The Editing Process ~ The Knife That Cuts Deep

You have your contract signed. The cover art is totally awesome. For weeks you’ve waited on the editor get start looking over your book, but he or she won’t have much to do. Your book is the most awesome book in creation. There will be little or no problems with it.

Visions of a best seller dance in your head. You’re so focused on this that you are searching for places to let reviewers know the Great American novel has happened, and they must, absolutely, read your book and rate it higher than any other book ever written. Why it’s no not a stretch to ask your publisher to pay for those places that do reviews, like Kirkus or the New York Times. It doesn’t matter that Kirkus charges from $425 to $575 to review a book, with no guarantee when your book will be reviewed or if you’ll have a good review. That the NYT has a large backlist of review requests never even enters your mind. Your book is going to topple every well-known author off their lists, to become the latest book to vie for a place at the top.

Then your editor contacts you. Your book is next up in the queue and they’re already going over the pages. You read the email with your heart in your throat. Dizzy dreams of soon having a best seller on your hands cloud your eyes. You have to read the email a couple of times. What does it mean when the editor says you will have to go through three rounds of editing? Your book is perfect. All this person has to do is sign off and let you get the galleys off to these reviewers. Are they nuts?

Fuming, you dash off an email to the editor in chief in charge of the imprint your book is in. You want this editor fired immediately. They are about to butcher your book. This is not going to happen. When the editor in chief doesn’t immediately bow to your wishes, you’re emailing the publisher, who certainly won’t want such a wonderful book ruined by a hack editor. Yet, even then you don’t get satisfaction, because the same editor in chief you just called every kind of idiot is responding instead of the publisher.

The reality is that every book needs editing, if for nothing more than to check for misspelled or missing words, improper punctuation, or a dropped plot point. Your editor is actually your best friend in this situation. These are things a professional reviewer will notice and say something about. Once a good editor is finished with the process, you will feel like both you and your book have been shaken hard and honed into a work of art. Your book might not make the best seller list, that’s virtually unheard of for first time authors, but you will have a well-written, well-edited piece of work you can be proud to promote. Those who do read your book will be happy to leave a glowing review of your work. You will soon find yourself happy the editor pointed out all those problems and convinced you to accept their suggestions.

Remember that you spend many months or years writing your book. It has to compete with the thousands of books uploaded every month. Therefore, you want the best possible product available. That’s what your editor is for.


Jacqueline T Moore said…
Amen to the choir director. The Canary' s editing process taught me more about writing than any class ever taken.
C. Let said…
Authors need to know this: your editor is on YOUR side. Never are they more on your side than when they are pointing out a problem. You may hate them by the time the book is finished. But when the final is done, you'll be looking your book over, and think, "Wow, this is pretty darned good."

That twinkle you feel just then will be your editor, grinning at you.Proud of you for YOUR work.
KC Sprayberry said…
Totally agree, Cyn, but too many people go into the process with shutters over their eyes.
C.Ley said…
Yeah, but authors *are* trainable. Mostly. ;-)
Vanayssa Somers said…
I could not believe how many errors and omissions and punctuation mistakes and even a couple misspellings..and, of course, the problematic Capitalizations...that there were in my manuscript even after I paid a friend to look it over and she found several plot points (serious) missing, and after I myself edited the book 37 times over many months. Still, the copy editor found a ton of problems and on the final edit I myself found endless things that needed to be fixed and there such a thing as a perfect book? I don't think there can be. It's like trying to hold onto a flopping fish with greasy just can't get a perfect hold on it nohow.