Why do bookstores shy away from self-published titles? Because the book has not gone through the same editing and redraft process as a traditionally published book.

How many times would you rewrite your book, clean it, and polish it, if you had a chance to be published by Random House? The answer is probably at least a dozen times. You would make sure that your manuscript is perfect, because you will only get one shot.

Now let me ask you this: How many times does a self-published author rewrite their book? The answer is less that five times on average.

Here is an example of what my novels go through, before they are printed:

1. Write the book.

2. Go over the book with my dictionary, thesaurus, and “The Describer’s Dictionary.” 

3. Read book over again, look for smooth flow, mistakes in plot, needless sentences, quick chapters, and clearness of story.

4. Read book out loud. Any places I stutter, should be changed to run smoother.

5. Let my wife read my book and make notes. 

6. Fix manuscript, based on my wife’s notes.

7. Have my manager read the book and make notes.

8. Fix manuscript, based on my manager’s notes.

9. Have at least one author read book and make notes.

10. Fix manuscript, based on the author’s notes.

11. Grammar editor to go over book.

12. Verify all grammar editor’s changes.

13. Read book within a 48 hour period to make sure it has an amazing fast pace and the reader will move from one page to the next. Make minor changes on the way.

14. Send to manager for print. Have team do a quick look over.

15. Read entire book in PDF form that is sent to me by my manager. Changes should be minor or none at all. I’ll also look at the graphics to make sure they flow with the book.

16. Book is printed and I’m sent a proof. Read proof. (Should not be anymore changes.) 

17. Book is mass-produced and now my readers can enjoy!

During this long process, while waiting for the feedback from various people, I am writing my next book and getting that manuscript through the system. That way, I can write two novels a year, along with one or two non-fiction books, and one children or tween book. By the time my original book is finished, I’ve already written several more that are going through the redraft process.

Here is a great quote by Andre Jute, “Good novels are not written, they are rewritten. GREAT novels are diamonds mined from layers of rewrites.”

The popularity of your book will depend on how many times it goes through a redraft. You will get one shot for the world to read your book…make it count.

Ron Knight

Author of “2-10”

Novelist, Reader, Co-Founder of UP Authors

Manager: Melissa Link


Ron Knight

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  1. That’s only part of the reason–and while important, isn’t the REAL reason. The biggest reason they won’t put the money in on a self- or subsidy published book is because of the “no return” policy held by the presses. Bookstores don’t give a crap what’s between the pages–they only care if they can sell the product. And if they can’t, can they return it and get their money back.

    Subsidy presses like XLibris, iUniverse, etc have a no return policy. They’re not the only ones–Print on Demand is largely a “no return” issue because they are just that, printed on demand. If a book can’t be returned, they won’t buy it. They don’t want to get stuck with inventory that isn’t going to go anywhere.

  2. J.W., great point on the “No return policy” for bookstores, concerning self-publishing. Another reason why self-publishing is limited. That’s why bookstores care about traditional authors. Why? Because they know what’s “inside” the book has been polished and ready to sell.

  3. Martini Harkert says:

    this is an amazingly helpful post and i too go through several steps but i have saved your page as a useful reference thank you

  4. I shouldn’t be surprizing so hard at that.