Sunday, July 29, 2007

Edits

I have been through between one and seven rounds of edits with each of my books. The variation is a little bemusing but not only do editors and publishers vary, so do my manuscripts. I think that going into the edits for your first book can be pretty scary. The process is unfamiliar and this is the first time someone has really messed with your work (that you couldn't just ignore). Then there is the random factor that in e-publishing the expertise of the editors varies immensely.

These days I don't have any problem doing many rounds of edits or making a substantial changes. But there are a few things that do strike me as good signs and bad signs.

Good:

1) Seeing the same editor again. Everyone has idiosyncrasies so a familiar editor is easier to work with. It also suggests the publisher is holding onto their staff and makes the whole process more predictable and open to informal negotiation without misunderstandings. If the relationship becomes a positive one that really increases my chances of submitting to that press again... especially if they actually email me personally and ask about future works.

2) The editor is in charge of the process. Many publishers have a second copyeditor, proofreader or (on the other end) senior editor involved in the process. If the main editor is in control and vets copyediting and controls all communication about edits between writer and publisher this will avoid embarrassing contradictions and repetition.

3) The edits are insightful and address more than spelling and grammar. Some writers may turn out a perfect product but I appreciate an editor with an eye for plotholes, inconsistencies and the overall effectiveness of the story.


Bad:

1) Editors that lack basic skills in spelling and grammar. If the first page makes changes that insert obvious errors like the wrong 'there' I get a sinking feeling.

2) Edits arrive a few days before the release date. Editors are busy, but part time writers often have things going on too. A week, surely, is a reasonable period to be given? This also leaves some time to deal with issues that might come up that deal with the story not just the spelling and punctuation.

3) One thing that really can get on my nerves is if I question an edit and this is seen as being lazy or not respecting the publishers desire to make my work as good as possible. If I question an edit it is because I think that change would make the work worse, not better. I'd like that opinion to be heard and addressed. Sure, I am often wrong but one edit than renders a passage incomprehensible can sour a whole book.

But that's just me. Anyone else have things they love or hate about the editing process?

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