I often wondered what it would be like working with an editor. I would hear my published writer friends talk about having to do their edits and revisions and making deadlines and I could only dream about someday being able to work on my own edits and revisions.
When my book was picked up by Harlequin, they assigned me an editor to whip my book into shape. Everyone thinks their manuscript is perfect but wait until your editor gets their hands on it. I had no idea what to expect but it turned out to be a positive learning experience.
The Developmental Edit
The editing process went something like this: my editor Jessica, read my manuscript again and sent me a letter called a developmental edit which ran about a page and a half. It covered suggestions for the story, plot holes, and major/minor storylines that needed further investigation. She set a deadline and I got down to work.
This edit proved to be daunting at times. I tackled the easier suggestions first to get into the rhythm of it, leaving the more difficult suggestions for last. Some of the more demanding ones involved rewriting entire scenes or fleshing out current characters or scenes further. Or creating a whole new sub-plot and then back tracking to carry the thread backwards and then forwards.
The Line Edit
Once the developmental edit was done I handed it back to her and she spent time doing the line edit. A line edit is just as it sounds. It is a line by line edit of the entire manuscript which involves not only punctuation, grammar, spelling and sentence structure but also involved moving things around, paring down paragraphs or beefing scenes up. It was time consuming. Fortunately, it was done in a Word Document using track changes, so once I got past the fact that my manuscript was awash in red, all I had to do was accept or reject her changes or create a compromise.
Developing a Relationship
Jessica and I settled into a good working relationship. At the time, I was living in Florida and had the chance to meet up with her in person when she came down for vacation with her family. We had started working on the first three chapters of my second book when we received the news that Harlequin was cancelling the line for which the book was intended. Major disappointment.
After giving it some considerable thought, I decided to forge ahead and self-publish. My only concern was the continuity of the story. I told Jessica of my decision and was pleased to learn that she freelances as an editor, which was a major relief to me as I needed books 2 and 3 of my series to “feel” like book 1.
Just as writers have their own voice, editors have their own stamp. Whether you are traditionally published or self-published, an editor is non-negotiable. Because of the stiff competition out there, your book needs to be in the best possible shape. The right editor should polish and tighten your work without sacrificing your voice.
* Purchase Michele’s first book in the Claire Daly series