Monday, August 1, 2011

Crossing Over, Part 3

In case this is your first time stopping by, I've been journaling my experience as a newbie author going through the publishing process for my debut YA novel, The Gift of Poseidon. You've stumbled upon Part 3: Line Edits and Copy Edits. Now, have a seat and no talking...

Line Edits

Are exactly how they sound. The editor goes through your manuscript line by line, checking for voice, style, wording, consistency. Probably more, but this is what I noticed in my own sacrificial, manuscript. The editor circles things and draws lines through them and writes notes in the margins that say, "Cut, ok? Dragging down the dialogue" or "This doesn't sound like something he'd say" or "Ew! Gross! Cut, ok?" (Truly. I blushed for days on this one.)

And yes, I said she wrote in the margin. I'm told that some editors like to use a program similar to theTrack Changes function in Word. You can just accept or decline the changes. My editor chose to print the MS, write all over it, and ship it to me. Which was the coolest thing ever. I used her notes and suggestions to revise the MS and emailed it back to her. As for the MS she shipped to me, scrawled-on and bleeding, I kept it as a keepsake. After all, this is the last time I'll ever go through this for the first time. :)

Copy Edits

Copy edits are the technical stage of editing. Again, the freshly line-edited MS was shipped to me, but this time, I was told NOT to change the MS and email it back. This time, I was to make notes as to what I wanted to keep or decline, and send only the notes back.

Though the copyeditor put me on Front Street a few times about my grammar, most of what came into question was related to my world-building. For instance, whether or not a certain word should be capitalized when it referred to an aspect of the Syrena world I created (Syrena are mermaids). She set up a style guide for my writing, meaning that if my character said, "like" instead of "as if", then that character needed to say this consistently throughout the MS.

Also, the copyeditor questioned whether or not to use italics, hypens, ellipsis. And when I say questioned, I mean she broke out the Merriam Webster and bladowed me with it. But sometimes, I didn't give a crap what the good ole' MW said. Sometimes I made up my own word, like, "fwopping" for instance, and I was going to keep it. Which is okay. Because that's what copyediting is for. :)

Now for the confession. I had a mini-meltdown during copyedits. I know, I DO know, how crazy it sounds to get emotional during the comma, period, semi-colon phase of editing. I mean, offing some punctuation isn't really a tear-jerking kind of activity. What happened was that I began to doubt myself and my ability. Not that I've never done that before (I'm a writer, remember?), but the thing is, when the MS is done with copyedits, it goes STRAIGHT TO ARCs. Book form. To you, the reader. Which means no more changes. Which means this is my last chance to impress you, to hook you, to protect myself from the evil book reviewers you are (well, you know, COULD be). And it scared the hello kitty out of me. There is a permanence about copyediting that makes it emotional. You'll see what I mean when you come to that bridge in your own journey.

But to end on a positive note, did I mention I got to see the copyright page??? Complete with ISBN???


  1. I'm so glad you wrote this post! I kept reading your tweets about the copy edits, and I was just about to ask you about the difference between the two ;o)

    p.s. meltdowns are allowed. My own edits make me want to cry--I can't imagine what someone else's edits of my ms will do to me! lol ;o)

  2. Hey Angela! I have a pretty brutal critique partner, but edits are a whole new form of torture. Now you are prepared for your upcoming publishing experience. I took one for the team!

  3. Anna, how exciting. I'm so happy for you and congrats on coming through all the editorial flogging. I can't wait to see the final product.

  4. Hey Anna! I found your site from your comment on Rachelle Gardner's blog. I'm currently working through my query letter and getting my manuscript into shape. I have read more than my fair share of advice on the querying process, so this series of yours on "what happens next" is very refreshing. Definitely appealed to my optimism. :) I wish more first-time writers would relate their post-querying experiences. Maybe they do and I just haven't found them. I certainly will when--that's WHEN--it happens to me. :)

    Thanks Anna!

  5. This is too exciting for words. I loved this. I love that she takes the time to edit on paper and ship it to you. There is something really personal about that.

    How exciting to see the copyright and ISBN!!! Woohoo! Makes it all the more real!!

  6. Haha! She is very brutal but so good & helpful (hopes she is reading this)! Love these posts.

    I was going to ask you about copy edits & acknowledgement pages but forgot. So cool. Almost there!!!

  7. Hi Becky! I can't wait to see the final product either, though it terrifies me. I stopped by your blog; LOVED the pic from Becoming Jane. :) Can you imagine writing an entire novel like that? Jane Austen is my hero.

    Collin, thanks so much for stopping over!I decided to share my experience because I know writers like myself need encouragement. I've been pulled away from the proverbial ledge many times, my friend. :) Welcome to my blog.

    Jen, I know! Don't think I'm a nerd but I thought how cool would it be if my great great great grandaughter took it to Antiques Roadshow one day. I saw a Gone With The Wind MS on there before...

    Mandie, sorry, she neglects my blog. You'll have to help me work on her. :)

  8. Colin-Soooo sorry to have mispelled your name! It's these darn fake nails... :(

  9. I'm so glad you visited my blog and I am thrilled to be a new follower of yours! Wow girl - I would have had a complete melt-down! You are amazing! This is so exciting and stressful and emotional and wonderful all at the same time. I can't wait to come back and see more. BTW- so cool to see the copyright page & ISBN. What a moment!

  10. Anna--No offense taken. At least you didn't mispronounce it--that bothers me more (short o, not a long o). :)

  11. I love this post. I hear every word you said, er, wrote. My editor did the physical copy to "Grade" so I got to lug the thing around and relate all the red scribblings into my writing program. It was a love/hate thing. But my editor rocks and he made huge improvements on my ms. But yes, loads of breakdowns and self-doubt going on through the entire process. I have one proof left before no more changes are allowed. I almost want to hit "Accept" just to get it over with. And some how, even with as much stress and drama and loss of sleep this has caused me, I am so ready to do it again. Call me crazy!

    Oh, and I can't wait to read your book. Sounds like fun!

  12. Abby, glad to see you over in these parts. Your English teacher was brilliant, and you were brilliant to recognize his brilliance.And we all doubt ourselves, but the brilliant ones step back. :)

    Colin-Baw hahahahahaha! "Short o, not long o"!!!! OMGosh!

    Wendy-I saw your post about your hubby winning the challenge and pulling up in his Jeep before you finished! I know know know how you feel. Isn't funny how in the beginning of edits it goes a lot slower than the middle to end? "Sure, change it, whatever, let's just get this done!" ;)

  13. After having read this whole post, I think it's safe to say that I'm so eager to read the actual book! Why can't 2012 come faster? :D

  14. You rock, Angel! I think you'll love it. Thanks for chatting w/me on Twitter! And in case you missed my tweet, I'm jealous of your blog! :)