One of the greatest feelings in the world is when we realize that we’ve just finished writing a book. But when we go back to read it, sometimes we question whether it’s good enough to publish or not. That’s when the imposter syndrome starts to set in, and we feel like failures.
Remember this: Every new and veteran author revises their work and hires editors, so it is never the end of your writing career if you feel like you wrote a low-quality book.
As a published nonfiction author, poet, and novelist, I still go through that “imposter” phase when I reach the end of a rough draft, but I’ve created a process that can help you get through this challenge.
Step One: Walk Away and Forget About It
Writing can be a really intense job that sucks away all our energy—and sometimes, for a few minutes, our will to live. You need to give yourself time to escape the world you created in your book to clear your mind about you’ve finished writing. So, I never recommend jumping right from “The End” into revising right away. Take a short vacation from writing and reward yourself with a treat, trip, or fun night out. You deserve it!
Step Two: The Alpha Reader Process
There are three different types of readers who will look over your book before it’s published: alpha readers, beta readers, and sensitivity readers. (We’ll talk about the two other types of readers in another blog post.) Different people have different definitions for what an alpha reader is, but it all boils down to one thing—the alpha reader is either your first reader or first group of readers who reads your book after you’ve written that first draft. I recommend finding at least two willing alpha readers to read your book to give you some objective feedback on what you’ve created.
Step Three: Revise Based on Reader Feedback
After you’ve received feedback from your alpha readers, you will sit down and decide what feedback resonated with you the most. First, focus on the positive feedback and let that flow through you to give you a renewed sense of purpose. Then, look for any commentary they gave you that pointed out weaknesses or areas that need improvement. It’s not essential that you address all of their concerns, but it’s important that you consider how their suggestions can improve your narrative. And it’s especially important to pay attention to any duplicate feedback you receive from multiple readers. It’s likely any potential readers who read your book after it’s published will notice the same things.
Step Four: Read, Revise, and Revise Some More
After you’ve revised based on the feedback you received from your alpha readers, it’s time for you to make your own assessment of your book. For this read-through, I highly recommend that you read your entire book out loud. This will force you to slow down and really take in the words you’ve written. It will isolate any passages that don’t make sense, and it will also make it easier to notice typos along the way.
Don’t make any changes yet during this read-through. I write all my proposed revisions down in a notebook, or I record them in a new word-processing document. Then, I look at the list and make a few changes per day, starting first with the easiest change, moving toward the most challenging ones. Take as much time as you need to with this step to prevent burnout—because you’re going to be making more changes once you start working with your editor.
Step Five: Now, You Are Ready for an Edit
If you’ve never hired an editor before, this may be a challenging task for you, but we can make it much easier! Author Academy Elite has a talented group of editors we can match you with. Once you fill out the intake form, one of our managing editors at The Guild will contact you and perform an assessment on your manuscript to help you isolate what type of editor you’ll need. Then, your managing editor will send you some sample edits done on a small portion of your manuscript so you can decide which editor did the best job, and you can also get a taste of which editor’s style matches your own.
All of our editors are vetted, experienced, and managed by our team of accomplished managing editors. We all work hard to ensure that the end result you dream of is the one you will eventually hold in your hands once your edit is complete. The sample-edit process is free, and you’re under no obligation to hire any of our editors if you feel they aren’t a good fit for your writing dream.
Have any questions about the writing or editing process? Need help publishing your book the right way? If so, complete this simple form and talk with one of our publishing consultants. Or leave a comment here!
We’d love to have a conversation about how we can help you finish writing your book or help you revise your manuscript on the way to achieving your dream of becoming a successful author.