knew my method of making things work efficiently. I don’t always hit my goals, but at least I get close to them. 🙂 Life does happen, and sometimes when it does, it doesn’t let up.

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