E is for Editing

EFor the past week, I have been embroiled in edits for I Heart Robot, my YA science fiction novel due for release from Month9Books in January 2015. So, I thought I’d share my editing process with you as well as a snippet from the book… There is nothing more exciting and simultaneously terrifying as receiving an editorial letter. When I received my edits from Month9Books, I couldn’t wait to dive into them, to re-immerse myself in the world of androids and fall in love with my story again. I was equally petrified that the book would require mammoth rewrites in order to be good enough for publication. There’s always a nagging self-doubt that rears its end when I’m getting feedback on my writing, especially when it comes from a publisher.

Step 1:

Fortified by coffee, I opened up my editorial letter and read it slowly, digesting every comment. I am supremely lucky that I have a fabulous editorial agent. Jordy helped me polish up my ms prior to submission, eradicating plot holes, shoring up character arcs etc. Her skills as an editor definitely benefited me and the story because the edits from my publisher were neither mammoth nor terrifying. They were spot on and things I immediately knew how to ‘fix.’ Smiling, I read my letter another four times, making mental notes of the scenes I knew would need some work.

Step 2:

With developmental notes at the back of my mind, I opened up the edited ms and set about accepting or rejecting changes. During this step, I ignore almost all comments about developmental things, focusing only on getting the basics right, like grammar and sentence structure and converting those pesky UK spellings to US ones. I didn’t touch a single developmental edit on this day.

Step 4:

A new day, a new pot of coffee. I hit play on my I Heart Robot playlist, reread my editorial letter and started reading the ms from page 1. Now I paid attention to all the comments in the margin, I considered every word choice and questioned the relevance of every scene. In about 6 hours of bum-in-chairing, I only managed to go through 50 pages because there were scenes I needed to prune or expand and that sort of rewriting can’t be rushed.

Step 5:

I’m currently still on step 4 right now, having only been through about 100 pages or so of my 260 page manuscript, but I can tell you that step 5 will be another read through of the novel, carefully considering all the reworkings of scenes. Only once I’m satisfied that my edits reflect what was in the editorial letter will I submit my ms to my publisher.

There you go, five steps for first round edits. All my previously published novels have required a minimum of three rounds of edits: content/developmental round, line edits and proofreading. And each round requires a number of steps for adequate completion – so yes this is a long process and this is why my book only comes out in January!

Now for a snippet from I Heart Robot. This short excerpt comes from my android, Quinn, who is also a violinist:

The weird and wild gather at my feet and I know what it is to be a god. I play, sawing and arcing, letting the frenzied music spool from some hidden recess in my core, out through my fingers, and into the night. And they say that a robot has no soul.

What are your thoughts on the editing process? Got any questions about edits and publishing?

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