How do you guys handle editing your work?

I'm constantly worldbuilding and second guessing on things like the history of my world and names of places or other things. I feel the need to go back and change things often. Not to mention every time I show a chapter to a proofreader they demand explanations for every little thing that happens in story when I haven't really developed it yet or tell me to rewrite or add a whole bunch of stuff.

That honestly kills my desire for writing. I don't have a lot of time to work on this, I have other stuff in my life I should be doing. But, I don't want the story to be riddled with errors.

My gut response to that is that proofreading is looking for typos and grammatical errors. Telling you to rewrite isn't really their job.

My suggestion would be to tell them up front that you really need the stupid mistakes fixed now, and big picture things are things that you'll figure out later.

I would agree with Jim in regards to his suggestion. If you just want to get rid of typos and grammatical errors then do tell your readers that.

I am unsure however about the first part. From my experience there are two parts to the whole reading before publishing stuff. Or editing: Literary editing and copy editing.

Readers spotting continuity errors and pointless scenes can be a good thing - if you hire them for literary editing and want that from them.

But that depends wholly on your needs and desires. You don't want them to nitpick the content of your story - which is perfectly fine of course - so you should just politely tell them you want copy editors.

Personally I utilize both things. I do find it usefull to get another opinion on the content of the story. Often I find myself wondering wether this needs an explanation or wether I'm destroying the mood by this tidbit of information. Literary editors can help me verify or disregard those worries before I release those parts of the story and helps me decide wether or not to stick with earlier drafts based on this feedback.

It sounds like you're writing a first draft, in which case I'd suggest not even worrying about proofreaders (let alone spelling and grammar) and just keep writing until you hit a point where you can go back over what you've done and start answering all those questions. Once you've finished a second draft, then it's time to get an outside opinion. If you're just rushing ahead, working things out as you go along, you risk the whole story collapsing in on itself.

That's a tricky subject for me. I like to release my books for sale as soon as the first chapter goes up for people who don't want to wait for updates, but in doing so it pretty much locks my story in place, you could say. If I find any remaining typos I'll fix them, but I can't make any major changes because (hopefully) people have already paid to receive the full book. If I changed something within the story, they no longer have an up to date copy, and I don't feel like that's fair to them.

I should clarify one thing. If you're planning to post shortly after you find the grammatical mistakes or typos, then tell people what you need from them. If you're planning to write the whole work and then publish chapters, then don't worry about proofreading till you're done.

My own process is:

1. Write chapter.

2. Look for errors/typos myself.

3. Post chapter.

When the book is complete:

4. Assemble book from the posts.

5. Restructure/rewrite as needed.

6. Submit to structural editor.

7. Rewrite as needed.

8. Submit to proofreader.

9. Accept/reject edits and quietly curse my life because proofing sucks.

10. Format and release as ebook.

11. Discover a few typos made it through anyway.

The degree to which my process is similar to yours determines how useful my advice is. I only do enough proofing to remove the worst errors before publishing to the web.

> 11. Discover a few typos made it through anyway.

This is, at least, often good for extorting at least one free commiserating drink from your editor.