The other day, regaling a non-writing friend about my editing process, she commented that it seemed as if most of the work was done after the book was written. She has a point. And most writers would agree: if the road to a publishing deal is long, the one we have to negotiate in order to create a finished book can seem endless.
For me however, it’s never a chore. I embrace every aspect of the procedure & always have. It may be my inner researcher – I’m curious by nature – when writing a book I need to know how everything works. Not just the story as it unfolds through various incarnations & drafts; I’m fascinated by the editorial side too.
The final version of the copyedited manuscript of Wild Spinning Girls with notes from the proofreader arrived a week after my cataract operation. Generous editor offered to clear up the ‘bits’ for me but as I explained, my sight was pretty good & thank you, kindly, only I want to do it all myself.
In the end, there wasn’t that much to do, although any part of the process is always an exercise in careful observation. (Oh, look, another sneaky strikethrough no one spotted. *Polishes halo*) There were issues though – which is why we need proofreaders.
And thereby hangs my tale. With regard to copyeditors & proofreaders, most of us don’t know who we’re going to get. The published authors amongst you will have heard about them: copyeditors on a mission to willfully misunderstand your story, proofreaders who take every single semicolon you’ve ever conjured & turn them into commas. And don’t get me started on the fiends who were clearly born with a genetic resistance to the Oxford Comma.
I’m a lover of semicolons & yes, I overdo them. I also fail, repeatedly, to hyphenate that which requires hyphenating. I know I’m going to get a pasting, frankly, & wonder what the latest proofreader has up her sleeve.
I am here to tell you: Not All Proofreaders!
Did I get lucky or did I get lucky? Yes – semicolons have been thoroughly disarmed & replaced by nicely behaved commas. Quite right too – fair play. I have been allowed to hang on to the ones that matter & even been given a couple! Some nicely place colons too – who knew? It’s a joyous thing to have your words & authorial style respected. To have the corrections made with professionalism & an obvious eye to relevant detail. Even the single thing I disagreed about: a ‘voice’ quirk I insist on keeping – was critiqued with respect to ‘the author’s style.’
There are so many stages to creating a book: drafts & edits when you think, this is a load of rubbish, what the hell am I doing? Even when you accept you may be on to something, there’s a fine line between liking your story & loving it. And finally, there’s the last line to be crossed: the falling in love with it one. Now it’s done, thanks to the dedication of a fine editor, followed by the professionalism & respect of a proofreader I’ll probably never meet, I am finally in love with Wild Spinning Girls.
Four years ago I had only the vaguest idea what a copyedit was or why proofreaders were so essential. With only a few months to go until publication date – 20 February 2020 – I have no idea how this third book will be received or if I’ve pulled it off again. And that is also part of the process.
Fingers crossed, dear reader…