One Writer’s Journey: Editing
Blogger: Michelle Ule
Location: Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference
I knew I would have to be edited at some point, I just didn’t have any idea what that meant. My colleague Liz Johnson, who wrote A Star in the Night for the same A Log Cabin Christmas Collection, and I read through each other’s manuscripts and made comments. Beyond that, I figured someone would let me know when it was time for The Dogtrot Christmas to be edited.
My Facebook account got hacked in mid-February, and I had a difficult time clearing that up and getting myself back online with my regular e-mail account as a result. One day, I found an e-mail at work: my editor was desperately trying to reach me.
And that’s when I met Jamie Chavez.
Editors probably have to tell writers how much they love their projects, and Jamie is an excellent businesswoman. I preened at her kind words and then downloaded the letter describing where I needed to work.
I wasn’t too worried about it, editing is a good thing, and I was curious to see what errors I might have made. I also was a little nervous because I had a lot of things to do and the edited manuscript was due back in about a month–or, the day I returned from a vacation to Budapest.
The letter from my editor detailing “issues” was three pages long. I shared it with my critique group, since we met the next day and they had worked with me on this project. They were shell shocked. I laughed and felt chagrined.
That clever woman, Jamie Chavez, picked up every single plot point I had tried to fudge.
My husband read the letter. “She’s good,” he said halfway through the first page. “She’s very good,” he said halfway through the second page. When he finished he looked at me and asked, “What do you think?’
“She caught me!”
Using Track Changes, I went to work on my 16,986-word manuscript. I probably spent six hours combing through it again, explaining, tightening, altering words and engaging in a Track Changes discussion with the editor about the manuscript.
I loved it.
Before I sent the novellat back to her two days later, however, I contacted her with a worried e-mail. “I was very careful about how many words I used in writing this manuscript. If I make the changes you indicate, I’m going to go over my 17,000-word allotment.”
Jamie contacted her supervising editor at Barbour, Becky Germany, and learned I could go higher–as high as 20,000 words, if need be.
That gave me plenty of wriggle room and enabled me to make the excellent changes Jamie suggested. I’d also like to note I made no grammatical errors . . . 🙂
Final word count: 17,651
I returned the manuscript to Jamie, alerting her to my departure on April 2; I needed to be done with the editing sooner rather than later.
She got back to me with another round of Track Changes. She responded to my comments, accepted most of them, made a few more suggestions, we e-mailed back and forth a couple more times, and it was done. We sent in the completed manuscript two weeks early.
The marketing phase begins next.
A Log Cabin Christmas Collection will release in September 2011. Here’s the cover.
Have you worked with an editor? What have you learned about writing from having a professional go through your work line-by-line? What tricks do you use while self-editing?