Book Review: Revision and Self-Editing for Publication, by James Scott Bell

Somewhere around 3 stars.

This book was good, I’ll give it that. It just wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. Based on the title (and the blurb on the back) one would think it was a how-to on revision/editing. It’s not. It’s more of a how-to on writing.


But it’s a good how-to on writing. I’ve read quite a lot of writing books, and this one is in the top three, if not the top one. It was entertaining and informative. Like I said, I wasn’t looking for a book on how to write, though. I was looking for tips on editing. I wanted advice on how to break up the process into manageable chunks instead of staring at one big blob of work. I wanted tips for line editing. I wanted charts and graphs and step-by-step processes.

What I got was 3/4 of a book about writing before it even got into the section header on revision. (The first section is called ‘Self-Editing’ but it goes into getting yourself in the mood to write and definitions of POV and things like that. I don’t think that’s editing. It’s smart to make sure you’re sticking to one when you go back through, but I don’t need a refresher in what POV is. And if I’ve finished a book, I already know how to get myself in the mood to write.) And the revision section was very much a repeat of what I’d read in the writing portion.

I’m not going to say this book didn’t help me. It did have some interesting points. But I’m still left in the dark about the technicalities of editing and revision.



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