Discussion: How Many Drafts Do You Generally Do Per Manuscript?

Photo credit: tetracarbon on Flickr
I know the answer to this question will vary greatly manuscript to manuscript (and writer to writer, of course), but as I work on Into the Black's sixth draft—which was, honestly, one of my cleanest manuscripts to date—I've been thinking about this. Judging by the last couple manuscripts I've sent to my agent, it seems I usually get to around five drafts before we consider it submission-ready—that is, ready to go to either my editor on submission, depending on the book.

But for me, five drafts usually means it hasn't needed major overhauls—or if it did I squished all those overhauls into one revision round (but not necessarily one pass!) and thus it didn't require extra checks with other people added to my process.

I suppose it also depends on how you define a draft. For me, I count a new draft every time I start a new serious revision round. So after the first draft, I work on my own revisions and create the second draft. Then it goes through two rounds with critique partners, after each of which I end up with the third and fourth draft. Then it goes to sensitivity readers (if necessary) and my agent and I use their notes to come up with the fifth and sometimes sixth draft. In between those, when I have multiple passes through a manuscript (usually to fix separate big things) I label them as partial drafts, like 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, etc. until I've finished. But I don't really count those as separate drafts—it's more of a way to mark how many passes I did per revision round.

But that's my method and a general trend based off a couple manuscripts I've gone the full process with. And so I'm curious—how many drafts do you generally do per manuscript?

Twitter-sized bite:
How many drafts do you generally do per manuscript? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)

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