The Editing Process: Getting Your Manuscript Ready For Proofreading.

Todd Barselow, senior editor at Imajin Books, has just sent me his first pass at editing DESCENT and had this to say:

“My life would be so much easier if all the manuscripts that crossed my desk were as clean as yours.”

Wasn’t I surprised to find such a great comment and to find I didn’t have too much work to do revising the manuscript. As you know, the ARC for DESCENT went out last week, so I was pleased not too much would change.

How did I get to this point?

Yesterday, before my first coffee,  I opened my email and found the edited version of DESCENT waiting in my inbox. I have to admit I was nervous, so I finished my coffee, ate breakfast, walked the dog and when I could procrastinate no further, I opened the attachment.

The editing process went like this:

  • Imajin Books gave us a deadline of early May to complete the edits and send DESCENT to the proofreader.
  • Todd and I must both read the manuscript three times (minimum).
  • Todd reads once and sends DESCENT back to me labelled V1.
  • I accept/reject any proposed changes – it’s a good idea to learn how to use the review section in MSWord as this seems to be the industry standard for editing right now.
  • I send the manuscript back to Todd as V2, and we repeat the process two more times.

This may seem like a lot work, but I think it’s worth the effort if it means a better manuscript.

I would have sworn my manuscript was error free. But alas, it was not so. What did Todd suggest? What errors did he find? I’ve summarized a few items below, so you’ll get an overview.

  • Be consistent with the Oxford comma. I don’t use them, and somehow a few slipped into the manuscript.
  • Replace a period with a question mark. This happened in two places even though I know how to use a question mark.
  • Add an exclamation mark. I didn’t use any, and Todd suggested two be added in the climax scene to increase tension.
  • Too, to, two: Jokes on me. I used ‘to’, instead of ‘two’ in chapter two.
  • Be consistent with hyphens and follow Chicago Manual Of Style These are hard errors to catch, but he found a few.
  • Tiny words… ‘as’ instead of ‘if’, missing ‘of’, and reach missing the ‘ed’
  • Dialogue.  When addressing people, use a comma after Hi. “Hi, Donny.” is the correct form in dialogue.

That should give you an idea of how detailed the edit is. For the sake of not boring you, I didn’t include everything.

To get the manuscript to a place where Todd praised it, I followed the process as outlined in the For Writers section of my webpage.

I think you’re getting my point…It’s a large, okay huge, shall we say ginormous amount of work to polish a completed manuscript.

Gotta say thanks to the talented Todd Barselow for his eagle eye and for making my novel better!

If you haven’t read my blog before, I’ve signed on with Imajin Books and will blog about my publishing adventure. I’ll share what I learn and hope it helps someone out there get their novel published.

Thanks for reading…

Advertisements

Copyediting – Proofreading Process (Part Four)

First – thank you to everyone who has contributed thoughts on my blog and in LinkedIn. I’ve enjoyed putting my process out there and improving it based on the new ideas I’ve received.

We’ve made it through two readings of a manuscript. During the third reading, we get to propose changes that are subjective, and even though, as an editor, I want all my suggestions included in the next version of the manuscript, I have to accept that the author gets to decide how to handle each idea I put forward.

The first three blogs in this series are: Proofreading Process (Part One), Copyediting – Proofreading Process (Part Two) and Copyediting Proofreading Process (Part Three).

So here we go . . . Things to check during the third reading:

PASSIVE versus ACTIVE

Point out passive clauses but don’t change them. Passive or active is the author’s choice, but what if the author slipped into passive without noticing? I comment and then move on.

TENSE

Keep an ear out for tense and check for consistency. Tense can change during the course of a novel. Linwood Barclay uses past tense and present tense in his new novel Trust Your Eyes, but he keeps the tense consistent in each scene. The result is a fast paced, exciting novel. My point: It’s important to understand the author’s intent for tense and then edit accordingly.

FIRST, SECOND or THIRD PERSON      

This can change throughout a novel, but is it consistent per scene? If switching person takes away from the story, mention it to the author, but again, the author gets to decide whether to change it or not.

THAT

Check every use of that and decide if it’s needed. If that is not needed for clarity, suggest its removal. Here’s an example of when you don’t need that:

I used to think that it was easy to use a comma.

I used to think it was easy to use a comma.

The meaning of the second sentence without that is clear. Now compare the following two sentences, and I think you’ll agree that is needed.

Ignoring the shadows that vaguely reminded him of his long dead relatives, . . .

Ignoring the shadows vaguely reminded him of his long dead relatives, . . .

The meaning changes in the second sentence. That is needed  for clarity. The first sentence tells us the shadows remind him of dead relatives. The second sentence tells us ignoring the shadows reminds him of dead relatives.

ADJECTIVES

Are there cases where more than one adjective describes a noun? Yes? Then I ask if the author could pick the most important one and delete the others.

REPEATED WORDS

If a word jumps out at you as overused, it probably is. It’s okay to suggest alternatives, but it’s the author’s job to come up with a new word (if he/she agrees the word is overused).

WHAT’S NEXT?

I’ll post the final touches on Monday . . .

Thanks for reading 🙂