My Editing Process

strive for progress not perfection

I don’t know if anyone is interested in this topic, but it keeps poking at me to write about, so I figure I might as well get it down. šŸ™‚

Once in a while, someone will ask me, “Do you edit your books?” They also ask, “Are you the only person who edits your book?”

Yes, I edit my books. I edit them myself and I have a professional editor.

Without further ado, here is my process…

1. Initial edits. This is done by myself.

After I finish the first draft, I wait for a short time before I go in to do my initial edits. This stage is mostly about smoothing out the flow of the story. I reword awkwardly worded sentences. I look for typos. I look for consistency and timeline errors. I read through the whole book in the course of two weeks. I will set aside a certain number of chapters to go through each day. I usually do two chapters. Any more than that, and I tend to gloss over things. Needless to say, I don’t catch everything, so this is why I send the second draft off for other people to look at.

2. I send the book out to beta readers and my editor.

I give everyone one month to go through the book. I don’t believe in rushing through the editing process, so I give them plenty of time. That way they can go at their own pace.

Beta readers are not expected to edit. It’s nice when they pick out a typo if they find it, but the main reason I have them go over the book is to find out how the story “felt” to them. Do they like it? Why or why not? Are there any weak areas that can be tightened up? I know some authors send their betas a list of questions to go through, but I don’t do that. They can give me a sentence or two to let me know what they think. I have four beta readers. These are people I consider friends because I’ve known them for so long. I trust them and respect their opinion, and what’s best is that they love romance so they have their pulse on the genre I write. In return for their help, I give them a signed paperback copy or a free ebook copy when the book comes out as a way to thank them for their help.

My editor is the one who edits. I use Lauralynn Elliott, and she’s awesome. She does more than a simple proofread. She goes through the book with a fine-tooth comb. She’s extremely thorough, which is something I appreciate. I pay Lauralynn for what she does.

3. I go through final edits myself.

After I polish up the book from the feedback I get in step 2, I put the book into a mobi file and email it to my Kindle. I listen to the book using the text-to-speech feature on my Kindle. This stage is faster than stage 1 because I’m listening to the book. When I’m done, I fix anything else that needs to be fixed, and then I upload the final book for pre-order.


Does this mean all of us catch everything? Nope. A couple of errors still fall through. When I started self-publishing, I fretted over every single typo that made it into the final version of the book. There was a 70,000 word book I had out that I got a 2-star review on because it was “riddled with errors”. It turned out, I had one typo. Just one typo, and the reader (who was actually another author) felt it necessary to ding me in a review and claim the whole book was that way. It took years to overcome the need to make my book perfect. Perfection is a myth. It doesn’t exist.

So if someone out there is struggling with the same issue I was, I urge you to let go of the need for perfection. It’s impossible. Someone out there will find fault with your book for one reason or another. Life is too short to dwell on the negative. It’s best to focus on the positive. Some authors get so scared of publishing a book with a typo that they never publish a book. It’s just sad to see stories that are loved collecting dust. I’m not going to spend my life afraid of what the critic will say.

If someone can’t read a book without getting their red pen out, that’s their problem. It’s not yours. I’ve read plenty of books that had a typo or consistency error pop up, and I’m able to move past it because I’d rather focus on the story. I’ve also seen plenty of movies and TV shows where errors have cropped up. Does it mean I can’t bring myself to watch those TV shows or movies anymore? Nope. It just means that people aren’t perfect.

I hope whoever needs to hear this will take comfort in it.

Alright, I’m getting off my soapbox. šŸ™‚

About Ruth Ann Nordin

Ruth Ann Nordin mainly writes historical western romances and Regencies. From time to time, she branches out to other genres, but her first love is historical romance. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska with her husband and a couple of children. To find out more about her books, go to
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7 Responses to My Editing Process

  1. Yup. Do the best you can and if it’s not good enough for some readers, there isn’t much you can do about it. I’ve found plenty of typos (including calling the main characters by the wrong names) in countless traditionally published books.

    • Yes, I’ve found those types of errors in traditionally published books, too, and yet you won’t find a review what says, “riddled with errors” BECAUSE the book was with a trad publisher. People tend to overlook errors in trad books because they were “professionally” edited. That just makes me roll my eyes because I know plenty of indie editors who are highly qualified.

  2. Thanks for the shout out!

    I’m so glad you self-edit first. I think some authors think they aren’t supposed to do that. Authors should always self-edit before sending out to editors.

    I had that same thing happen to one of my books. The reader said the book was full of errors. I was devastated, especially being an editor. I went over that book with a fine toothed comb, and the reader was completely wrong. I think she was just blowing smoke.

    There are some really popular authors out there who have multiple typos, and I can think of one right now. Some who have even won awards. So we do have to let go of our perfection…since humans aren’t perfect.

    • You’re an awesome editor! šŸ˜€

      I wish some people could let go of this mentality that everything needs to be perfect in a book. Do they expect everything else to be perfect? If someone goofs up while talking, do those people correct them? If something is out of place in a store, do they go up to the salesperson and raise a complaint? As the expression goes, “To err is human. To forgive is divine.” Imagine what life would be like if more people showed grace and mercy instead of criticism.

      Sometimes people who claim that a book is riddled with errors don’t know the actual grammar rules. They don’t understand the proper use of commas, how words are supposed to be spelled, etc. You know those things. You’ve helped me get a better understanding of grammar, though I do find myself slipping up from time to time. LOL It always makes me feel better to know you’ll be going over the book. šŸ˜€

  3. Sometimes I think editing is easier than writing.

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