How Many Book Drafts Are Too Many?

In the first week of April, I focused on writing a third draft. This time around, it was not a complete rewrite. I sent draft two to my kindle and noticed that, though all the plot points were there, 6.5k words wasn’t enough to captivate the readers. I’d jerked the reader from scene to scene with no time to attach themselves to the characters.

In draft three, I focused on fleshing out the content and adjusting text to avoid contradictions. The story got up to 10k and showed way more character depth. It’s hard to keep changing the story. It can feel like it’s never going to end, but it results in a story that’s way better than the first or even second draft.

Now, in the second week of April, I’m writing draft four. All of the story scenes have been defined. There’s no need for adding more or cutting. Draft four is where I look at the chapters one at a time and see if they’re a scene or sequel. If they aren’t, I take a few minutes to restructure them, jot down a few MRU, and rewrite the chapter. Once it fits, I revise it to hit those MRUs for the whole chapter.

The fifth and final draft is my edits. I run the chapter through my pro-writing aid software. Then, I read through it and have a text to speech program read it to me. The last step is reading it one word at a time backwards.

It’s painstaking.

This type of process is not necessary if you’ll be paying a professional to edit your book. They’ll run it through their own programs. However, if you want the best editing rate or you will be your own editor, these steps should make your book at least good enough that no one leaves a review about the editing.

Proofreading services are fairly affordable. After an intense self-edit and multiple drafts, I recommend paying for a proofread.

Keep in mind that this process might not be enough to make your book the best it can be. No one can objectively analyze their work. If you don’t hire a professional or have wonderful beta readers, you might miss issues or strip voice in your strive for perfection. This is an issue I have. I’ll send the draft to betas and they’ll have very minor complains, if any, yet I’ll go through three more drafts. Luckily, they always say the new draft is better.

Even with help, there is such a thing as too many drafts. If you’re a perfectionist, give yourself a deadline or a specific amount of drafts you’re allowed to do so that you actually publish your stories. My limit is five. If you get a content edit, you might be fine with three or four. I know authors who do eight before sending it to their editor.

The amount of drafts you need will depend of your ability to detect and fix problems in your work. This can take years to develop. I recommend beta reading for others and critiquing the books you read. The more you read the better you’ll write.

How many drafts do you do?

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