10, 9, 8, 7, 6…

Editing. More editing. 

Excitement. More excitement.

Nerves. More nerves.

Please Sir More work - oliver twist boy | Meme Generator

Some sticky points and how to smooth them over:

Sticky point: What, more edits?

Okay, so I know you already edited and polished your novel to perfection (possibly with your agent’s input) in order to prepare for submission. It must be a pretty brilliant story because it got you a publishing deal and we all know those are as common as hen’s teeth.

But getting a book to publication standard is a whole new thing. 

Depending on the type of writer you are, editorial could either be an amazing experience, or a drawn out and painful one. I am an editor not a drafter. I find first drafts difficult; my magic happens in rewrites and I generally love to edit. I feel so lucky to work with the best in the industry to take my story forward. But…that’s in retrospect! Parts of the editing process were really challenging with my debut. I doubted my own abilities at times, the learning curve was so steep. 

Smoothing tactics:

  • Remember you are all working towards the same goal as your editor. To make the book the best it can be.
  • Never respond to edits immediately. Whether they come by mail or phone, take your time absorbing them. If on phone, take notes, ask questions, say you’ll need time to take it in. An editorial report can be quite overwhelming, but given time, you’ll process it and see how it can be actioned. You can do this.
  • Never be afraid to ask for clarification if you need it.
  • It is your book, and the notes you are given are suggestions to make it better. If a problem is pointed out, assume it exists (even if your delicate writer’s ego hates that) but also know there are always multiple options on fixing it. Keep a dialogue open with your editor and this can turn into a really fun creative collaboration.
  • You’ve learned so much and they are paying you! You will take all of this new hands on editorial experience into your next book. What a result!

Sticky point: Copy-edits and proof-reading too? Will it ever end?

Editing is a long process overall, but you are given a relatively short amount of time for these last parts. This is where a supremely patient professional with eyes of a hawk makes you look a lot better than you actually are. I know some authors hate this stage (as an editing freak I love it) but give it your everything – last chance to make sure you are proud of every word on every page before your name is on the cover and it’s too late. 

Smoothing tactics:

  • Let go of making any more big changes. Unless it is absolutely essential, this is the time to start accepting the story is finished.
  • But…it is still your book. You don’t need to accept everything blindly. With my historical work I challenged quite a lot of copyedits in the dialogue for the USA version, as they felt right to me and were colloquial. Some were changed to make it work for both of us, some I overruled. 
  • By the time you get to the final proofread you really can’t change much as your book has already been typeset. This is really the time for noting proper errors rather than changing your mind about a word. Expect to change less than one thing per page. Check your contract as authors can even be charged for late changes although I haven’t heard of it actually happening.
  • Stroke those proof pages. Photograph them. Be excited… you did it! 

Check out Countdown to publication Part 2 – 

5, 4, 3, 2, 1…Blast Off!

Lindsay’s first book The Secret Deep came out in the UK in 2018 and the next, Darwin’s Dragons, is to be published in early 2021. She writes YA, MG and has adult and younger fiction works in progress. She reads in all genres and loves to edit, she is an experienced mentor plus a critique partner of published authors.

Lindsay came late to writing, self-taught, after a career teaching which is now part time. She is a slush-pile (talent pool!) conqueror who came from nowhere and had no contacts and – although it took a while – had the first ever book she wrote published by the excellent Chicken House.

An experienced teacher, Lindsay’s workshop style is upbeat, constructive and focuses on the practical. She is sensitive to those at different stages of their writing journeys and the courage it takes to share work. Her workshops have a positive supportive atmosphere, intended to empower writers. All questions are welcome.

Lindsay is also a Spark Mentor and runs our 6 week MG WriteMaster course.