I just completed the final copy edit of my third novel. I Do Solemnly Swear, a political thriller, is scheduled for release on October 16, 2012. As I’ve mentioned in prior posts, unless you’ve published a book and have gone through the editorial process, it’s unlikely that you have any idea just how painstaking the process is.
First, you have the author edits, where the writer takes the first draft and polishes it to the best of his or her ability. For me, before I submit a manuscript to my editor at Amazon Publishing, I generally edit it 5 or 6 times—each time focusing on a different aspect of the book. I look at the narrative, dialogue, the pace, the plausibility of the plot, character development, language, punctuation, sentence structure—I think you get the picture.
What I find amazing is the fact that after I go through what I believe is a comprehensive editorial process, feeling that the manuscript is near perfect, my publisher puts it through an even more grueling course of action and literally tears it apart. It all begins with what publishers call a content or developmental edit. Basically, a professional editor goes through the entire manuscript and scrutinizes everything. And I mean everything! The editor makes notations on nearly every page—some are minor, quick fixes, others require that I completely change a plot twist or the personality of a character.
Once I complete this comprehensive edit, guess what happens next. The editor goes through the manuscript a second time, and then a third time, dissecting every word, sentence, and paragraph, carefully examining every facet of the story. You would think that once this process is completed that my work is finished, right? Well, think again.
Now the manuscript goes to a copy editor who focuses his or her attention on grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and language rules based on the Chicago Manual of Style, the standard used by most editors. When this is completed, I finally get the pleasure of writing two of my favorite words: “The End”.
During this whole process, I often wonder if all books are so meticulously edited. I mean seriously, do you think that Stephen King, or John Grisham, or James Patterson are put through such a rigorous procedure? Of course, if indeed they are, I’m sure that they have a qualified staff to do the grunt work. Maybe someday, I’ll earn that right myself. But I’m not holding my breath.