One universal thing about being a writer, no matter which path you choose for publication, is that you will have to edit. No one, not even the greats that you look up to and admire, have written a first draft and it be so perfect that it needs no editing. I know that a lot of people don't like the idea that what they're writing is garbage, and I'm not fond of it either. It's one of the reasons I will edit as I go, but that's a topic for another day. The point isn't that you shouldn't finish your first draft because it won't be perfect, it's that you should expect to have to go back and do some revisions or edits, or whatever you want to call them, and make it all that much better.
So what can I share with you that makes this better? What tips can I pass on, after revising and editing several books, and having been through the indie process a number of times? I'm glad you asked, because today I'm gonna be letting you know all about the self-editing process and what you can do to make it feel better for you as the author, and also bring out the flaws in that first draft.
#1 READ THROUGH FIRST
I think this should be obvious, but depending on how long it's taken you to write the first draft, and depending on how much planning went into it, you may not have a good enough idea of things at the start and in the middle as you would the things you just wrote. So my first step is always to have at least one, but usually two, read throughs. Try and do as much of the read through in the same session as you can, this means that you might spot mistakes that you missed before simply because you're tired or forgot the part you left off at.
#2 MAKE NOTES
Even if you're a pantser, or like me, a mixture of the two, notes are going to be the thing that saves you. I generally do at least two full read-throughs and make copious notes along the way. If something doesn't make sense, or if I spot something later that contradicts something earlier on, then I make notes on it. I make sure that I have a note, either in the document, or in a notebook, whatever works for you, because that way when I go back to edit, then I know that I've got ideas of what needs to change and where.
#3 SPOT A PLOTHOLE, DON'T FIX INSTANTLY
This is one that appeals to me because of the way I do the self-edit/revisions. If I see a plothole, I won't always fix it instantly, I'll note it down, mark it in the text so it doesn't get mixed, and then I'll brainstorm ideas that might work. I do this because while sometimes it ends up being the first idea I thought of, sometimes the best ideas take a while to come to fruition. I'll brainstorm ideas in a notebook so that I have a record of everything and allow the ideas to kind percolate so that when I do go back to make the changes, I know I've really given this some serious thought.
#4 READ AGAIN AFTER YOU'VE MADE CHANGES
This one should be obvious, but once you've started to go through and fixed everything, make sure you read the manuscript through completely again, just in case. You'd be amazed how many things I've picked up on because of this. I've spotted spelling errors, or names wrong, or even just more plotholes that I missed the last time. The self-editing phase should not be rushed and should take as long as it needs to. For some people that's a few drafts, for others it's a lot more. There is no one size fits all thing here.
So there we go, those are my four tips when it comes to the self-editing process. As I said above, every single writer will go through this, and you may find that you develop your own way of doing things, and that's great. So long as it works for you, it doesn't matter how you approach it. I have been doing the self-edit for years and while I've had some books that are pretty much an easier edit than others, I also have never written a first draft and called it perfect, because that just doesn't exist!
Any questions, lemme know in the comments below!