#ContactForm1 { display: none ! important; }

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Content Edits - Behind the Scenes With EVEN VILLAINS FALL IN LOVE

Once you announce that you've sold your book you will get one of two questions...

1) How much did you make?
2) What do your editor notes look like?

The first question comes from everyone outside the publishing industry: family, friends, neighbors, the guy in the checkout line that you started talking to because you needed to tell *someone* that you'd sold a book...

The second question comes from all your friends inside the industry, the aspiring authors and the ones struggling through the heaps of rejection letters.

EVFIL is contracted with Breathless Press. They are a small e-publisher which means no royalties. I don't pay anything up front to publish like I would with a vanity press or self-publishing, but I don't get an advance like I would from a Big 6 publisher either. So the answer to Question #1 is... I'll know once I see the first royalty statement and the book starts selling.

The answer to the second questions is this...

My editor has a RTF (rich-text format) draft of EVFIL in Word. After I did the format editing she read through and made comments, moved sentences, and added my missing commas. There were also comments off to the side. All of this is done with the Review function of Word.

I treat edit each draft a little bit differently because the needs of the book tend to change. For the first draft I use my worksheets and try to get a broad overview, for a polishing run I'm looking at minutiae and picking the Best Word instead of the Spelled Correctly word. My usual approach for notes in Word is to open my draft, open the draft of notes, and go page by page correcting everything. This time I did something different.

Content Editing With Notes!

Step 1: Don't Panic
Seriously, the book is under contract and no editor is going to break contract via editing notes. Take a deep breath and move along.

Step 2: Read Everything
Read the notes, the changes, and the text. Before you start editing see if there is anything you disagree with or need clarification on. Beta-readers and editors are there to make suggestions, and 99% of those suggestions are going to be wonderful and make your work shine, but there's always that 1% that doesn't sit right. Also, there's a good chance a comment later in the book will give you an idea for a fix in chapter one.

Step 3: Add Notes
Not to your draft that you'll be working on, but to the same file with the editing notes. Like so:
The editor's notes are in purple, mine are in pink. There were several places where the editor asked me to clarify or describe something better. I used the notes section to respond to those questions, either by making a list of sensory terms that applied to the scene or doing some research so I could explain an aspect of a science theory in better detail.

Step 4: Save Everything
Never skip this step. Save. Back up your files in USB and in the Cloud. Do it. Do it now!

Step 5: Edit
I opened the last draft of EVFIL I'd worked on, saved it under a new name, and started going page-by-page through my annotated editing notes. By this point you'll fully understand what needs to be done and the process should be streamlined enough that you can edit with ease.

Step 6: One Final Read
Before handing your manuscript back over to the editor or your betas run spell check again. It doesn't matter how amazing you are, fingers slip. Run spell check, reread, and make sure you've addressed everything before sending.


  1. Thanks I needed that. It is very informative. Especially the RichText and editing things. I need to find out how those work. It will help I am sure. On another matter, my grand-daughter is law is pregnant with twin girls and she (they) are having issues with blood transfer and water issues. Stuff I do not understand, but I do understand prayer works and would appreciate any help in that area. Thanks for the help/ Speaking of Help just watched the movie and can give it a thumbs up.

  2. Ric- Prayers for healthy babies being sent your way. I hope everything turns out well. :o)

  3. Step one is why I panicked. There was so much red all over the edits that I expected an email at any moment saying 'sorry, we realize we've made a mistake and we DON'T actually want your book'. :-O
    Also to add - make sure you send the right file to your editor. On the last line edit I was so relieved to be finished that I completely forgot to send the file back at all!

  4. Pippa - I could totally see myself doing that! I was so tired when I sent the edits back I told the editor to let me know if I had sent the wrong file. And the pages... they bled red. It looks horrible at this stage!

  5. It's pretty horrifying the first time you open that edit document. :) But I'm sure files must get mixed up all the time with the game of email ping-pong that goes on with edits!