If you’ve been following my blog, you know I’ve recently begun to navigate some uncharted waters. I wrote a short story based on a publisher’s prompt, went through many beta reads until I got it ‘right’, paused a long time before I hit the submit button, and managed to obtain that elusive publishing contract. I know. To a lot of people, a short story in an anthology is not the same as getting a novel accepted for publication, but to me…a publishing contract is a publishing contract. I’ll take it, baby! 🙂
But what happens after you sign the dotted line? (which isn’t dotted by the way, in case you’re wondering)
I can’t speak for the industry as a whole because this is my first venture, but for me, I’ve been assigned an editor. Now, if you’ve never worked with an editor, this can be a little daunting and scary. Editors are different than beta readers in the sense they have a feel for the market. They know what works and what doesn’t work. They know what to look for: grammar, logic, flow, story, clarity, sentence structure, specific errors, overuse of words, and many other elements.
I’d like to pause here for a moment and recommend two sites to help you fine-tune your document before you submit. There is the paid version of Autocrit, which is a fantastic piece of software, and there’s the poor man’s version (free), ProWritingAid. Both will help you find overused words and constructs, consistencies in hyphenation, US vs UK words, capitalization, spelling, cliché’s, redundancies, and so much more. Autocrit is a little better because it breaks down the sections into reports and explains errors in a bit more detail than ProWritingAid does, but not everyone has the $$$ for Autocrit and ProWritingAid performs well.
Okay, what happens after you get the contract and get an editor? You get your first line edits from the editor. This can be really scary and upsetting if you don’t know what to expect. Let me warn you, it may (and probably will), drive you to tears, but you can’t take it personally. Remember…your editor is your new best friend. (S)he will help you polish your gem and make it the best it can be. With that will come a few growing pains. You’ll get through them. Trust me.
When I got my first set of line edits, my manuscript looked like someone bled on it. There were bracketed comments in the middle of the document with editor notes in red. There were strike-throughs, comments, altered text, insertions, deletions. You name the editing mark, it was probably in there. Thankfully, my editor and I have an open line of communication (very important), and we’re able to bounce ideas off of each other and find solutions that work for both of us. So far, the ride has been a smooth one.
I’m currently on my second round of line edits along with what my editor refers to as the author line credits. This is where I go over the second line edits and make my changes to those. Again, the second round was difficult to look at because now we’re in the tweaking stage. Now we’re tightening the voice, keeping the pace consistent. Looking for additional grammatical errors that were overlooked. Finding plot holes. This means more cross-throughs, additions, deletions, text transfers. And, because I’m working with a publisher and an editor, I now have deadlines. I’ll talk more about that next week.
Overall, the experience so far has been intense and I’m learning a lot as far as accepting criticism, knowing when parts of my story don’t work and accepting they don’t work, and being a part of watching my story come to life the way it should. It’s an incredible journey, and one I’m glad I made, and it all started with the click of a button that said, ‘Submit’.