My Little Revision Secret

I guess this won’t be a secret any longer!

I’ll admit that drafting a novel is not my favorite part of writing. My favorite part? Revising! I truly love it more because drafting always feels like squeezing blood from a stone for some reason. I love working with clay more than I love making the clay, I guess. That’s how I view it.

Currently I am working on my novella, Scales. It’s hard for me because it’s in the drafting stage. New world, new characters, new plot twists, new everything. And dragons! That’s the best part, of course. I love this book. It’s fun, but draining on so many levels, and I haven’t even reached the dragon part yet. Sigh.

When I get too exhausted to draft, I turn back to revising/editing/tweaking my novel, The Breakaway, which is due to my publisher in September. So, you may ask, what is this little revision secret of yours? I’ll tell you! I used to print out my drafts on paper. It was such a pain. Now, when I reach this very, very last point in my revision stage before turning a book in to my editor, I print it out using Lulu – a self-publishing site. It’s pretty simple to format the book and design a cover (although you don’t have to do anything fancy for the cover if you don’t want to). This way, I have an actual printed book. It’s incredible what I catch reading my work this way. It’s even better than on my Kindle. I can write directly in the book, too. Notes and scribbles and arrows and all sorts of junk. Can’t do that on my Kindle. I still have my copy of Monarch that I did this with before publishing it.

You might be saying, well, I don’t want to self-publish my book! But Lulu lets you keep everything private, so you can order one copy of the book and be done. Sometimes I send these copies to trusted critique partners. Lulu is more expensive than any other self-publishing site I’ve seen, but they are so easy to use, and it’s quick and easy to order a manuscript for editing. Plus I can keep the margins nice and big for lots of writing.

There’s something about holding my book in this form that helps my brain get into the – “this is going to be published soon, so you’d better make all the necessary changes NOW” mode. I think this is a good mode for any writer to get into if they’re about to send their book out for querying, submissions, anything of that sort.

To give you an idea of price, The Breakaway cost me $8.70 to print, plus shipping (usually $3 something). Monarch cost me $10.58 to print, but it was way longer than The Breakaway in draft form.

Anyway, that’s my little secret. It has been fun to keep these marked-up copies on my shelf, and it sure makes editing a lot easier for me. I only do this in the last stages, though. I couldn’t afford to do this for every draft. I use my Kindle and my laptop for those.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle

33 comments

Cherie Reich

That's a good idea to have a copy of your book like that to read during the last revision. I just wished I loved revising. I'm all about the crafting stage of the story. Then I struggle to make myself revise it.

Mary Campbell

I've heard of people doing this before and I think it's an awesome idea. Very cool to give to people to beta readers in this form. Good luck with the drafting. I hate drafting. I like molding the clay way more as well.

Rick Daley

That's a great idea. Seeing true pagination and looking for windows and orphans is easier in book form. For self-publishing, it can also give a taste for fonts, font size, and line spacing.

Dutch Henry

Wow, that is such a great idea! Never would have even realized you could do that. Definitely something to keep in mind!Thanks, Glam!

Jessica Bell

Cool idea! But I think I'd feel like I'm destroying the book if I wrote all over a copy that looked so good. LOL.

Amanda J.

That's a cool idea that I will definitely have to look into. I do think there's something easier about catching things that don't belong if it's in the format it was meant to be in. When it looks like a book, it's easier to get sucked into the story, and typos and inconsistencies stand out more if it detracts from the story. Thanks for sharing!! 😀

Amie McCracken

Great idea. I will keep that in mind!

Robin McCormack

Great idea. Looking at it in book form is a good idea. the proofreader in me likes it.

Michael Offutt

Hmmm…it's almost like role-playing only with writing instead of actual acting. Very interesting Michelle.

This is also an excellent idea for the stories I've written but have no intention of taking to market. It's an inexpensive way to start a private library.

I love revising, too. And this is an idea I'd never heard of. So thanks. I learned something new today!Ann Best, Memoir Author

Jake Henegan

I think I would like having a bound book in my hands. Of my final draft, I mean.And it would do wonders for spotting errors. So as long as it is in the very final stages (lest I decide to majorly change something, making the printed copy obsolete) I think I should do this.(I love the cover you have for Monarch in that picture, by the way)

Christauna Asay

What an amazing idea. I'm totally on that. I used to print out my stuff too until it got too expensive. That's a sight cheaper than printing at Office Max…and nicer too!

