You would think that after you've spent several months writing and editing a book, that
revisions should be fairly straightforward.
That just wasn't the case for me.
The feedback I'd received from my publishing team fell roughly into these five buckets:
Rearrange the content to create a more cohesive story.
Break down the chapters and sentences.
Reorder sentences to increase dramatic value.
Eliminate jargon and simplify concepts
Expand on the story - make the reader feel there with you.
In summary, the report came back that the book had good structure. With these minor fixes, it would be great.
But I couldn't get started.
Somehow looking at the comments made me think "what else was I missing?" And as a result, I doubted the entire book itself, again (writing seems to cause one to go through these crises).
As I'd read through the book again, I'd wonder - is this story good enough?
Does the flow make sense?
Should I rip it apart and start from scratch?
Turns out many of the authors in the May 2022 cohort felt exactly the same.
As part of the book writing process, we have access to a team of editors and coaches who through the use of 1:1 & group collaboration sessions coach us to behave like "second-time authors". That in a nutshell is a benefit of the hybrid publishing model through New Degree Press.
Brian Bies, head of publishing at New Degree Press describes the revisions process as "building a house".
Early on in the process, as we're writing the book, we work with a development editor (DE), who's the architect, responsible for creating a consistent layout and structure of the book.
My biggest takeaway from working with the DE was that he transformed my book from a research journal into a personal story. By including more of me and my thoughts in it, it made the book unique and authentic.
Next comes the marketing and revisions editor (MRE), who's the interior designer.
Going back to the house analogy, we're now painting the walls, picking furniture, art pieces and fittings.
In the process you might make minor changes to the architecture. For instance, we might decide to add an outlet to power a fireplace and slightly change the wall dimensions to fit the appliance.
But we don't want to make major changes. This is not the time to add Roman columns to match the statue of Caesar that was placed in the living room.
As a first-time author, sometimes you think you should be adding Roman columns. In Brian's playlist (see below), he touches on this mistake that first-time authors tend to make.
I had to trust the process. My DE and I spent months on the architecture. We got it right. We debated so many things.
This is a Greek house, not a Roman one. Therefore, we're not going to be putting up the Roman columns. And there's a way to still make the statue of Caesar work.
It just needs an appropriate transition.
It was a reminder that Progess > Perfect.
The next step was to open up to receive feedback within the context of where the book needed to go. And I really got to understand the value the MRE added to the process.
The MRE helped me give life to the stories and make it fun to read in the right-size chunks.
Now it was about breaking down the tasks into clear and achievable portions. Working back from the deadline, I was able to target milestones for each week and revise with no judgement.
Focus on the comments. Make it better. Go to the next one.
Two weeks ago, I didn't know how I could do this. Today I'm close to 50% done on my revisions.
The reward was being able to share the first 6 chapters with my beta readers this morning.
There's never enough time to get everything you want done. But don't let that stop you from getting started.
Go forward and unleash yourself!