James M. Patrick

The Author

The Writing Process
Final Draft

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After spending weeks, months and in some cases years, the entire writing process has finally reached the final stage. From pre-writing, to your working/first draft, onto your polished draft, to the heart retching editing/proofreading stage and you now have the final draft of your manuscript in your trembling hands. As you scroll through your manuscript, you may think that all of your work is complete, but in actuality, you have only reached the end of phase one, and are about to enter Phase Two. Don’t fall into a false sense of security, there is still more work to do.

Just Got my Manuscript From my Editor/Proofreader

As excited as you may be when you get your manuscript back from your editor, don’t let the emotion take over. Before anything, you need to review your copy. Just because you paid an editor, it doesn’t mean they did a thorough job. (Trust me, I speak from experience. I will have a lesson learned blog all about it.) Do a quick scan of the document. If you have used a program such as Microsoft Word, compare the pre and post edited copy as well as track changes. Know what was changed and make sure it has been changed to your liking.

Before you move on to things such as beta readers or promotional reviewers, it is a good idea to take a good look and give the manuscript a complete read through. Now, as I said in the blog about editing and proofreading, it is nearly impossible for an author to edit their own work. But, there is a trick that I recently learned to aid you in doing just that.

The trick is simple, read along with your manuscript while you listen to it being read aloud. No, I am not talking about making your spouse or kids sit at your desk and reading aloud to you. There are many tools available to you that serve the purpose. If you own a Kindle, you can upload your manuscript to it and use the text to speech feature. There are also a wide range of programs and apps available that have the text to speech feature. It is an incredible tool that many overlook or simply don’t know about. You would be surprised of the errors you can find just by listening.

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It All Looks Good, Now What?

Even though you may believe everything about your book is now ready to submit to publishers, agents or ready for self-publishing, it is a good idea to take just one more step. Have your book reviewed by some trusted beta readers.

Up until this time, your manuscript was in the alpha stage. This means that everyone involved in your process has been handled by developers. Yes, including your editor. The beta stage is where you take your product and have it “tested (read)” by people who were not part of the development. They will read your manuscript and provide you with feedback on any errors they find or any issues they have with the plot or story itself. It is possible that after your beta reads, you may have to go back and make some changes that need to be proofread again. Don’t get discouraged if this is the case. This is what your beta readers are for. It’s all about getting the best product released to your readers.

In the coming weeks, we will be exploring Phase Two of your manuscript, the marketing and release of your book. The series will be primarily directed toward indie authors who are going through the self-publishing process. Up until now, Phase One can go for anyone writing a book. Once the first phase is complete, you can make the decision to self publish or try the traditional publishing route. If you do decide on self publishing, the next series on marketing is just for you. Until then, keep your pens, pencils or computer keys going and write your hearts out.

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