So, one of the things that has really surprised me about this whole “publishing” thing was the editing process…at least the substantial edits, in which the manuscript is tweaked, changed, and in some cases, entire sections are rewritten.
But what surprised me most of all was how much I loved doing these edits.
No, I didn’t just love them, I LOVED them-loved them! Like there was something-wrong-with-me loved them!!! (Picture me with hearts floating out of my eyes...)
This probably shocked me more than anyone, because I was so nervous about getting my editorial notes for the first time (mostly since I really wasn’t sure what to expect). It was all new, like your first kiss or learning to drive a car. Nerve-wracking and exciting and a big fat adrenaline rush all at once.
The funny thing was, though, that love was not my first reaction when I received them. My editor sent over the editorial letter, which was three pages long. Not too bad. And as I read through it, I thought: Okay, I see where she’s going with this. I get her…
And then I started looking through the page-by-page edits. We used Track Changes (a program in Microsoft Word), which was new to both of us, for the bulk of the minor edits. So, within the manuscript she could make little “electronic” comments in the sidebars, and I would get to some of those and think, she wants me to cut what? Or, what the *#!%…? She’s crazy!
And then I’d spend some time thinking about her notes…you know, letting it all sink it, and I’d look again and go, Oooh, she’s totally right!
In the end, I was so grateful to have her critical eye and her alternate perspective on some of the scenes.
Because it was all electronic, the Track Changes program also made it really simple to scan through all of the pages over and over again. So I was able to go through the entire manuscript for the first time and just accepted all of the “no-brainer” changes that she’d suggested. Those were the ones where I learned that I’m like a brain-dead chimp when it comes to punctuating dialogue. Apparently, I missed that section in Basic English for Dummies 101.
But one of the things that really cracked me up was how much she seemed to love the chapters I’d written from the killer’s perspective, and ultimately, she asked for more of them. Apparently, I do “killer” very well. I think that should probably disturb me. Or at least my husband, right?
Anyway, because the publication date was less than a year from offer and acceptance (and even though we still didn’t have an official contract yet), we only had three weeks to get through the entire substantial editing process, which is generally considered a pretty short period of time. So when I received them, I completely immersed myself (immersed = sat in my pajamas all day and survived on Cheetos and coffee) in them, and found that the pressure of the deadline made me work best. I had the first round back to her within 10 days, and before the entire three weeks were up, we were done volleying all of the minor changes back and forth, and were ready to send it off to copy-edit.
It was amazing!
So, I LOVED substantial edits, but I’ll have to let you know about copyedits…I just received a big fat envelope last Friday and I’m about halfway through. I can honestly say that it looks like a sticky-note bomb has exploded on the pages where I’ve made my own notes.
I’ll let you know if there are any survivors when the wreckage is cleared.