Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Editing- Not my Foe but my Friend


Good evening everyone! Here’s a little insight into my first official professional editing experience with my publisher! Yay!
For any aspiring authors out there, please don’t let the idea of having your book edited become an intimidating thought or a cause of nibbling your nails down to the nubs. The Editor is your friend not your foe. And the editing processing itself is like getting a good scrub in the tub and finally getting to see the pink behind your ears again. Might take patience, cringing up the eyes afraid to touch the particularly gnarly parts, but it feels good, looks loads better, and you’ll smell better too after it’s over. Trust me. Go with it.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand…
So…My book production manager (BPM as I’ll refer to her) contacted me on the 3rd of January with a preliminary deadline to complete my part of the editing process on book one. Yay! My task was to include reading every single word to ensure accuracy, make any other editorial changes I came across, make minor structural decisions and finish some rewording or re-writes to tone down some of the graphic content. I also needed to read all their notes and suggestions and take them into consideration when reviewing the manuscript.

Needless to say I was thrilled and excited to get started but I was also slightly panicked. One week? Really? I had a one week deadline to edit a 125K word book? Auuuuh!!! (Remember, folks, I have a fulltime day job too)
My editor had already cleaned 99.999% of the misspellings, typos, punctuation mistakes and other grammatical errors. Now it was my turn to read over their corrections, read all their notes and professional suggestions and help cut back the word count so that my future reader doesn’t dislocate an arm when they go to pick it up off the shelf. A challenge and yet…slightly overwhelming idea – at first.

I called my book BPM and asked her if I wasn’t able to get the edits done by the 10th, how bad would that be and would she be able to give me a couple more days if I got stuck. Being my first book and all, I wanted to make sure I did it right. She was so cool and reassuring. She said if I needed more time, then it wouldn’t be a problem. It was a relief to my nerves, but I assured her I still wanted to make the deadline anyway if at all possible.
My bosses at my day job are also awesome, wonderful, understanding and supportive guys. (Hard to find in a job now-a-days right?) Anyway, they had no problem with letting me take a couple of my PTO days to meet the deadline. That was a big relief too.

For five days I got to live the dream of working all day in my home office and I felt like a real fulltime author. Let me just say, I felt deeply satisfied and full of joy. Yes, it was a lot of work, but it was worth it – every single computer-dry-eyed, finger cramping, moment.  
I started editing the night I got my BPM’s email that we were starting the second phase of editing. She sent my manuscript back to me with her notes and my editors notes attached. They have a keen eye and I can see why they’re the professionals. They had very good advice and insights as I had hoped they would.

One, which I appreciate, was their suggestion to tone down some of the graphic content. They originally rated it a 10 (0 being none). And my BPM even said my book scared her. Good sign of a thriller I guess! But without being too specific as to not spoil certain heart pounding moments, there was some pretty intense violence that they thought might be too graphic for the average reader. Yes the book is a mystery thriller in nature, but I also want a wide audience to be able to read it. And honestly, if it was a movie, it would have been rated ‘R’. Now it is probably a strong PG-13. Don’t get me wrong, when you read it you’ll still cringe, get mad at the bad guys, and probably even feel anxious.
I don’t feel the edits they suggested took anything important away, as I didn’t actually cut the scenes out, just toned them down a tad. So if you’re someone with a more delicate taste and aren’t thrilled about reading a lot of violence, blood and gore, then you can relax. You won’t throw up—well, now you won’t anyway.

I discovered for me, the key to making clean edits, cutting sentences that are redundant, and taking out double adjectives or “data dumps” is to remain unemotional and try to detach from it. Yes, some moments were cause for a little sadness as I saw my baby evolving, but it was short lived. The outcome was better than the first draft (or the 5th draft since I had self-edited my book about a thousand times before I even sent it to the publisher to begin with).
To make the edits, I read the book as if I was the first time reader. What added to the story? What wasn’t necessary and just slowing down or cluttering up a scene? What was already said that didn’t need to be repeated? What was out of place? These are just some of the things they helped me to look for. Also, I had no idea that as an English speakers, we tend to over use the words very, just, that, and really. Most of the time those words can be cut because they don’t actually add much to the sentence in the way of importance. Sometimes they do, but most of the time, they don’t.

I am by no means an expert now just because I went through my first major draft of editing on my first book. But I learned a lot. And I met my deadline! Yippee!
The next steps will be for my BPM and editor to review my revisions, they will implement them and give my manuscript another once over. If it is clean and ready for the next phase, then they will send it back for final approval. If there is still some work to be done, they will make the appropriate notes and I’ll be back at it.

Once editing is done the book will be formatted for printing. My publisher is awesome in that they have a whole department full of artist and designers who will create my book cover options (taking into consideration my ideas) which I will get to approve. Then their marketing department will create my Author website, TV commercials and e-commercials. Sometime during the marketing phase, they will zero in on the public release date for the book. I can’t wait to have that date to share with all of you. It is so exciting!
They are still estimating spring 2013! Oh, by the way, we start editing book two February 1st and the estimated release time for book two is summer 2013. I am currently writing book three and having a blast.

Thank you all for reading. I appreciate it! Have a blessed day!

R.J. Machado De Quevedo
(Follow me on Twitter under @TheDeceiverBook )

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