This week I’m busy finishing up my first round of edits to Midsummer Night’s Mischief. My revised manuscript is due to my editor, Martin, on Monday. So, I thought I’d take just a minute and explain how the editing process works—or, how it’s working for me, anyway.
First, though, I must say I’m still over the moon to even HAVE an editor in the first place. When I was in high school and college, I loved getting feedback from my teachers.* As an English major, I wrote lots of papers. And when they were returned, I always appreciated seeing comments in the margins. It was good to receive even small bits of praise, validating that I was on the right track. I even liked the constructive criticism. I just wanted to do well and get* better.
One of the cool things about having an editor now, is that I know right off the bat he’s in my corner. I know he already understands where I’m coming from and likes my approach—otherwise he wouldn’t even be my editor!
See, the way it works is that agents pitch books to individual editors at publishing houses—just like authors send queries to individual literary agents, rather than their agencies. You might find a company that seems compatible with your book, but you still have to choose one person within that company to send your query. My agent, Rachel, thought Martin might like my series (based on other books he’s acquired), so she pitched my book directly to him.
The fact that Martin made me an offer for a three-book deal proves he’s fully on board. (Yippee!) So, I know all his edits are meant to make the end product that much stronger.
So, how does an editor edit a manuscript? I imagine all editors have their own styles and preferences, but Martin has a two-pronged method. He sends an email with bulleted notes explaining bigger-picture changes he would like. And he sends the manuscript in a Word document, in track changes mode, showing smaller changes he’s made such as grammar and punctuation. The document also includes quick-fix suggestions, questions, and comments in the margins. (Yay comments!)
We also had a phone call before he sent me the email, since this was my first time receiving editorial notes from him. He explained the process, as well as his reasoning behind some of the suggested changes. For example, he asked me to cut a couple of minor characters who weren’t necessary to the story in order to make some scenes less crowded. He also asked me to expand a few scenes.
As for my process, after reading through all of Martin’s notes and comments, I started at the top of the manuscript and started working through his suggestions one by one. A lot of the changes were really easy to make, such as adding a clarifying detail or choosing a different word to avoid repetition. In many cases, Martin had already made the edit, explaining in a comment why he did so.
For the bigger changes, I either typed them right in the manuscript or else drafted the new content in another document and then pasted it into the original. Of course, I kept track changes on so Martin can see everything that’s deleted and added.
All in all, the edits were really not that major: An explanation here, a hint there, a couple new scenes, and a lot of little tweaks.
After Martin completes his review, he’ll send the manuscript to the production editor and then the copy editor. I’ll get to see the manuscript two more times--once, for a two-week period, to answer any questions the copy editor has for me. And, later, I’ll have a chance to see the page proofs, which are what the physical book pages will look like. That will be my final opportunity to check for any typos.
I’m curious to know-- have other writers had similar experiences? And, as always, I’m happy to answer any questions!
Now, back to work!
* Every time I write the word “get,” I still hear my 11th grade Honor’s English teacher, Mrs. Wheeler, saying to find another word. In her class, “get” was considered lazy and wasn’t even a valid word. But, I’m using it purposefully here to keep my blog lighter and less formal. Get it? (Sorry, Mrs. Wheeler!)
A nature-loving, mystery-reading, magic-seeking, daydreaming kinda gal, Jennifer is the author of the Wiccan Wheel Mysteries.