Publication Process: Edit Letters and Stuff

I’ve been mostly absent for a week, ploughing through the recommendations in my new editor’s edit letter. My contract actually specifies that I have 60 days to complete those, and it’s still about 11 months until publication of the book, so why press to get it done fast? Well, I’m just like that.

(When I sent the revised manuscript back in yesterday, I told my editor that I -needed- to get it back to her or I would keep revising endlessly. Yes, while some other writers hate editing, I don’t. I LOVE it. So when I hit this weird point in my manuscript where I’m feeling like starting over and giving it one more polish….that’s when I often send a manuscript away, knowing that if I don’t do so, I’ll keep stroking it eternally.)

But that’s not what I’m here to talk about right now. What I do want to talk about it the editing process with a professional editor. As a debut novelist, I don’t have a great deal of experience, so this is not what everyone’s process might be like.

Here’s what I’ve done.
1) Send book to potential agent (v1)
2) Potential agent asks for a few changes
3) As I really want this agent, I make changes
4) Agent offers representation based on revised version (v2)

YAY!

5) Agent starts pitching book
6) Rejections come in, often with conflicting reasons for rejection (too much romance, too little romance)
7) Editor at Big6 publisher says no, but would read a rewrite if x, x, and x
8) As I really want this publisher, I make changes
9) Publisher offers contract based on revision (v3)

YAY!

10) Once contract signed, editor sends ‘edit letter’ asking for x, x, and more x.
11) I make changes (v4) and send it back in.
This is my ‘official’ turn in, although due to some publisher turmoil, there were some delays
12) Editor sends it back, with request for small (and I mean small) changes.
According to my contract, she had 60 days to do so, but above publisher turmoil slowed it down and she was a few days late. I was not stressed over that since she and I had been in e-mail contact for the previous week or so and I knew she was working on it. Another title change occurs during this. Now the book is The Golden City.
13) I do edits.
According to my contract, I have 60 days to do this. But I don’t believe in procrastination. Also my editor was getting ready to go on vacation, so that gave me impetus to hurry.
14) I send in the manuscript (v4.5)
15) Editor ‘accepts’ the changes and sends the manuscript to proofreading. (This is apparently where I will get my next payout from publisher, BTW).

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So here’s where I get people telling me, “Don’t make changes! It’s your book, your story! Don’t compromise your Art! Don’t let them change your title!”

Seriously, folks. I am not a Great Artist. Not everything that comes out of my computer is gold. Do I need editors? Absolutely, because they see what I don’t. They’re more experienced than I am in what the readers needs to see on the page. Are they Perfect Editors? No. I know this novel will not be perfect. None of them will be. But the editor has a time investment in my book, and therefore isn’t working against me. She’s working with me. I don’t have a problem with being edited.

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What will happen next?

Well, I think I’m at the stage where they actually start putting together the galley. One thing I’m sure of is that I’m at the point where change is pretty limited. The way I understand it is that when the galleys come, if I make a change that will alter page-count, I will be fined. Typos and such are OK. (Fined is not the word used in the contract, but it’s essentially a slap on the hand for messing with the ‘typesetters’*. I suspect that this is a contract hold over from the old days, when typesetters actually existed and making changes at this point was truly problematic.** )

So still to go? Galleys, cover art, ARCs, and book. All over the next 11 months. Possibly not in that order.

Soon the year of insanity will begin. I have another book to turn in on April 1. I have promotion to do and cons to be at. I’ve got a book to pimp.

I’ll go get to work now…

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* When I was a kid I played softball for the R.J. Typesetters. I’m old.

**A couple of times when I brought up something from my contract, my editor wondered why they’d left that language in the boilerplate (such as mailing in a physical copy of the manuscript when finished…along with a disc.)

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