I was once asked on social media by a fellow writer: how many drafts does someone write before their book is finished? This is a difficult question to answer, in that there is no “right” answer. You write as many drafts needed until the book’s events feel cohesive, the dialogue seems realistic and snappy, and the world-building makes sense.
For some authors, like Lee Child, only one draft is reportedly written before sending it off to editors. That is not the norm, especially when you’re a newer author. Although the drafting process can be different for each writer, there is a basic guideline to follow. In this blog post, we will share how to draft a book from start to finish.
8 Steps to Draft a Book
1. Write The First Draft As Fast As You Can
Stephen King stated in his fantastic manual “On Writing” that a first draft should be done in no more than three months. That equals out to around 44,000 words a month if you write 2,000 words a day and take weekends off, ending with an 88,000-word first draft manuscript in two months.
2. Let It Sit For Several Weeks
This is the part that most indie authors have trouble with for one reason: we can control our publication process. Just because you can choose to redraft and upload it to online distributors right away doesn’t mean you should. Leave the manuscript alone to work on other things. Allow for space between you and the story for at least a week or two (though Stephen King recommends six weeks).
3. Read the Entirety of the Manuscript
Don’t change the actual manuscript. Making notes of changes on Post-Its or a notebook. Some indie authors, like NYT best-seller J.F. Penn, print out their manuscript and hand-write changes in the margins, scribbling out sentences or entire scenes, and outlining additional scenes that must be added.
4. Write The Second Draft
For many, this is the most challenging step. World-building must be refined (how exactly does your flying ship work? Magic? Technology?). Characters are carved out of their molds to display their motives and personality traits. Dialogue is refined to sound appropriate for each character’s style. Some authors choose to do this in conjunction with the next step:
5. Hire Midnight Publishing For a Developmental Edit
In short, a developmental edit explores all of the character relationships, world-building, and story arcs in your first or second draft. Developmental edits present substantial suggestions on how to achieve the results mentioned in step 4. Here is what a developmental edit looks like from Midnight Publishing.
Developmental edits are vital if you are a new author still grasping your voice and the publishing market in general. These criticisms will illuminate your strengths and weaknesses overall in writing, providing valuable insight on where improvement is necessary for all future works.
6. Write The Next Draft, With Developmental Edits In Mind
This is going to be a lengthy rewrite due to the possibly intensive changes your developmental editor suggests. However, it’s all for the betterment of your work!
7. Send The Revised Draft To Beta Readers
These are a few individuals who enjoy your genre and agree to read your work. They provide their opinions on anything that doesn’t make sense, kept their attention (or lost it), and more. Beta readers can be a vital part of getting your book ready. Learn where you can find them here. Once the feedback returns, calculate whether there were repeat criticisms, and consider changing those things.
8. Schedule a Copy-Edit or Proofread with Midnight Publishing
Once you’ve completed the next draft with beta reader feedback, now it’s time to fix those grammatical errors. There are two levels of editing when it comes to grammatical changes. Copy-editing adjusts sentence structure for better flow, replaces repeat words, and analyzes continuity issues. A proofread will fix grammatical issues like improper punctuation, indentation, spelling, and the occasional word replacement. Midnight Publishing does both.
Midnight Publishing prides itself on offering the best services for every individual author. Whether you need proofreading or a copy-edit, we can help. Contact us anytime to discuss working together. Also, don’t forget to check out our expert-curated guides on the publishing industry.