Monday, October 17, 2011

The Truth About Editing aka Steeped in Words


I had someone ask me (hi Janae) what the editing to publication process was like for me. Let me just say--being an author isn't so much about writing. It's about editing. Or rewriting. Take your pick. The smallest part of publishing a book (for me at least) is the initial writing of it!

Here's sort of how things went for me.

I wrote a book in six weeks (The Birth Of SHIFTING).

I edited it for six-ish weeks. Maybe more like eight weeks (and then I re-edited/revised/cut/ rewrote/polished it a whole lot more over more than a year).

Jump ahead to the part where I get an agent. No edits. Agent shows it to Walker Books. Walker books wants it but they want more Navajo lore. So I . . .

REWRITE THE BOOK AGAIN (at least the first half)! With Emily Easton's brilliant insight/suggestions.

And after that, I get an editorial letter stating the weak parts of the plot, what needs to be changed, what sounds too contrived, what sounds too cheesy, what sounds too boring, etc. So I . . .

REWRITE MAJOR PORTIONS OF THE BOOK AGAIN. And then I send it back to my publisher.

A few weeks later, I get a hard copy of the manuscript with notes in the margins, gramatical corrections, more notes in the margins, more gramatical corrections, notes in the margins, and I . . .

REWRITE IT AGAIN. But not as much of it this time. I also go through the document and correct improper grammar, fix punctuation, spelling errors--the stuff that was noted in the hard copy. I email the revised doc. back.

(repeat the last two paragraphs twice or so)

A few weeks later, I get an email asking me to clarify a few parts of the plot and please rewrite the epilogue (which I did, and now it is an awesome epilogue where before it was mediocre). And I email it back.

A few weeks later I get another hard copy of the manuscript, a version that has been proofread by a copy editor. I go through the entire manuscript and make sure I agree with all the changes (I do). I UPS it back.

And then I get the manuscript that is printed just like the actual book will be printed, and please read and make sure everything is how I would like it to be (It is). I UPS it back.

And then I get the advanced readers copy. But there's a little problem. The new and final cover has a girl with her hair turning into a snake. There used to be a snake scene in the book, but in all the rewriting and editing, it's been removed. So I write a new scene with a snake (actually replace a fairy scene with a snake scene).

By this time I feel as if I'm so steeped in my manuscript, the words are bleeding out onto my skin.

And then, and then, the book is finally done!

So there you have it. The truth about edits. Writing isn't really writing. It is REwriting.



12 comments:

Read my books; lose ten pounds! said...

I JUST got done with this...and I can say Im a little sick of my book for a few days.

Michelle McLean said...

yep...and then comes the inevitable moment when you pull your book off the shelf, flip through it, and find a typo/mistake/something you wished you'd caught and/or changed. :D Writing truly is a labor of love...nothing short of that would make it all worth it :)

Amanda J. said...

It's always nice to get a behind the scenes look at editing, especially for those of us who aren't agented/published yet. It's good to know to expect when the day comes.

Also, I think it's safe to say you deserve a few minutes to just breathe. :P

B.J. Anderson said...

All I have to say is that you are one tough woman to have gone through all that. And now I'm thinking I need to read your book again because it sounds different from some of the other versions I read. Not that I need an excuse to read it again! :D

Janae said...

Thanks! This is exactly the kind of thing I was wondering about. Sounds like a huge process! I hope to get there and experience it myself someday! :)

salarsenッ said...

Sharing the journey you took with Shifting is very helpful. It clears my view and stimulates thoughts like 'Maybe I'm not doing so badly.' Writing really is a ton of work and it does take time. Thank you!!

Teresa said...

Oooh, very glad you shared. My agent just sold my memoir and I just this week started working with my editor. So now I know what to expect. (And I'm frightened! Excited. But frightened!)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

*sigh* So, so, so true! And you know what? I can't wait for the day when I can do all of that! LOL. :-)

Angie said...

Sounds crazy, but fun and oh, so worth it. It must be amazing to hold your book in your hands all printed and ready for the world!

Stephanie McGee said...

Okay. I was wondering about the cover. Because the ARC cover fit so much better. You should put the fairy scene up as an easter egg/goodie because it's funny.

Now I need to go buy the book and read the changed scene...

DL Hammons said...

And I'm okay with that...as long as I have somebody is requesting the edits. :)

4rx said...

Thanks a lot for the tips, when i start to write i didn't know anything about it, i just wrote and people liked a lot and now 1 year later I'm still doing it and I almost live from that, which wasn't the idea at the beginning.