I’ll admit it: I still get a kick out of this whole publishing thing. I get an edit letter; I squeal. I get a cover; I squeal. I see it on a bookshelf; I squeal. I walk past random people on the street; I squeal and thrust signed bookmarks at them. I think you get the picture.
There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes when it comes to the whole book thing, and today I’m going to give you a sneak peek. Please be forewarned—there will be squealing. I just got an edit letter for my third book, DEMON DERBY. The edit letter can take many forms; some people get long, detailed letters; others get scribbles in the margins. My first edit letter was about three pages long and resulted in a complete rewrite of everything after chapter 8 and a long and drawn out debate over whether “awesomesauce” is one word or two. (It’s one, damn it! ONE!) My second was shorter and resulted in more fight scenes and a long and drawn out debate over whether Dickensheets is really a last name. (It is. I took it from my local phone book.)
Anyway, this round of edits consists of a pair of emails. And I’m just about to open them and give you a spoiler-free, semi-redacted peek at what it’s like.
Email 1 is a hecka-long scan of the first half of the book, so I’m going to bet that email 2 is the second half. SCORE! My logic is mind-boggling, right? And on the first page, lovely editor asks me to take out the boob joke. It’s become a tradition, even if she doesn’t realize it. I put a boob joke on every first page, and she suggests I give the manuscript a breast reduction, and then I laugh uproariously because my sense of humor hasn’t matured since I was 15.
Lots of logical questions about the first scene, including, “What’s a tooth ninja?!? Why is everyone in costume? I’m so confused!!!” I’m going to need to replace it. Also, did you know that Porta Potty is a trademarked name? Same with Dumpster. WHO KNEW?
And MOOORE logical questions. Apparently, the rest of the world doesn’t live with ninjas, and therefore they don’t know all the things I take for granted (because I live with a ninja). So either I have to fix this or provide a free ninja with every copy. I make a note to check and see how many surplus ninjas I have available.
Now we’re about a third of the way into the manny and getting into character questions. My love interest might be coming off too old, and then 20 pages later, he flies off the handle and comes off as immature. That gets me thinking about the differences between 20-something guys and high school guys. This is something I’m going to have to work to wrap my head around. What do you think the differences are?
So I just moved on to email 2, and I’m thinking, “Okay, I can fix those plot holes and work on the character development a little. At least my pacing is good.” What’s the first note that I see in email 2? WORK ON THE PACING HERE. *headdesk*
Does anyone know what “Comma? Smoothies?” means? Do the smoothies need a comma? Is my comma use so bad that she needs a smoothie? I am very confused by this. I wonder if they put it in here just to mess with my head. If so, that is AWESOME.
I’ll be reworking the last scene to make it a little tighter and more interesting. And for some reason, the phrase “shades of grey” now sounds vaguely pervy. We’ll be taking that out.
And that’s the end! I think that’s the awesome part of a good edit letter—it makes it really clear what works in the draft and what doesn’t. So what happens next is that I will edit (well, I’ll procrastinate, and then edit a little, and then procrastinate some more), and send it to my critiquers, and edit a little more, and send back to my editor. Who then edits again, focusing on details like word choice and logic and commas (and maybe smoothies). And then I edit again, and then she might or might not edit again. And then the copyeditor—YOU GUESSED IT—edits some more. It’s like an orgy of edits. Ever wonder why it takes so long to get a book out? MONTHS AND MONTHS OF EDITS. And then it’s done, and I get myself a smoothie to celebrate and hope we didn’t miss any edits, which I think inevitably happens.
So that’s what my next month or so will look like. Easy peasy, right? What are you up to?