Tuesday, April 6, 2010

So Many Emotions!

After Tracy's ultra-detailed and spot-on post yesterday, I'm not sure what new information I can add to the discussion of the logistics of what happens after an author turns a book in. It varies a bit, but most publishers follow a similar timeline: developmental edits, line edits, copyedits, galleys, second pass, final book. There might be some changes to this scenario, like in special circumstances when a book is really being pushed through quickly, so occasionally some steps might get combined. So, instead, I'm going to talk about another process that dovetails with the logistics of getting a book into publication: the author's emotions.

Step up, everyone, and witness Maureen's Rollercoaster of Writer-Crazy!

Developmental Edits: This is the first real feedback you get from your editor. Sure, he or she bought your book, so they don't totally hate it. But this is where they go, "It's great, BUT..." For Mom Jeans, this letter was ten pages looooong. And had sentences like, "No. Just no." Not surprisingly, this is also the stage where I cried my eyes out, gnashed my teeth, sent off a few pouty emails, had two glasses of wine, and realized my editor Katie was so, so right. And also? She's brilliant.

Line Edits: This is when your editor tells you if you pulled off your initial revisions. Thankfully, I did. *wipes sweat from brow* The real fine-tuning and clean up began here. Whereas the developmental edits are more global in scale, line edits are more like, "Cut this sentence. It sounds ridiculous." Not that specifically, but you know what I mean.

Copyedits: My eyes bugged out the first time I saw copyedits. I also instantly gained mucho respect for copyeditors. I'll never forget when I saw my copyedits for A Bump, and the copyeditor made a little note that I had Clare watching Lost on a Monday night, when, during that time period, Lost aired on Wednesday night. It made me chuckle, and completely realize that my book was Bigger Than Me at that stage.

Galley: Much screaming occurred at this stage, too. Because this was the first time I saw my book as a, well, book. It's all nicely bound, with a pretty cover. Even though there's some refining still to be done, and mistakes still exist on the pages, it's like a dress rehearsal. I started to actually believe, holding my words in between a shiny cover, that my little story was going to be an actual book.

Final Pass: This is your last shot to make any changes to the book. This is also the stage where I start freaking out, and want to heavily edit the entire book--rewording sentences, scrapping whole chapters, etc. But then I always see the little asterisk in my editor's letter that reads: "You may be charged for any extensive revisions made to the text." And suddenly, that sentence looks just fine.

Finished Book: Although the moment when twenty finished copies of A Bump dropped on my doorstep was fabulous and mind-blowing, at that point, I was somewhat Over It. I'd seen my book and edited my words about a hundred billion times. Don't get me wrong, I was thrilled to see it all finished and pretty, but my brain had moved on a bit to the next book, so I was just happy I didn't have to do any more copyedits!

Then, of course, the promotion really begins with book fairs, signings, launch parties and conferences, but that is when I switch out my "Writer" hat for my "Author" hat.


Tracy Madison said...

I love how you wrote this post! And it's cool seeing how the process differs from one house to another.

Jillian Cantor said...

Copy editors are amazing, aren't they? I'm always astounded/impressed by their attention to detail!!