This article breaks down the separate steps in the editing process. They may differ slightly between writers, since different writers have different ways of editing their work. Therefore, I focused rather on what has to be edited than how in the outline below.
Once you have finished your manuscript you should let it rest for a couple of weeks at least, before starting with the editing process
Stage 1: Done by the writer
Editing the bigger picture (plot, characters etc.)
Stage 2: Done by the writer
Editing on a smaller scale with a special focus on the language (cutting redundancies, making the writing more active)
Stage 3: Done by the writer
Proofreading and editing of punctuation, syntax, grammar and vocabulary
Stage 4: Done by a beta reader
Giving your manuscript to a beta reader
A beta reader shouldn’t necessarily by your mother or a friend. Find someone whom you can trust to give you an (brutally) honest opinion and who knows what they are doing. Maybe look for a critique partner in a writing club online or offline.
Stage 5: Done by the writer
Considering the feedback from your beta reader and implementing changes
You don’t have to change everything they tell you to but you should at least think about it. Maybe certain character’s actions aren’t so clear to someone who doesn’t know a characters’ backstory the way the writers does?
Receiving feedback is a very important stage, which gives you a valuable insight into how a reader experiences your text, which can be very different from the way you see it.
Stage 6: Done by the writer (and beta readers)
The following process can be repeated ad infinitum.
Stage 6a: Done by the writer
Once you have completed implementing the changes from your beta reader, repeat stage 1 for the entire manuscript and stages 2 and 3 at least for those parts your rewrote or revised.
Stage 6b: Done by the beta writer
Have the same or another beta writer read over you new manuscript.
Stage 6c: Done by the writer
Consider and implement necessary changes.
Then start over with 6a or move on to Stage 7.
Stage 7: Done by a professional editor
This is where you hire a professional editor. Depending on your manuscript, it might be a good idea to get a manuscript review first.
Stage 8: Done by a professional editor
Stage 9: Done by the writer
Implement improvement suggestions and repeated editing stages 1-3
Stage 10: Done by a professional editor
Content editing on a language level
Stage 11: Done by the writer
You receive the annotated manuscript by the editor and have to implement the changes
Stage 12: Done by a professional editor
Stage 13: Done by the writer
Viewing the changes made and final proofread
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