My publishing adventure: editing begins

Word on the street is that the publishing industry moves at glacial speeds. This has not been my experience. Not only did my book deal happen very quickly (less than two weeks from start to finish), my edit letter was sitting in my inbox the day after the deal was made. And my editor is super responsive. She gets back to me really fast when I have a question or need feedback on something. I even got a response from her on a Saturday, which I totally did not expect, because that’s not working hours!

So my edit letter is actually a letter plus a manuscript with inline comments. The comments are some relatively minor changes the editor wants, and the letter has the bigger changes that are needed, the ones that are more structural in nature. I am to make all the changes using “track changes” in Word.

Though I am feeling the pressure of my new deadline, I did not make any changes to the manuscript for the first week (except to rewrite one scene). The reason is that I am a look-before-you-leap kind of writer. I believe that revisions will actually go faster, and turn out better, if I put in sufficient “think time” before I start writing. It’s my process, and it’s always worked for me. I write most scenes in my head before I commit them to paper.

Also, I feel that when I am solving a problem (whether it’s a story problem or a software design problem–all these techniques applied equally to my previous job as a software developer), it is a mistake to leap at the first solution that comes to mind. Sometimes the most obvious solution is not the best one. In fiction, the most obvious solution is often the most cliched, so I am especially wary of it. If I give a problem a lot of think time, I can allow myself to think of many possible solutions to the problem and then pick the best one.

So I did a lot of thinking, and it was structured thinking. I started researching an issue the editor brought up (more on this in a later blog post). I reread the entire novel and then outlined it, scene by scene. Using that outline, I mapped out where I thought the new scenes ought to go.

When I felt I had a reasonable plan in mind, I emailed my editor, outlining the plan and telling her what scenes I planned to add or delete and where I expected them to go. Happily, she approved it (same day response–I tell you, she’s fast!) and gave me some feedback on a few things, so now I’m good to go. I’m still thinking a few things through, so I’ve begun doing the small edits she requested, since they’re independent of the larger changes, and then I’ll tackle the larger ones.

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12 Responses to My publishing adventure: editing begins

  1. Jessi Gage says:

    Thanks for sharing your thought process. I confess, I need to spend more time thinking before I write. That would probably reduce the amount of re-writing I have to do.

    • Amy Raby says:

      You know–maybe, maybe not. Everyone has their own process, and whatever works for you, do that. I think some people think best by writing their stories down, and if they have to rewrite a lot, that’s just they way they work. My fast drafting involves a great deal of rewriting during revision, because while I can write a scene in my head, I sure can’t write an entire novel in my head. Structural revision is unavoidable.

  2. It sounds like you have a great process. I try to plan before I write, but my characters rarely go in the direction I point. I’ve learned that, for me, it’s best to trust my intuition as it’s expressed through my characters. That intuition also lets me know when something isn’t right or is incomplete. The trick is figuring out the specifics.

    • Amy Raby says:

      Yeah, whatever works–everyone’s got their own process that suits them. I do a hybrid of planning and “pantsing.” I always know the general direction of the novel, how it will end and what its major turning points will be, but I have the same issue, characters and storylines tend to move in unexpected directions, so I don’t do much in the way of detailed outlining. My rough draft ends up being my outline.

  3. It sounds like a very user-friendly process. I’m learning the value of an outline, but it does me no good to make one before I start. I find that about halfway through is a good time to make one. It helps me see where the novel is really going, and helps me clean up the path to get there. Your willingness to think about it for a while is great. There’s not telling how much frustration and time you’ve saved yourself doing that.

    • Amy Raby says:

      And here’s the interesting thing–I’m going to have to modify my process for NAL, because they require a detailed synopsis well in advance of the manuscript, and I’ve always written my synopsis after writing the manuscript! So that is going to have to change. It appears that contracted authors who used to be pantsers have to become outliners, at least to a certain extent. I guess it’s lucky that I’ve always been at least a partial outliner! Incidentally, halfway through the first draft is about when I’m ready to make my outline, as well.

  4. Rhonda says:

    Could this happen to a better person? Probably not ::grin:: Congrats again. Now I’ve found you, you’ll have to put up with 5.6 comments 🙂

  5. Wow, what a quick process. Hoping for the same. My agent sent my novel went out to publishers last week. Nice blog here.

  6. I agree with using “think time” before any edit changes. I have also found this formula to be very helpful in the long run, and cause less problems both for me and the story I am working on.

    • Amy Raby says:

      My philosophy is, better to make the changes right the first time than to make them wrong and have to do them over and over. Saves time :).

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