Road to Publication #6: The Dreaded Line Edits. Yes, it is as bad as everyone says.

When the email containing the line edits popped up from my publisher, my stomach sank.  Here it was, two weeks or so after I submitted my final MS to them.  This is the part that all writers dread.

I didn’t open the email for a while.  I calmly responded to everything else that was in my queue before I even looked at it.

Then, of course, I could procrastinate no longer.  It said in big bold print “READ THIS EMAIL BEFORE YOU OPEN THE ATTACHMENTS”.  Like a good little girl, I did.  It was probably good that I did, because it kept me from throwing things.

They explained first that one attachment shows all the edits they made, and in some cases, comments why they made them.  The second attachment was a clean copy that was not marked up, showing the MS as it would look if I accept all their suggestions/edits.

I grit my teeth, and opened the “marked up” attachment.

No, I was not happy.

To some extent, I expected this.  Every author I have spoken to has gone through it…  The slicing panic, the urge to kill, the personal affront. –My publisher warned in the email that I would feel this way, and gave leeway to vent to the poor marketing liaison if it would make me feel better. – I didn’t do that – I did the right thing.  I read it, I grit my teeth, and I went to bed.

There’s a ton to be learned here, so let me digest it all (and work on my MS, of course) and we’ll go through it next week.  Same Bat Time, same Bat Channel – eeeerrr… um… same web-site address, that is.

Awe, forget about it… Tune in next week.


60 responses to “Road to Publication #6: The Dreaded Line Edits. Yes, it is as bad as everyone says.

  1. If and when I ever get to this point I really hope I can do as you have done.
    Hang on in there!

  2. Hang in there. I’m sure you’re on top of your game.

  3. IntrovertedSarah

    I’m loving reading about your journey, far more than you loving it right now, but I’m looking forward to hearing the outcome of all your red pen adjustments. I hope the sleep made it a little better.

  4. Maybe you should’ve went to bed and read the email in the morning. I don’t think I would’ve been able to sleep after reading it.

  5. I hope you took a LONG nap. I don’t envy you your pain right now, but have really loved hearing about your publishing journey. It is so interesting.

  6. I’ve never had a line edit, never been published, but aren’t they very strong suggestions made by a very reliable critter.

    How bad is it? Would they change a word, phrase, or worse? This person from the other side of the page wants to know.

  7. Oiiiiii – Line edits! truly, the bane of our existence … but oh, so, necessary!

  8. Hang in there, Jennifer! You can do this! It’ a rite of passage, and you will get through to the other side. And you are helping so many of us by sharing your experiences. So, many thanks again!

  9. Take a gun, grab some old antiques, and go outside for target practive. I’ve never done this, but I hear it’s a great stress reliever! Congrats to you for getting through it. I know that would not be easy. I’m going through editing two books, one nonfiction with a client/ partner and a fiction manuscript of my own. It is nice to know other writers feel the same way before looking at critiques and suggested changes. Thanks for your great post!

  10. buy some cheep crockery at goodwill that you can break.

  11. Don’t despair. It will be great when it’s finished. I learned a lot about editing from my first book and the second was less painful.

  12. I look forward to hearing more about this, as I will be facing the same thing soon (or at least, I hope that email will eventually come; my editor hasn’t exactly been prompt 🙂 )

  13. A night’s perspective might be a nice break from the edits. Did it work? Hope so. Not having had to do this before, I have no idea the pain you’re feeling, but I can sincerely say I hope the edits aren’t too cruel and do, in fact, make the book even more awesome.

  14. Oh, I do so rememember the slicing and dicing with my book. At first, those endless editor requests were incredibly painful. Then, much to my surprise, the trimming got sort of fun. I wrote a pictue book, so the common refrain was “How can I make this shorter?” This oft repeated question became a sort of game for me. (YES! I shaved off another word without losing my “voice!”)

    In the end, I was delighted to discover that my pesky editor was right; shorter made it better.

  15. Did you agree with any of the edits or is it too early to tell?

  16. Wow, now you have me shaking in my boots! Not at that stage yet . . . they sent me a 13 page Style Guide and told me to conform my ms to that first, and shorten the flashbacks or move them or take them out . . . and then to send it in for line editing.

  17. Constructive criticism. Gah! Hate constructive criticism. But always benefit from it.

    If have read the unmarked completed one first…less reaction to seeing the corrections and more clear sight to see how it would look in the end. Seems like it would be less shocking that way?

  18. WHOOP! Early morning sentence-rework crash-and-burn. S/b
    “…but he kept some cliche twists…”

    Slinking away for more caffeine now.

  19. Your angst (looking for a word that’s better than anger) is totally understandable, Jennifer.

    I had one short story accepted for publication in an anthology, but the “collector” of the stories chose to rewrite the stories. No line edits for comments. No opportunity to rework where he had problems. He took my story, dropped much of the storyline, dumped my voice altogether, and flat-lined it to his non-emotive style.

    He didn’t like the hints of romance–the core of the story. I pulled my story and suffered through his whining pleas to let him publish it. Nope. I would have offered to let him publish under his own byline but he not kept some cliche twists that were faves of mine.

  20. I seriously feel your pain – they kill all the good babies don’t they – but it is all part of the whole being published thing —

    • Yeah. I expected it, but expecting, and actually seeing it are two different things. There is a “shock factor” initially. You definitely need to sit back and breathe.

  21. I’m really enjoying you taking us through all these stages with you – I’m not enjoying that you’re having a difficult time with some of it you understand, but I’m enjoying experiencing it all through your eyes!

  22. I just got back edits on a full length novel. There are a HEAP of alterations to the first 50-ish pages. My head revolted. My fingers refused to click the button to take me past each one. I quite possibly sulked (I do this a lot over edits), but after a couple of days away from looking at them/worrying over them, I managed to get through over 70 pages of them yesterday with barely a growl. Seeing what’s been done is always a shock initially. But trust me when I say that my work has ended up improved after edits every time. It just takes a strong person to suck up the pride and admit that these editors might actually know better than you. 🙂

  23. Oh, honey, I feel the pain. Been there. Done that. And I thought mark ups from beta and critique partners were bad. Heh, those were walks in the park on a sunny day with a slushy in hand compared to what a real editor/publisher will do to our babies. I’ll be waiting to see what you do with your publisher’s suggestions.

    • Hee Hee. The good thing about Betas is you can tell them to go take a flying leap if you want. This relationship is contractual (Not that I want to tell my publisher to take a flying leap. I LOVE them) WINK WINK 🙂