Road to Publication #7: Dealing with the Dreaded Line Edits.

I’m glad I slept on it before working on the line edits.  You definitely need time to separate yourself from your initial emotional response before you deal with something like this.  Your initial desire is to roll up your sleeves and fight for everything.

But I know that wouldn’t have been right.  In truth, 85% of the edits they made were spot on.  I wouldn’t have seen that in “angry author mode.”  I definitely needed to calm my little creative butt down.

What I did was this:  The day after looking at the marked-up copy that made me want to rant and rave and throw things… I sat down, and calmly opened the “clean” copy.

The clean copy is the version of what my MS would look like if I accepted all of the publisher’s suggestions.  It made it easier to read, without seeing my own words slashed out in red.  It made the process much less “emotional”.

I read along, and saw their changes.  Most were fine.  Move this sentence there, transpose that sentence.  Delete this word… no biggie.  Like I said… 85% of the changes were fine.

I remember another author telling me once, “Choose your battles while in the editing process.”  So, I sat back, and decided which were really so terrible that I could not live with them… that equated to about 15% of the changes.

There were a few things here and there that really bothered me.  They were silly editing mistakes, like changing a word to something else, but that word is already in the following sentence making it repetitive.  In cases like this, I changed it back, and wrote a note as to why.

Now here was the biggest problem.  At one point, it is important that a character rips her dress.  One page at the end of the scene shows how she rips her dress.  The editor didn’t like the scene, so they cut it.  However, they realized that it was important, so they added the line:  “Her dress was soiled and ripped after…”

I cringed.  The editor removed the “show” and replaced it with “tell”.  Nope… sorry.   Not in my story.

I didn’t change it back word for word, but I did re-write the scene to make it shorter, and flow better.  I did agree that it didn’t fit too well at first.  Now, however, it seems to flow better, and it is a quarter of its original length.

There were a few more sections where they cut out parts of conversations, leaving the end-product… umm, let’s just say that I had to re-write.

Before I submitted, I made sure to explain why I made all the changes.  I didn’t want to seem abrasive, but everything I “Fixed” I felt strongly about.  I would have been embarrassed if it was published the way it had been edited.

Now?  Well, I do think it is tighter after this editing.  It wasn’t all bad.

At the moment, I am just waiting on their reaction to my comments and re-edits.


39 responses to “Road to Publication #7: Dealing with the Dreaded Line Edits.

  1. That’s not too bad then. I always imagine things to be worse than they are, so 15% is really good. 🙂

  2. I so appreciate you sharing your process. I’m growing a thicker skin regarding edits, but a whole book of edits might hurt some (cringe).

  3. Jennifer Worrell

    I am with you on giving everything a little time. I hope I get to the point where a real-life editor reads my work. How exciting! Congrats!

  4. Great post. Thanks for sharing

  5. Great info to have, and I like how you thought through your reactions before carrying them out. I know angry author mode well, and it ain’t a purty sight 🙂 I am shocked though that they would “tell” about the ripped dress. After everything we hear regarding show vs tell, you’d think they’d handle it differently. I don’t blame you at all for fighting for what you believe in. We work long and hard to get our stories out there, and some of the areas simply can’t be sacrificed.

  6. You are my hero. Good job. I am so dang excited to read the final product.

  7. Went, not wend. Rats.

  8. Tomorrow I am tackling suggested edits from two beta readers. Wish me luck. Glad your wend 85% of the way well!

  9. Remember to breathe. You did good!

  10. It’s fascinating to get this inside view into the publication process! Thanks again for sharing all of this with your audience. You are helping a lot of people!

  11. I can’t wait to have my story edited. I think it will be exciting!

  12. Good luck–anxiously awaiting w/ you to see if they accept your edits!

  13. I enjoy reading about your process, because I’ll soon be facing it. My editor contacted my to say he was now starting on my manuscript. Needless to say, my anxiety shot up even more. I think your point about remaining objective is important, as is stepping away for a bit. I shall soon discover how good I am at both. 🙂

    • Yay! Well, not the anxiety part. 🙂 But yay that your editor has contacted you! It must feel like the reality of publication just took a big step forward. 🙂

      • Oh, it does. In fact, I don’t think it really hit me until his email. Seeing the words “I’m starting on your manuscript now” filled me with an exciting anxiety I’ve not quite felt before. And now mores pins and needles while I wait for his verdict.

        Thanks for your comment back to me. It’s nice to have people in the know to share the journey with. And it keeps my poor husband from having to hear about it endlessly. 🙂

    • Had you breath, read it, go scream, and come back when you are feeling better. Chocolate helps, too.

  14. I know how you feel. I remember seeing the very first time I ever got a mark up of a manuscript by a beta reader. I cried, then I got mad. I stepped away for a day or two and came back to the MS and considered all the suggestions. I have to admit I sort of feel that way whenever I get any feedback on my W.I.P., well, without the tears. I think it’s first gut instinct to raise the shields and arm ourselves when we see criticism over our ‘children’ we created. But we’re artists, and once we calm down, we can see that they weren’t criticizing, but helping. We all have to remember, though, editors are people, too, and they don’t understand the story the way we do. Sometimes we have to point it out to them. We have to enlighten them…gently.

    Your friend gave you some great advice to pick your editing battles. I know with Amulet I was blown away by a couple of changes because I’d struggled with them so long and couldn’t get them right. My editor came in and BOOM, they were done. All they needed was a little tweaking I couldn’t see because I was too close to the subject.

    Author, Robert Macomber told me once at a writer’s seminar to listen to my editor, that he or she knows what they’re talking about. If I do balk, make sure I have a darn good reason, I can back it up, and I can fight for it professionally. You did both. Hats off to you. Last Winter Red is a great story. I’ll be interested to see what the final edits are, too.

  15. Robert Gregory

    One day… You are right now living my aspiration. 🙂 Enjoy every ridiculously delicious minute of it!

  16. I was in a writing group in college, and that was one of the first things I realized I had to do: give myself time to think about the changes people made. My first instinct was to say that they were wrong and just didn’t get it. It took a few hours for their comments to sink in and for me to accept that they weren’t all wrong. It’s good to see that it’s not just me. 😀 I hope they like your changes! Good luck!

  17. I like your perspective in this, and the professionalism you showed in stepping away at first. I’ll be waiting to see what the response is when you get it back, but to me, it sounds like you were reasonable and willing to find a middle point. I’d like to think that as long as you show a willingness to work with them, they’d reciprocate. We’ll have to see though. Explaining your reasoning was definitely a good idea. I have a tendency to forget that I’m the only one who knows what I’m thinking, so I don’t remember to do things like that. Oops. 🙂

  18. Good luck Jenn and I hope there isn’t too much back and fourth on the line edits.