Finished Book #3

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.




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8 responses to “Finished Book #3

  1. I self published a book this year. I edited it so much that I was sick of it. And then I asked Poolie to edit it as well. And still, when I got the book back for the final time, I found 2 errors in it. I can’t imagine having a real publisher looking it over. But you can be proud. and I know that you are…and you should be.

  2. dmannechino

    Someone once said, “There is no such thing as good writing; only good rewriting.” Amen. Congrats on self-publishing a book. What is the title?

  3. Steffan Piper

    Fantastic news. Love this post. All the best.

  4. dmannechino

    Thank you!

  5. So glad I found your blog as well as your books! I’ve just scratched the surface, but I’ll be going through your posts tracing the evolution of your career. I love to see how that journey unfolds.

    As for the editing process, it’s absolutely grueling and I can understand Terri’s comment about being sick of the book after that. It’s also crazy when you think about the number of hours, from start to finish, that go into creating a novel only to have readers blast through it in less than a day. I wish I could write fast enough to keep up!

    • dmannechino

      Having written fiction for nearly 20 years, I’ve taken my lumps and have made all the mistakes that struggling writers make. Every writer follows a different formula. Some have a complete and detailed outline before they even write the first word. Others write by the “seat of their pants.” When I begin writing a book, life as I know it ceases to exist. I immerse myself completely in the book and establish an intimate relationship with my characters. Most people have no idea how much effort it takes to write a full length novel, how many edits it’s gone through, how many changes in plot structure. As you said, something that may have taken you a thousand hours to create might be read in a few hours. Anyone who thinks writing is glamorous has never been to the party. I write because I can’t NOT write. It’s an addiction. I started book #4 a couple weeks ago and have already written 17,000 words. My fingers just can’t move fast enough to keep up with my brain. The more you write, the easier it gets. But before you reach a point where writing comes naturally, every writer has to pay his or her dues.

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