Friday, August 26, 2011

Edits and Final Galleys

Some authors think of edits as torture, a necessary evil. Me, I love edits. Oh, don't get me wrong, it hurts when my editors tell me to cut this sentence or even a paragraph. I worked hard over those words. The story is my baby, my life. I spent hours, days, weeks, even years laboring over it.
Sometimes I look at the manuscript and all I see is red. What the heck, it couldn't be that bad, could it? Is the editor picking on me?
One of the most important things to remember when doing edits is to keep an open mind. I like to paraphrase rather than use thoughts. That means I use the word she a lot. The reason I dislike thoughts, well two reasons, actually - 1. editors like to put thoughts into Italics. - I dislike italics - no, I hate italics. Nothing takes me out of a story worse than italics. They distract me and that's not something you want to do with a reader. Most of the books I've read   about writing say- don't use them. (and I've read a lot of books on writing, Donald Maass for one). The other reason I don't like them is thoughts also distract me. So instead of writing, I hated when he does that, I write She hated when he did that. Eliminates the need for italics and I. To me it reads much better. However, my editor doesn't like all the shes. Okay I know I use a lot of them and truthfully, I don't see a problem with it. The sentences make sense. Readers know they're thoughts. They don't need italics to tell them. I try hard to avoid thoughts that need italics, but sometimes you just have to use them.
Okay, back to editing. As the author, you have the final say on your work. But don't be stubborn. Your editor is there to help you make your work the best it can be. I've seldom had to disagree with my editor. Most of the time I look at what she wants to delete or change and I agree. Sometimes, it's back story. Sometimes it's just unneeded information.
Another reason I like edits, it gives me a chance to change things that don't sound right to me or maybe add something that will add to the story - No, I'm not talking about pages or chapters. I'm talking about a sentence or two that might add tension or help clarify what you're talking about.
Once you're done with edits, you send them back to the editor. They might go back and forth several times before you both agree and are satisfied with the final manuscript.  Ha, that's not the final manuscript at all. Now comes line edits. A different editor goes through what you and your content editor just agreed is the best manuscript. The line editor will go through line by line and suggest changes that are sometimes repetitive sentences etc. They also make sure all the commas, periods, and spelling is correct. If a sentence doesn't make sense to them, they'll suggest you change it. Again, it's your work, but keep an open mind. Think of the line editor as one of your readers. If she/he thinks it doesn't sound right, so will your reader. I seldom disagree with my line editor. Unless I have a character that speaks in a certain way,I'll usually take the suggestion.
Now comes the final galley. This is it. This is what your book is going to look like. This is your responsibility to make sure that every i is dotted and every t is crossed - so to speak. Look for spelling, commas, periods and yes, sometimes wrong words here or there. This is the last opportunity to make your book the best it's going to be. Final galleys aren't for changing sentences or paragraphs or adding to the story. Go through the final galley carefully. Even editors, no matter how good they are, miss things. A misspelled word, missing comma, etc. No one is perfect. It's the last polish before your editor sends the book off for publishing.
Think of edits as a way to improve your manuscript, not to destroy it. Editors want to work with you, not against you.


P.A.Brown said...

I love editing. That's when my story gets depth.

With comments/suggestions by an editor, agent or another author, I always find that the more I hate the idea when I first hear it, the more likely it is to be right. It'll take me a couple of days to let my brain work over it and it becomes so obvious.

Two things I've done lately. I upload the book to Lulu and have them send me a single copy to edit on. I see things on the page that I wouldn't notice onscreen.

I do the same thing with my Kindle. I convert my book and mail it to myself at my Kindle address. Just like a book, you can make comments and highlight words or sentences, then go back and edit you manuscript yet again.

Nowadays, with agents and editors, they want a polished, publishable ms. Now with all the epubbing people are doing, there's even more of a demand for for as many edits as it takes to make it as perfect as you can. Readers are going to insists, through sales by readers. There are going to be millions of books being sold online. A lot of people have the only thing you need to write a book -- a computer.

Sturgeon's Law will be as relevant then as it was in 1951. "Ninety percent of SF [science fiction] is crud, but then, ninety percent of everything is crud."

I want to be part of the ten percent. And that takes a lot of editing as many ways as we can think of. New technologies, new ways. said...

Good post. I think many self-published authors could use this reminder.

I've had full pages with a big "X" through them from my editor. Talk about tough, but once I swallow my pride (sometimes takes a few weeks), I usually realize he is right.

In regards to our "babies," I studied under Bill Ransom many years ago (he co-wrote a few stories with Frank Herbert), and he had a great (and admittedly disturbing) quote that I've always remembered: "Sometimes you have to kill your babies." Disturbing? Yes, especially today as a father, but it puts it into perspective.

Not sure what to think about italics. I use them, but I can see what you're saying. Maybe we should all be more like Cormac McCarthy :)

Paul D. Dail A horror writer's not necessarily horrific blog

Jackie Paulson said...

I do edit's for others as well, and what is amazing is the amount of errors I get and the Grammar errors. Even in published books and ebooks.

J Q Rose said...

I love editing too. Taking a long, gangly, awkward, sentence that goes on and on and on and never gets to the point...kinda like this one..then cutting all those extra words and phrases to make it a clear thought---Love that! I battle with using italics @P A Brown--very clever to send it to Kindle to read. I'm going to try that too. Very thoughtful and wise post, Roseanne.

Cher Green said...

I second the comment on self-published authors.

I visited the muse blog, but figured there was a different audience her, so here I am, lol.

I came over expecting an article about self-editing, but was pleased to find the topic different than what I expected. I work as a content editor at a different publishing company and I just love it. It's enjoyable to transform something good into something great. It's not picking on the author. New eyes are able to see the text freshly.

I love editing my own work, but trust me my copy came back from the editor bleeding, lol. It takes distance to polish a piece and sometimes it's hard for the writer to find that distance.

My solution for 'She hated when he did that.' would be, 'Red touched the edge of her vision. He only did such things because he knew how much she hated it.' Just a thought. I hate italics too, so I also stay away from "I ..."