#amediting

Good morning Scribes and Scribettes. PJ Sharon here, writing from deep in the edit cave. I thought it might be useful to share an Indie’s perspective on the editing process. It’s about seven weeks until the launch of my next book and the pressure is on.

Coming June 24, 2013!
Coming June 24, 2013!

I received my final set of edits from Carol, my super-editor who looks at everything from plot holes, inconsistencies, and characterization, to misplaced modifiers, repetitive sentence structure and comma placement. She is very thorough and brutally honest. She gives me fantastic feedback that at first makes me grumble and sometimes even cry in frustration at my own lameness as a writer. But then I realize that her suggestions are right on the money and that I would do well to listen.

Her best advice in the end for WESTERN DESERT: “Paula, if you can learn to write sentences that do not rely on “this” and “that” but are specific and vivid, your writing will improve enormously!”

You’ve got to love English teachers!

Carol’s straightforward approach makes me continue to grow as a writer and I am eternally grateful for her as a resource and a friend. But everyone’s view point is limited so I am going through another round of edits on my own, employing her suggestions, layering in details that will enrich the story, and developing more deeply, the character arcs. By this point, I’ve also run the entire manuscript through an editing program called Auto-crit which gives me reports about overused words, repetitive phrases, clichés, and much more. I could make myself crazy with it, but I’ve learned to use it to catch those pesky bad habits we all have (55 occurrences of the word “that” in one chapter, please remove about 34 occurrences). Eeek! Using the program helps me to see where stronger verbs and more vivid language are needed.

Next–as in today–I’ll hand the book over to editor #2, Jane. I feel like this round of edits is what fine-tunes the story, bringing it to life on the page and cleaning house on all the picky details like grammar, punctuation, and overall flow. Don’t get me wrong; Jane will also catch me on plot points that need clarifying, missed opportunities to deepen character, and stilted dialogue. She, too, is extremely thorough and honest—two necessary traits for a great editor.

When Carol and Jane are done red-penning my baby to death, and I’ve done my level best to write a compelling and entertaining tale, I’ll send the manuscript to Createspace for print copies.This step takes a week to ten days (usually less), so I use this time to work on marketing and promo plans. Initially, I can only buy four copies since I haven’t approved the final at that point. I give two of these copies to Beta readers (avid readers with a keen eye for what works in a story and what doesn’t), and send the other two copies to reviewers. Most of the big review sites require copies several months in advance of release, but it won’t hurt to send one to Publisher’s Weekly and hope for the best. This is also the time I will send the e-version in PDF format to on-line review sites. I have a yearly subscription to Author EMS, a website that pre-filters a list of reviewers perfect for my book. It’s a lot of work querying and sending out requested material, but I think it’s worthwhile. (I’d love to find an assistant to do these types of tasks for me).

Once I receive all the feedback from my Beta readers, (I usually give them a week or so), I make one more pass, considering their suggestions as I go. I’m usually still adding layers, sharpening dialogue, and looking for ways to weave the underlying themes throughout the story—basically putting the fine brush strokes on the final picture. Then it goes back to Createspace and I get a few more copies. I give one to a Proof reader, and the others I use as review copies. After the final proof read and final corrections, it goes to my husband for formatting. Although I’ve gotten pretty good at it myself, he is much more patient than I am and is meticulous with all of that awful detail and computer savviness. I approve it on Createsapce and order print copies, 30-50 to start, and upload to Amazon, BN, and Smashwords.

Viola! We have a book. The hardest part of this entire process is all of the other work that is supposed to happen simultaneously, such as planning a launch party, marketing the other books, and preparing my social media strategy for getting the word out. Obviously, I need to get back to work!

Any questions? What’s your process like?

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12 thoughts on “#amediting”

    1. Create Space suggests that you go through the proofing process as many times as is necessary before final approval. I find that twice is usually enough and don’t really have time for a third, but I’ve learned to order a limited number of copies initially, because i always find some stupid error that me and seven other people have missed…grrr! Thanks for stopping by, Marian.

    1. Thanks, Jesse. I’m glad to share the process. It’s arduous, but since I’m putting my name on the finished product, I want it done right. Having control of all the steps is a double edged sword. I have no one looking over my shoulder telling me what I can and can’t write, but as the saying goes, the buck stops here. I’ve got no one to blame but myself if the book turns out to be crap, LOL.

  1. Ditto Marian. Paula, Interesting you have two editors. I have heard it could be confusing to have two. But I do believe in getting all the critical data you can. After all, writing takes skill, study and determination–all of which you have in abundance. Writing is an epic journey. Thank you the productive information. When the time is right, you will find assistants to handle the details. With others doing the nitty gritty, you will have time to do the other things associated with writing, like writing.

    1. Thanks, Gail. Even trad pubbed books go through a couple of sets of eyes. You have a content editor who looks at plot, story structure, GMC, and does the deeper edits. Then you have a copy editor who looks at Grammar, punctuation, style and usage issues. After the author follows through on their end by taking editor suggestions where appropriate, the book is then sent through the proof reader who might fact check and who will cross all T’s and dot all i’s. As long as the editors are each responsible for a different piece, it usually works out for the good of the author and the book.

  2. Hi Paula,
    It was fun learning about your process and as I’ve said to you before whatever you are doing keep doing it because it’s working. I do think it’s important to have more than one editor just to be sure nothing gets overlooked.

    1. Hi Judy! I’ve definitely found that the more sets of eyes the better. I’m always amazed at how little details slip through the cracks. In my first book, Heaven is for Heroes, I ordered 200 copies and then discovered they had two chapter 10 headings…ugggh! They became collectors editions, of course, but really? Seven of us actually overlooked that little detail.

  3. Wonderful post Paula. It’s good to shed light on the thoroughness of your editing process. As an indie author, I’m curious about where to find Carol and Jane for future reference. Thanks, and best of luck with sales!

    1. Hi Gemma. Carol is actually a friend and client of mine who is a literary professor and retired high school English teacher. I don’t believe she is for hire as a rule, but I’ll ask her if she is interested in freelance editing. Jane, however is right here at the Scribes. She writes as Susannah Hardy and is a gem to work with!

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