Final Read Through: Procedures for Preparing a Novel for Publication

These past few days, I’ve started the final, absolute final, farewell tour of my eyes on my manuscript before it releases on September 15th. Before I explain the process of what my concluding read entails, let me explain how I got here. It may, or may not, be instructive for others who are writing a novel. There’s no right or wrong way or right or wrong procedure to get there. But this is my experience, and since this is my fifth novel, I’m getting a number of built up hours behind each new writing. So here goes. How I go about getting a novel ready for publication:

  1. Write a draft. Hopefully a good one.
  2. Write a second draft. Make major changes as needed.
  3. Do a line-by-line read-through of the second draft. Edit and revise as much or as little as needed. This is, in essence, the third draft.
  4. Find beta readers. I usually send this draft out to about five of my trusted beta readers. I ask for a brutally honest assessment. For example, on this novel, I immediately felt some push-back from three of my beta readers. I knew something was wrong. I notified all of them that they should stop reading because I wanted to do a major re-write based on the initial feedback I received from them.
  5. If needed, do a MAJOR re-write based on feedback.
  6. My beta readers graciously agreed to re-read the new draft. The results were much more positive. I’m SO grateful for my beta readers. I should write another post just extolling their virtue. I will!
  7. After this re-write and feedback, I read the entire manuscript again, this time getting it ready for my editor. I tried to be meticulous and catch as many typos and mistakes as possible.
  8. Finally, sent the book to my editor. She did a thorough assessment of the manuscript from everything from grammar, to typos, to mis-characterizations, to holes in plot, etc…
  9. Based on my editor’s feedback, I went over the entire manuscript again.
  10. At this point, I created my Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) to be readied for review. I set a release date (this particular time about two months from step 5 – three or four months is probably ideal) then I started to query book reviewers and send out ARC copies to interested parties. I’m still working through this process right now and have already sent out a bunch of review copies.
  11. As step 10 continues towards release date, I start my FINAL read-through. Hey look, I made it back to the beginning of this post.

That’s my procedure. I’ve refined it a lot over the years. My first novel was too hastily released, but since I’ve learned that time is essential to let the book mature. Are there improvements to these procedures that I could make? Certainly. It’s a process which I am continually refining.

Now concerning the final read-through that I’m currently on, honestly, I wasn’t looking forward to it. I feel like I’m finished with that story and ready to move on. But I’m forcing myself to read at least one chapter a day, and boy am I glad I did.

Why?

Because I’m seeing the book differently than I ever have before. Because it has already gone through the above procedures, it reads differently than any other time I read it. I’m pleased with the flow. Because the mistakes are few and far between, I can just sit back and enjoy the story, even though I know how it’s going to turn out.

The changes I’m making at this point are mainly cosmetic. I’m finding very few outright errors – if any – but I am finding some phrasing which I am changing and some unnecessary words which I am deleting. It’s become a much more enjoyable process than I anticipated. It’s also getting me more excited for its release.

I hope this is helpful for someone. I’d love to hear about your pre-release procedures.

“Which Half David” – confidently releasing on September 15 because of this eleven step procedure.

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