The Point of No Return

August 30th, 2004 · 4 Comments
by Booksquare

We’d like to thank Gena for her time — and remind her that we are the Master now. She must dance to our tune until we tire of toying with her. We will, however, give her a few minutes off to eat.

Well, that seemed like enough time to us. Now it’s back to work. First, we’d like to remind Gena that when she told us things in strict confidence, we had our fingers crossed behind our back. Probably, we should have mentioned this earlier, but things get so crazy around here. We bring this up because we’re going to talk about The Stone Prince and how it went from a longhand mess (we write longhand, we know the truth) to a living, breathing book:

Okay, Gena, you confessed to us (in a secret, private email not to be shared with anyone) that you wanted to snatch the book back and fix all sorts of things (actual language was slightly more violent, but we don’t want to ruin any reputations).

How does a book become a book? We’ll talk about your agent’s role in the process later, so let’s focus on what the author, uh, endures after selling. That’s right — give us the dirt on copy edits, line edits, disagreements with editors…what can we look forward to, and, of course, what do you wish someone had sat you down and told you. And then repeated it until you’d never forget those words of wisdom?

File Under: Wrapped Up In Books

4 responses so far ↓

  • Gena Showalter // Aug 30, 2004 at 2:32 pm

    Drat you, booksquare! Now I must share all my secrets. (All right, so I’m a big mouth and I love to talk.) My copy and line edits came together. It looked like a critiqued manuscript, some words/sentences marked out, questions in the margins. The editors found severely repeated words/phrases (Yes, that does happen. Yes, that does happen), as well as inconsistencies within the scenes. Ex: At the beginning of one chapter, my character had bare feet. By the end of the chapter, he was wearing socks and shoes — but he’d never taken the time to put them on. They magically appeared. Now granted, in my books that kind of thing can happen. However, I either had to acknowledge that it magically happened or make some sort of reference to him putting on those shoes. So I went over the edits, making sure I agreed with the changes, then I fixed the inconsistencies. A few months later, I received the galleys/author alterations. This is a double spaced manuscript with every line numbered in the margin. Authors are supposed to make very little changes here. This is where you find typos and such. So I made my changes (I like to tinker, so I’m sure I had more changes than normal) and a few months later received an actual copy of the book. That day was sheer heaven — and hell. Here’s the advice I wish I’d gotten after I sold: Do not, I repeat, do not read your book once it comes to you in book form. I found things I wanted to change, but couldn’t. It was too late.

    As for editorial disagreements. . .I honestly haven’t had any!! I have *the* most amazing editors. Tracy Farrell with HQN and Lauren McKenna with Pocket. I like to think of it this way. Those two ladies have been in the business longer than I have, they know what works and what doesn’t. If they think I need to make a change, baby I’m making the change. I’m too close to my books — I’m like the mother who thinks her wrinkled, red and splotchy newborn is the most beautiful sight in the world — so sometimes I don’t see the flaws. I need that extra pair of eyes.

  • booksquare // Aug 30, 2004 at 5:49 pm

    Okay, pretend you’re speaking to someone who is very slow (like me). What are line edits and what are copy edits? As in, what is the difference between the two?

    I have the experience of thumbing through a (unnamed, but we call her Jill) friend’s line or copy edits (see above about not getting the difference) — while on the surface, they seemed minor, they also seemed…voluminous. How do you tackle such a large project?

  • Gena Showalter // Aug 31, 2004 at 6:24 pm

    This is my understanding, and I could be totally wrong. Please correct me if I’m wrong. To me, the line edits are when someone has gone line by line searching for repeated words, typos, and that sort of thing. Copy edits (again, to me) are an overall view. Such as: why isn’t this character wearing shoes? He was wearing shoes a minute ago, but he never took them off. Where did the shoes go?

    Copy and line edits aren’t too bad. Before I start, I go over all questions that were raised — they come on a separate piece of paper and tell you exactly what page the problem is on — and flag those specific pages. Then I sit down with the manuscript and just start reading it like I would a regular book, making any new changes of my own, deciding if I like the copy/line edits, and fixing all the pages with questions/inconsistencies. For someone who likes to tinker with every word (that would be me), it’s actually a relief to go over these.

  • Shannon // Sep 1, 2004 at 5:53 pm

    This leads me to a question: how much actual editing do you do before you submit a book? I’ve heard that some people do like ten drafts while others do just one. How do you know when it’s ready to send out?