The Glorious World of Editing

Pink Pen Massacre

My own edits but you get the point.

Okay, it’s not glorious sometimes but it’s a necessary step to getting your manuscript the best it can be. This goes for whether you’re publishing by your lonesome or have a publisher to do it for you. I’ve had many different aspects in my short time and, while I’m not an expert, I do have some methods that help me.

Working in the fantasy realm, sometimes I come up with odd names. Either they’re researched (fuck yeah! research!) by country origin or I’ve totally whipped out the Ouija board in my head and picked random letters. Either way, they’re not always going to be in the dictionary. Oh I could add them but do I really want to have a name like Guisdohi hanging around forever? Probably not. So, I tell the dictionary to ignore that name. This way, if I misspell it somewhere else in the manuscript, I know by the squiggly red line of fuckdom. Oh yes, I’ve screwed them up before.

While it’s best to give your publisher the cleanest manuscript ever, things are missed. The eyes to brain ratio just goes on holiday sometimes. So, in going through your first round of edits, concentrate on what the editor has noted or changed. Accept it no matter what, then change it back if it doesn’t mesh. Remember to explain, in a comment, why it absolutely needs to be the original way. Most often than not, my editors make some good suggestions. Ultimately, it is my manuscript and my final say. Or, at least, that’s how it should work. It all depends on your contract. I’ll often reopen the document and put it side by side to make sure I don’t reintroduce any derp moments at my editor fixed.

The next part is more tedious, depending on the size of the document. It’s best to do it when you’re not half-asleep as well. Read through the manuscript, taking your time. Read it out loud or, if you’re like me and loathe the sound of your voice, mouth it and have a sexy sultry voice going off in your head. This is where you might catch what an editor missed. They’re only human and can’t catch everything. The author’s got to be just as vigilant. Again, it pays to have a clean manuscript. The author is always the one who’s going to get blamed in reviews that attack grammar and spelling.

In working with different publishers, only one had me do what was referred to as a pre-edit. Meaning, my editor wouldn’t touch it until I scrubbed it one last time. This was a novel and, while daunting, I found some errors. I even changed up the ending when I got the cover art before the edits started. First time ever I changed the story to add an element of the cover into it. 🙂

The best advice I can give is to have a good relationship with your editor. While their changes aren’t final, don’t dismiss their thoughts out of spite or ‘killing my baby’ syndrome. Be prepared to state your case. Of course, as I’ve said, some contracts might read that the publisher has the final say. That’s something to keep in mind when signing a contract but that’s a topic for another day.

Love your editor and the task they’ve been presented. Most publishers offer editing for free to their authors, others chagre. Some offer none. Choose wisely.