Revision as the road to success

successful revisionThe creation of great content (whether a book, journal article, dissertation, or something else) involves many stages. These stages include: concept creation and formulation, initial research or investigation, the actual research, gathering information and data, outlining the communications, writing the first draft, revising your writing, feedback from others, additional revisions, final checks, submissions, and release or publication. Revising your work might be the most crucial (and overlooked) step in the process.

Some may view it as drudgery. “I did all that research and writing and now I have to check the grammar!” I suggest you abandon this mindset and embrace the revision stage as critical to the acceptance of your work (in both senses) and having it make an impact with the reader.

Let’s discuss what I mean by revision. This term can cover a range of circumstances. First, it can mean when you have written the entire first draft of the work and are trying to improve the presentation to ensure the correct message. This stage might involve rewriting or reworking of content. It might involve grammar or sentence structure.

Revision might also mean changes to your work to address reviewer comments. Through your own efforts to show your work to colleagues, or a publisher’s peer review, or an editor’s feedback, the author will make changes to help with clarity and presentation. Sometimes, these comments or requests might be ambiguous or even contradictory. Keeping an open mind is the key. Look at the whole work and honestly entertain the idea that the comments will make it a better work.

Finally, revision might mean a final check of a work before submission to a publisher to ensure compliance with guidelines or even the review of electronic page proofs.

Whatever the use of the term revision, embrace it as an important step toward the road to success, and not some perfunctory act to check off a list. Always look at the work as a whole and constantly be asking, “how can I streamline the work?” “How can I focus my message?” “How can I make this an essential contribution to the field?”

Don’t shy away from heavy lifting or even, gasp, rewriting or reworking. The differences between good and great or even great and seminal is the revision stage.

Take every opportunity to clarify your message. The hallmark of great writing is the ability to present complex or new ideas in a simple package. No one ever said about an article or monograph, “I wish it was longer,” or “I wish it was more complex.” Revision is the essential stage to make your work essential.


John BondJohn Bond is a publishing consultant at Riverwinds Consulting. He works with individuals on publishing and writing projects. Schedule an initial complimentary phone call at Publishing Fundamentals. In his career, he has directed the publishing of over 500 book titles and 20,000 journal articles. He is the host of the YouTube channel “Publishing Defined.”Contact him at jbond@riverwindsconsulting.com.