The editing process, 2013-style

Jeroen Steenbeeke  
Every once in a while, I get e-mails from aspiring writers asking me all sorts of questions. I don't mind these (and please keep sending them in guys!), but every so often I get a question that I think would be interesting to address in a blog post. The question in particular was "When is a book ready to be released?", and it really got me thinking about my own book release process.

As my long-time readers know, the first edition of Gift of the Destroyer was released too early. It had been read by plenty of proofreaders, but not by any qualified editor, and contained a lot of glaring errors. The second edition fixed quite a few of those (thanks to the work of Gareth, who volunteered to point out errors in exchange for a free copy), but it wasn't until the third edition (the one edited by Ashley Davis) that I was completely satisfied with the quality of the book. Naturally, I adapted my editing process accordingly after this experience, and The Raven's Endgame had no such problems.

Now that I'm close to finishing the first draft of the final book in the Hunter in the Dark trilogy, I once again have to get the editing process going. This process is as follows:
  1. Re-read and adjust - I read the entire book, once forward, once backward, and adjust scenes where I feel the wording is weak
  2. Automated error-check - I use an automated checker similar to EditMinion that points out potential passive voice issues, weak sentences and errors I often make
  3. Alpha Readers - They get a month to read the book, and point out scenes and storyline elements that need improvement
  4. Process feedback - This involves re-reading and rewriting any section that the alpha readers point out
  5. Automated error-check - Repeat of step 2
  6. Editor - Ashley Davis checks the manuscript
  7. Process feedback - Fix everything Ashley pointed out
  8. Beta Readers - Read the manuscript to find any remaining spelling errors, as well as errors I might have made while processing Ashley's feedback
  9. Final feedback processing and read-through
  10. Publish!

With this process, I feel I can deliver quality books in reasonable time. Also, having a clear idea of the process I need to follow makes it easier for me to give estimates on when a book is finished. If anyone has any further questions about this process, feel free to comment, or use the contact form!