There must be a better way.
I self-published a novel on Kindle two summers ago, Grimaulkin: Demon. I thought "It's great, word of mouth will sell it." No, it sucked, and when I took it off Kindle, it was so far down the bottom of the list that it wasn't even showing up in recommended books.
I'll go into what we think about our babies later, but this post is about editing.
Grimaulkin: Demon was the second draft of a book I entitled Grimaulkin Rising that I wrote in two weeks of mania in May of 2010. (Yes, two weeks. Take that, NaNoWriMo.) In the winter of 2010, I rewrote Grimaulkin Rising, retitled it Grimaulkin: Demon, and prepared it for publication. I sent the first chapters/samples to a few (just a few) agents. No bites. Nice rejection letters, though.
I heard that Kindle was taking people to publish, and thought, "Hey, why the hell not?" So I used a picture I had done of Grim while he was still a character in City of Heroes, put up Grimaulkin: Demon on Kindle, and waited for the royalties to roll in.
I got $25 the first year.
I started the price at $9.99. Then $5.99, after realizing $9.99 was the price big publishers were charging. Then $2.99, realizing that $5.99 were for authors who were well known. Then .99 at the end.
All in all, I got the big whopping sum of $38 after leaving it up there for a year and a half.
Before I pulled it down, I bought it myself and took a look at it. The formatting was horrible. It didn't even look like a book - it looked like someone had cut and pasted a word document into my Kindle. It had no frontispiece, no beginning pages, no "About the Author". Just open the cover and there is Chapter 1.
So the formatting was bad. Then I dug into the book. Some parts still flowed like water. Other parts, and to me, there were more of those parts, clunked like a bad clockwork toy. Why did I go into such detail over a minor character's funeral? Why did I make such a big deal about this character being gay and his civil rights being constantly violated?
There were other scenes that screamed "cut and paste job", other parts that I shook my head over with "What was I thinking?" I put it away and left it away.
Every once in a while, I would say to myself, "I'm going to rewrite that second version again." But whenever I would sit down to it, I would be almost literally sick. I thought this second version was just so bad, there was no saving it.
Two days ago, I happened to go in my Dropbox account I hadn't been in for about a year, and noticed I had the second draft in there. I was bored at work, and downloaded it. I cringed again at the opening scene. I can't see myself working on this.
So I went back, and I downloaded the first version, still sitting on Googledocs since 2011. (Yay, Googledocs!) I opened it up, and read the first page. Yes, I said to myself, this is what I wanted to say. This is what I meant to do, not the convoluted crap that I ended up with in the second draft.
I reformatted it while I had downtime at work. I saved it back on Dropbox, and downloaded it to my home computer. I printed it out, all 176 pages (double spaced, of course).
Now, I'm line editing. I'm reading through, looking for grammar, spelling, consistency, and bad habits of mine. (Like using parentheses, too many compound sentences, the words "that" and "just", and using a lot of "looking" words.) I'm not rewriting, I'm cleaning it up. If there's something that I feel I need to rewrite, I'm making a note of it on the side saying, "rewrite" or "more detail" or "reword". I'll go back to it again when I'm done cleaning.
Does anyone have a better way to edit than that? How do you edit/rewrite? Do you even bother? Do you find that your first draft is better than all your others?