Dealing With Editorial Feedback
I’ve been deep in my editing cave recently, getting Deadly Relations ready for release. This post is a summary of my editing process, with links to related posts I’ve done on my own blog over the years.
**Note: I’m an indie author. Those working with traditional publishers will have different systems, I’m sure.
After I’ve done all my self-editing (lots of posts on the topic here at TKZ), I send my editor what I think is a clean manuscript, and then she sends it back with her feedback.
The manuscript comes back to me as a Word file, and she uses Track Changes to mark things up. Not my favorite system, but it seems to be the norm.
First thing I do is save the manuscript with another name. Now I have three documents. The one I sent her, the one she sent back, and the one I’m fixing. A tip to keep from mixing them up. In Word, in the Design panel, up in the far right, there’s an option for Page Color.
My first pass is to go through and deal with the obvious. She’s the professional when it comes to things like punctuation, and I defer to her judgment. She also breaks up some of my paragraphs, and I trust her on those changes as well.
Typos? I cringe as I find things I should have caught before sending. Despite all my efforts to find them, they creep in like cockroaches. Zap.
Once the “easy” fixes are done, I go back and look at her comments. These will require more than a quick “Accept or Reject Change” click. I consider each one. Some of them are questions. My editor has a light hand, and she almost always ends her comments with “your call” if she’s suggesting changes. Or, she’ll make an addition to the text, but with “this is a suggestion; use your own words.”
As I go through her comments, I again do the “easy” ones first. She might suggest a speaker tag, or an action beat. Easy enough.
Then, it’s time to tackle the tougher ones. “Better transition needed here.” “Show this in dialogue, please.”
Or, the more challenging, “This needs to be on the page, not a summary.” “I’m not getting a feeling for the setting.” “Angie’s character seems harsh Can you soften her a little?” “The characters need to be kookier.”
(No way to run a search for kookiness, or lack thereof.)
My tip here: work on those sections in a new document. You’ve got to have confidence that your writing is strong enough to start over, not try to patch what’s already on the page. Some of your words are salvageable, but trying to write around them ends up creating a repair job.
Once I’ve dealt with all the changes, I send it back to my editor to see what she says. Most of the time, she agrees with my changes and fixes. Once that’s done, I’ll have Word read the “final” document to me. I’ll find more glitches and clunkers. After those are repaired, Deadly Relations will be ready to meet the public.
More on Track Changes here. Since then, I’ve adjusted my system, but the basics are there.
How about you, TKZers? Any tips to share?
Available for Pre-Order Deadly Relations.
Nothing Ever Happens in Mapleton … Until it Does
Gordon Hepler, Mapleton, Colorado’s Police Chief, is called away from a quiet Sunday with his wife to an emergency situation at the home he’s planning to sell. A man has chained himself to the front porch, threatening to set off an explosive.
Terry Odell is an award-winning author of Mystery and Romantic Suspense, although she prefers to think of them all as “Mysteries with Relationships.”