An Overview of My Current Editing Process

Over the holiday, I took some vacation days (the first vacation days I’d taken since January, believe it or not. It’s been a crazy year). But one thing I couldn’t take a vacation from was the PERFECT PLACE TO DIE copy edits. For those of you who don’t know what copy edits are, allow me to explain.

The editing process for a book goes through many, many stages. There’s the first draft, when it’s just me and my computer, bravely hammering out something that hopefully mostly resembles the story I’d like to tell. These days, I typically start with an outline that’s two or three single spaced pages, painting a basic picture of what the main conflict is and how the protagonist goes about solving it (or succumbing to it). However, during that first draft, I still find out a ton about the book. Who the main character really is. What makes them tick. It’s like when you plan out a vacation and have an agenda of what you want to do, but then when you get to the city, you find it’s rarely just what you expected. You make changes to your plan based on how things go in real life.

These days, I take that first draft and throw it to my writing group. If I had more time, perhaps I’d do a second draft before I send it to them (that might be nicer to them, I suppose . . . ) but they’re hardy readers, and they can take a first draft just fine. I get feedback on what’s working and what’s not. Often, I get even more ideas about things I could do in the book. New directions to explore. Settings. Conflicts. I also reread it myself when I send it to them, and I inevitably see things I don’t like about it as well.

So then I take all that feedback and make a second draft. It’s usually very different from the first. I’ve found out through the process of writing that the story I thought I wanted to tell might not actually be the one I really want to tell. (The end goal is to tell the best story I can.) I get that second draft ready and then send it to my agent. We might have some back and forth drafts that happen then until we get it to the point where we feel like it’s ready to go on submission.

Assuming an editor likes it and buys it, then there’s always the next round of edits, where my editor opines on ways to improve the book even further. Once again, there’s usually some repeated rounds of drafting, with each pass getting easier and easier, as the final draft gets closer.

Once my editor and I agree we’ve got the book in top form, then it’s time for the copy edits. The copy editor looks through the book for grammar errors, factual errors, and inconsistencies. So in THE PERFECT PLACE TO DIE, for example, I found out from the copy editor that the giant Ferris wheel at the Chicago World’s Fair held 60 people per car instead of the 40 that I had put in there. That’s a factual error that’s now correct. An example of an inconsistency would be a spot where Etta (my main character) is sitting down at one point in the book, and then a few short sentences late sits down again. (Kind of hard to sit down twice, you know?)

And then there’s finally the grammar errors. I don’t usually have too many of those, but I definitely have my share. This time through, I discovered that I had a tendency to include a lot of interrupters which, grammatically speaking, needed more commas than I was comfortable with. Specifically, I’d include interrupters right after a conjunction. Technically, they’re supposed to have a comma around the entire interrupter, but I felt like that was just too many commas, and so in the end I decided to stet almost all of those commas. This might make my text more grammatically inconsistent, but . . . I just didn’t have it in me to leave those commas. They read wrong to me for the voice of my character.

In any case, the manuscript at this point is back with my editor, and they’re working on incorporating those last changes. I’m glad to be done with them, because it means I can go back to the first draft of THE AXEMAN, and the circle of life of a manuscript can continue.


Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Leave a comment