Having just finished edits on
Yours By Design Yours To Keep, I was asked a question I’ve been asked before, usually by aspiring authors or new authors stalking their inboxes, waiting for their first round of edits. What are edits like? I’ve seen others answer the same question and the answers are often similar in vague, possibly frustrating ways. It varies by author. It varies by editor. Both true but, more importantly, it varies by book.
Angela James and I have five years and twelve titles of varying lengths and subgenres together. By grabbing a random sampling of three from those twelve titles, I can give you a brief peek into what my edits are like and the only variable is the book. Same author. Same editor.
There were numerous editorial comments. Numerous. There weren’t really any heavy revisions involved, though. Awkward sentences. Timeline issues. Fleshing out some things leading into the resolution that were rushed in my desire to get to The End. Taking care of a few inconsistencies in motivation. Page after page of making the book stronger.
It was days of work, but nothing particularly “hard” or stressful. Just my editor and I happily working together to make my book the best it could be.
My first round edits on this title consisted of “This sucks so bad I’m not even going to bother reading any farther”. And I’m paraphrasing a little, but not much.
It was devastating. I had no coping skills for this. And I couldn’t shrug it off and shove it under the bed. This book was a done deal and I had to make it right. I rewrote the opening chapters and sent them off to her.
More panic. Rewrote the opening chapters and sent it off again.
Ohmigod levels of panic. Took a few breaths. Let go of the way I’d perceived the book. Rewrote the opening chapters. Again. Sent them in. Again.
“Now you’ve got it.”
That should have triggered a huge sigh of relief, except I had a whole book that no longer went with the opening chapters. So it was time to gut it and essentially start over. And the clock was ticking.
It was grueling. It wrecked me mentally. It wrecked me emotionally. It really wrecked me physically. My family suffered. My extended family essentially got locked out of my life. The dog and the cats learned to walk on tip-toes. I’d never had this happen to me and I had no coping skills for the process taking this hard, ugly turn on me. I wanted to quit a hundred times every day.
But I didn’t quit. Because along with every email telling me the book wasn’t what we wanted it to be, my editor was there with suggestions on how to fix it. Offers to call me so we could talk through it. And every email closed out with the same sentiment: I know you can do this. Her belief in me was the only thing that got me through day after day after day of my belief in myself being swept out from under me.
And we did it. Together my editor and I got through the hard and the grueling and the panic and the occasional temper flare and came out on the other side with a book we can both be proud of.
The timeline for this title, from my receiving edits to addressing the comments to sending it back to my editor to her accepting the edits and forwarding it for copy edits was less than three hours. It was that clean and, with the exception of some typos and grammar things and an awkwardly constructed sentence, I nailed it the first time.
It’s rare…but it happens.
What are edits like?
The moral of the story? I can’t tell you what your edits will be like. Nobody can tell you what your edits will be like. It doesn’t matter if your friend is with the same publisher—or even has the same editor—and tells you edits will be a breeze. It doesn’t matter if your edits have been minor in the past. Look at mine. The majority of my edits fall in the Title A category, but all of a sudden…BAM! Title B comes along.
Your edits will be whatever they need to be for your book.
Edits are about you and your editor making that book the best it can be. Those edits might be light or they might suck the creative soul from your body and leave you slumped—nothing but an empty shell—over your keyboard. And you do them, because that’s your job. It’s your job to make sure the reader who’s giving you her hard-earned money gets the best read you can give her and your editor is your partner.
Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s hard. But, in the end, you hope you have a book you can both be proud of.