How Much Editing Does a Book Really Need? – Guest Jody Hedlund

Not so very long ago, I read an article about the editing that goes into the making of a book. I found it interesting and thought you might appreciate this behind-the-scenes look too. Please welcome my guest, author Jody Hedlund.

How Much Editing Does a Book Really Need?
by Jody Hedlund


I just finished major edits on a book that’s releasing next summer (2019). It was a tough edit and took me a couple of weeks of full time work. Needless to say, when I got to the end, I was drained.
However, even though I’m done, I’m still in the early stages of editing and will have a lot more to do before the book hits shelves.
Here’s a brief overview of the editing process that most of my books go through:
Edit #1 (Self-Edit): After writing the first draft, I self-edit the book before turning it in to my publisher. Depending upon how much time I have (before it’s due to my publisher), I like to let the book sit (simmer) for a few weeks to a couple of months before I self-edit so that I can gain some perspective before diving back in.
Edit #2 (Substantive Edit): Once I’m done self-editing, I turn in the book to my publisher. They have a committee of editors read the book. Based on their collaborative feedback, they send me pages of rewrite notes consisting of both major and minor points within the book that need strengthening. I labor for hours and hours to reshape (and delete) portions of the book. (This is the edit I just recently completed.) 
Edit #3 (Line Edit): I give the book back to my editor who reads the book again. This time he’ll check the book for clarity, sentence structure, repetitions, historical accuracy, word choices, etc. Once he’s done making his changes, he’ll send the book back to me. I’ll read the book again. Not only will I address the issues that my line editor has spotted, but I’ll read the book aloud, editing as I go and paying close attention to the flow of the book, word choices, repetitions, and anything else that sounds “off.”
Edit #4 (Copy Edit): After I turn the manuscript in to my publisher again, my editor will pass the book along to several copy-editors who will then scour the book to check for minute details (commas, periods, spelling, etc.).
Edit #5 (Proof): I’ll get my galleys (a printed version of the book showing how it will look on the page). That will be the final time I can make any minor changes. Once I turn it back in, then it’s mostly ready for publication.
What does all that editing really mean? I’ll attempt to answer a few questions.
1. Wow, you might be saying. That’s a LOT of editing. Does every book need so much?
Yes, every book needs a LOT of editing whether it’s independently or traditionally published. No matter how talented the author, multiple layers of editing are essential (including feedback from an objective and skilled editor).
Since I’ve done both types of publication (indie and traditional), I can say my process is very lengthy and rigorous for both methods with only a few minor differences. I push myself hard, and I rely on many others for feedback and help polishing my books.
After working with several traditional publishers, I’ve learned that not all publishers offer the same depth of editing. Of course not all editors are equal either. But I attempt to glean as much as I can from each editor I work with.
2. If a book needs extensive editing, why do publishers agree to publish it? Especially with so many other books out there that might not need as much work?
First, publishers can spot when an author’s writing skills and story-telling ability are of publishable quality. And they can also spot novels that fit the needs of their target readers, even if there are some parts of a book that may need adjusting to give it broader appeal.
Second, no writer anywhere is perfect. Published or not, we can’t produce a perfect first draft. We’ll never be too good for objective feedback. We’ll always be too enmeshed in our stories to see the bigger picture. Thus, even well-told stories and talented authors undergo editing, sometimes even extended editing.
3. Is it hard to let go of your story and bend it to the will of others?
Yes and no. Yes, it’s never easy to plan a character arc or plot line and then have someone tell you “your readers won’t like this,” and then have to go back through the entire book and weave in something else. It’s downright hard and painful.
But, after writing so many books, growing in self-awareness of my style, and learning what my readers like, I’ve become much better at deciphering feedback—utilizing what I need to make the story better but then letting go of things that don’t mesh with my voice.
In fact, I’ve reached a point in my appreciation of editing where I’m not afraid to go back to my editor and say, “This isn’t enough feedback. Please give me more.”
What do you think of the editing process? Did you realize the collaborative effort that goes into one book?


Please visit the original article here.



About Jody Hedlund:

Jody Hedlund is the best-selling author of over twenty historicals for both adults and teens and is the winner of numerous awards including the Christy, Carol, and Christian Book Award. She lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy teens, and five spoiled cats. Visit her at jodyhedlund.com.

Mrs. Hedlund has two new books available now.

About A Loyal Heart:

He’s taken her as his prisoner. But she’s holding his heart captive. In gaining their freedom, will they lose what matters most?

When Lady Olivia’s castle is besieged, she and her sister are taken captive and held for ransom by her father’s enemy, Lord Pitt. Loyalty to family means everything to Olivia. She’ll save her sister at any cost and do whatever her father asks—even if that means obeying his order to steal a sacred relic from her captor.

As Lord Pitt’s commander, Sir Aldric is in charge of the beautiful but feisty new prisoner. He has his hands full attempting to keep Lady Olivia out of trouble. When Lord Pitt throws her in the dungeon and threatens to hang her for stealing, Aldric conceives a plot to save Olivia’s life—betrothal to him.

Can Olivia give up the prestigious match her father has arranged with a wealthy marquess in order to marry a lowly knight like Aldric? And can Aldric move beyond his past mistakes to embrace love again? When loyalties are tested, they’re thrust into danger that could cost them their love and their lives.

About Searching for You:

Despite years on the run, Sophie Neumann is determined to care for two young children. She won\’t abandon them the way she thinks her older sisters abandoned her. But times are growing desperate, and when she falls in with the wrong crowd and witnesses a crime, she realizes fleeing 1850s New York is her only option.

Disappearing with her two young charges into a group of orphans heading west by train, Sophie hopes to find safety and a happy life. When the train stops in Illinois for the first placement of orphans, Sophie faces the most difficult choice of her life.

Reinhold Weiss has finally purchased his own small farm. With mounting debts, a harvest to bring in, and past scars that haunt him, he’s in no position to give his heart away . . . but can he say no when his long-lost friend shows up on a nearby train pleading for his help?


{In case anyone is wondering, I (Andrea) am about to enter the self-edit phase of the book I’m currently writing.}

December’s reading challenge is Christmastime!

4 thoughts on “How Much Editing Does a Book Really Need? – Guest Jody Hedlund

  1. Great article to let fellow writers, and readers, know the time and tremendous effort that goes into the publishing of a single book to make it accurate and enjoyable! Well done, Jody!!Thanks for being a great hostess, Andrea, and I hope your editing goes well! I'm looking forward to reading your novel!

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