Domey Malasarn

I do this with every book too. I see more things I want to correct, and it also serves to calm me down so that I can approach revisions more patiently. That drive to see my book in print sometimes makes me sloppy!

Lisa Aldin

I did this too! But I just used my free book from National Novel Writing month. It works WONDERS!

Elle Strauss

I'd never thought of reading my ms in another format before. I think I'll at least try reading it on my e-reader before sending it away, to see what that's like. Thanks for the tip!

Cynthia Lee

What a great idea! I've never thought of printing the book with Lulu. I'm going to do that immediately. Thanks!!

Interesting and cool. Thanks for sharing!

Michelle Davidson Argyle

Thank you, everyone! I'm glad this is new to some of you and that you'll be trying it out. Jessica: Hehe, I used to feel that way, but my inner editor doesn't give a rip. LOL.Christauna: Yes, it's cheaper than Office Max or Kinkos, that I've found, and looks better, too.

Andrew Leon

That's what I did with The House on the Corner except through CreateSpace. It cost me $12.31 including shipping. I was amazed at how much more I caught because it was in my hands as a book instead of on the computer screen or printer pages.

Ricky Bush

Wow! This has never crossed my mind. Sounds like a solid idea. I did stick my manuscript on my Kindle and caught oodles of typos, but this certainly seems a good way to really get up close and personal with it.

Julie Loden

That is really cool, Michelle. Great idea. 🙂

Catherine Stine

What a fabulous idea!! I love revision too, a lot.

just-cassie.com

I'd love to do this! It would be awesome having copies of drafts like this, if only I didn't live in NZ and the cost of shipping was like, twice as much as the cost of the book itself! lol maybe one day I'll find a cost effective way of doing this 😉

Lester D. Crawford

As I write, I often feel as Scootaloo did in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic episode The Show Stoppers when, as she tried to write song lyrics, she said, "Coming up with words is like … really hard." For me, getting the first draft written is like … really hard. However, once the draft is in the machine, the fun begins. I enjoy tuning, adjusting, and making improvements to what I have written. The rewriting and editing is where I start to feel that I am actually creating a great novel.I have several people I call my "omega readers" lined up to do the final review. I priced what it would cost to print at Office Depot (that is not going to happen), but self-publishing review copies might be the solution, if the price is right. This method of providing my readers a copy for review and markup would be wonderful. (At this point, I am concerned that the size of my book will be similar to George R. R. Martin's A Dance with Dragons (dragon choking size), so I do need to do more editing.)

D. U. Okonkwo

Ah I'm much more a drafter than a reviser. Revising can be painful! But I take drafting as writing, because ti is, really, and I bash out the novel. THEN I've got to make it all make sense. Big sigh.

A Paperback Writer

"Squeezing blood from a stone." Yup. I agree. I've always felt that writing the first draft of anything, even my papers for university classes, felt like I was ripping something out of my soul to smear it onto a page or screen. Really, it's a pulling feeling.And I love revising. That, to me, feels like I've got a skeleton and I get to flesh it out and make it a living, breathing, beautiful thing.Thanks for all your tips on publishing. I find them most encouraging and most helpful.

This sounds like a wonderful idea! Holding my book in my hand, though not ready for publication and for editing purposes, would make me so excited. It would also make it more real for me that one day this WILL be a book someone will hold. I'd like to do this at some point.

Caroline Starr Rose

You're the second person I've heard of who does this. Sounds like a great idea! I've just moved from printouts that become a muddled mess to having those printouts bound at Office Max. This sounds like a very contained way to revise.Must try!

Ernie Laurence, Jr.

Fantastic idea! I will give this a try. I had to postpone things for a couple of weeks as school gets started back up.

What a damn fine idea! I am so going to do it when I get to that point. Thanks.

This is an excellent idea. I have a friend who self-published through Lulu, so I am familiar with it. And, it's true, when you're reading your work as if it were a published book…something changes in the way you read it. You pay attention to it, even after you've read and reread and re-reread it already! This is a great post!

Kristine Asselin

I just saw this post–what a great idea. I usually print a hard copy at Staples and it costs $25, so the Lulu Option seems like a better one!