How to Write a Book (3 of 4) – Manuscript Stages 4-6

Issue #108
Blog #21-2019
Section: Writing Tips
Blogger: Joseph Clay

Thinking about writing and publishing a book but don’t know where to start.

ThunderHorse Publishing has put together a series of blogs that will give the person who aspires to be a writer an idea of where to began. This is the third blog in the four blog series.

Other blogs in this series:

Welcome back. Stage 3 – The Manuscript Review conducted by a Professional Editor/Proofreader is complete and waiting to be reviewed by the writer.

Photo credit: Author D.L. Fisher
Photo credit: Author D.L. Fisher

Before opening the email or envelope that contains the manuscript review lets cover what the review is to accomplish.

The Manuscript Review is to put the writer on the right track to making their story the best it can be.

The manuscript reviewer, who is normally an editor as well, will do what Elmore Leonard and Steven King suggest all writers do. They will also find every hole in the plot, find the issues with the characters and story flow.

Read Q and A with Clare Diston – Editor Proofreader @ Human Voices to learn a more about how an editor works.

The new writer should prepare themselves for the shock of seeing their work critiqued by a professional.

The reviewer will do their job without worrying about hurting the feelings of the writer. The writer’s ego is also no concern to the reviewer and they don’t mind deflating it.

Yes the reviewer will take the story that the writer thought was good and destroy it, making the writer second guess their storytelling and writing skills.

Photo credit: Author D.L. Fisher
Photo credit: Author D.L. Fisher

Does this mean the writer has no talent and needs to to trash the First Draft.

No! Yes, talent helps but hard work is just as important.

Stephen King sums it best in his writing advice about Talent. All talented writers are not successful, but writers who work hard and don’t quit are.

This is what separates the wannabe writers from the successful ones. All successful writers have there things in common.

Desire, dedication and work ethic!

Now that the writer is prepared for what maybe in the Manuscript Review lets get to the following stages to get the First Draft to the Second then Third Draft.


Stages 4 – 7 along with Stages 9 and 10.

Stage 4Rewrite: This stage is all about trust and communication between the manuscript reviewer and writer. This is the toughest of the 8 writing stages.

Key: Trust, for the a smooth transition from First Draft to Second is trusting the Manuscript Reviewer/Editor. They are trained professionals and know what it will take to help the writer published the best book possible.

Once the writer has digested all the changes the manuscript reviewer suggested the discussions begins. This discussion can take place via phone or email. All the issues and/or concerns do not have to be covered at once.

Remember the writer has the final say and can refuse any changes that are suggested.

However don’t be stubborn. ThunderHorse Publishing suggest the writer pay attention and listen with an open mind of why the changes are needed. Remember the goal is to put out the best book possible.

After the writer gets clarification of the suggested changes the writer moves to the Beta Readers notes. Make sure all the suggestions that were not covered in the Manuscript Review are talked about. The writer and Manuscript Reviewer/Editor will discuss these and determine if these changes need to be incorporated in the rewrite.

Once the talks are completed the writer has to make a decision. Will the journey to becoming a Published Author continue or has the amount of changes to the manuscript killed the drive and desire?

Photo credit: Author D.L. Fisher

Sidney Sheldon and ThunderHorse Publishing’s advice don’t give up, you are half way there!

The writer has three other options besides giving up the dream.

  1. The writer can place the writing in Stage 9, see below, and take a break from writing. While away the writer can think about the changes and why they are needed. The writer can also ponder why they started the process to begin with. Then the question that has to be answered is, is all this worth the effort.
  2. The writer can place the writing in Stage 10, see below. This is the stage where the review did not go well. The manuscript may have poor plot structure are some other major issue. This stage can also be used for another reason. After placing the manuscript in Stage 9 the writer decides during their soul searching that they no longer want to continue. The work is moved to Stage 10. Why designate a stage if the writer calls it quits? The writer has put to much work in getting the story this far. After an extended lay off they may chose to return.
  3. Continue the process.

ThunderHorse Publishing suggest that no matter how much work is involved the writer bite the bullet and proceed with Stage 4Rewrite. Remember ninety percent of the time hard work trumps talent.

The writer will begin incorporating the changes they and the editor agreed on. Do not rush Stage 4Rewrite. The writer must make sure to incorporate all the changes needed. This process could take two weeks to a year. Remember the writer is not in a race. Their goal is not to cross the finish line first but to publish an excellent piece of literature.

Once Stage 4Rewrite is complete the writer now has the Second Draft ready for the next stage.


Stage 5Edit: This stage consists of three steps. With Stage 4 complete the writer returns the manuscript back to the editor.

  1. The editor reviews the changes made during the rewrite and will begin checking for grammar, sentence structure and spelling errors along with other mistakes.
  2. The editor will return the marked-up manuscript back to the writer.
  3. The writer makes the suggested changes.

Once again it is vital during this stage that the writer does not make any changes to the Second Draft while the editor is working on it. This includes additions to the story along with changes to the front and back matter of the book. The editor and the writer must be working from identical manuscripts.

Once Stage 5 is complete the writer now has the Third Draft ready for the next stage.

Now is a good time to meet with the illustrator to discuss the artwork for the interior of the book. Cover how many illustrations are needed, the subject matter of each, and of course price. To save on publishing cost of the paper or hardback the illustrations should be in black and white to avoid a charge for color printing. Skip this step if no illustrations will be used.


Stage 6 – Proofread: With Stage 5 complete the writer returns the Third Draft back to the editor for the proofread.

The writer can also let others proof the story.

Once the editor sends the Third Draft back the writer incorporates any changes noted and those from others.

This is the final step before publishing and the manuscript must be as perfect as it can be before moving on to the next stage. The writer has the final responsibility of proofing the story.


ThunderHorse Publishing recommends reading the fourth installment of this series How to Write a Book (4 of 4) – Manuscript Stages 7 and 8 – Preparing to Publish before proceeding to Stage 7. This blog will be published on 6-28-2019.

Till we meet again keep the pencil to the paper.

The ThunderHorse Publishing Team

All photos featuring authors and their quotes are from Author D.L. Fisher . ThunderHorse Publishing post a Wednesday Writing Wisdom using these writing tips plus others. Follow us on one of our social media sites to read them every Wednesday.

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