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Friday, May 25, 2012

The Pub Panel: Part 4, All About Editing

Read Parts 1-3 here.

Ranee`: Now I want to talk about editing processes. We've already delved into it, but I'd like get into details. First off, describe sort of the step by step process of editing with the editor at the publishing house.
Jennifer Griffith: If we're on edits now, JFP gave me three passes of full editorial treatment. They didn't ask for an overhaul, but they did for another of their authors (change the plot, etc.). Mine was "fix this little plot hole" and word choice stuff. They gave it good eyes.
Sherry Gammon: Editing is LONG! But I enjoy it. Anything is better than staring at a blank page. I had to cut a lot of scenes out. My original story was 150,000. I edited it down to 115,000ish. I also joined a group of writers and we share our work for critiquing. I also found this to be invaluable. And I hired you [Ranee`]. . . ;]

Jolene Perry: It SHOULD be like - you get a letter, and work on BIG stuff, and then the next run through should be -that still works, this doesn't work, and you get a little more technical. The last run-through should be all simple, tiny stuff. My best editorial notes so far have been from Sarah LaPolla who reps my friend Christa Desir - we write together.
Ranee`: Krista, you're editing experience with OF GRACE AND CHOCOLATE?
Krista: Well, can I tell about The Orchard? It's more interesting.
Ranee`: Oh yes, please do. :)
Krista: When I started editing my first book, my friend brought me over all her editing files: mag clippings, notes, etc, and then I studied everything I could find online. So I attacked all the passive voice, the unnecessary words, etc.
When I got it the acceptance, they asked me to consider losing two secondary characters, deepening three more characters, losing the last 60 pages and losing a subplot.
Jennifer Griffith: Did you make the changes they suggested, Krista?
Sherry Gammon: 60 pages??
Krista: It was interesting, because when I wrote to a certain point, I thought, "Wow if this were a movie, that would be the perfect ending. And then I wrote 60 more pages. HA.
Sherry Gammon: lol
Jennifer Griffith: That's so funny.
Krista: It was eye-opening and something I kept in mind when I wrote my other books.
Jolene Perry: I just had a chat with an editor and she said SO many people make the ending longer than it should be.
Jennifer Griffith: I submitted, and signed. Then three months later I was sent a MS with suggested changes and edits. I reviewed them and made some more edits plus their changes. Another month later, they sent another round. Then they did the ARC. Now it's in final edits for the typesetting. Is that what you're asking? I think the book had been doctored for two years by several beta readers from HEAVEN. Brilliant people helped me get it ready to submit.
I did SEVEN rewrites before submission.
That's a lot.
Ranee`: Yes. Yes it is!
Sherry Gammon: wow. Did you?
Ranee`: Did you have to cut scenes/characters etc. that you wanted to stay? (And we're focusing on for a publisher, not stuff you did before submission and acceptance.)
Jennifer Griffith: Not with this book, but with two previous books. In one, I had to completely revamp a character I liked but they found unlikable. It made it a stronger book, and they were able to point out things I couldn’t see in it. In another, they begged me to let the Galapagos Tortoise live, but if I had, it would have totally changed the story. The turtle had to die. They were crying over the dead tortoise—and I was so callous. I killed it anyway and they still published the book. Bless their hearts.
Krista: I did lose the secondary characters, which automatically lost the subplot, and had fun building the other characters up. It did make the story stronger and was worth the effort.
Jolene Perry: I'm doing an R and R for another publisher right now. We had to cut a LOT of scenes we loved.
Ranee`: R and R?
Jennifer Griffith: Railroad.
Jennifer Griffith: JK

Jolene Perry: R and R - revise and resubmit.
Sherry Gammon: I had to cut a lot of scenes out to get down to 115000 from 150000. But I saved them to use in other books.
Jolene Perry: We're still at the point where we like the original better, but we're trusting the editor because she's done some of my fav YA books EVER.
Ranee`: What is the relationship between you and your editor? Very involved? Or just a check-list type of deal?
Jennifer Griffith: Basically I took 90% of the suggested changes and asked questions about 5% and argued about the other 5%. For most of those I ended up getting my way. Is that what you’re asking? It was a good relationship. I appreciated all the time and input the editorial team put into making my book better.
My "editor" was a team
Jolene Perry: I haven't had the best relationship with any of them - simply because it's been almost non-existent. BUT - the lady we're working with now has been awesome - she's offered to look at pages for us as we go and we've written her twice to bounce ideas around. She loved the characters. We've been doing plot tweaks
Sherry Gammon: I love my editor
Ranee`: Oh, Sherry . . .
Jolene Perry: Sherry - you big suck up :)
Sherry Gammon: Oh yeah
Ranee`: Isn't she?
Jennifer Griffith: Who is Sherry's editor?
 Ranee`: That doesn't mean I'm going to be nice next time around Sherry. I'll be worse, because you know men now.
Jennifer Griffith: Oh! Lucky!
Krista: I have the same percentages as Jennifer. I needed to learn what questions to ask, though, because she kept forgetting I was new at this and would assume things.

Sherry Gammon: I also love my critique group. They have been WONDERFUL with my new books.
Jolene Perry: I have some AH-mazing crit people. Amazing.
Jennifer Griffith: My doc came as MS Word with comments in the margin. I just added my own comments in the margin and we did a "track changes" thing. It worked well. I don't know how other places do it.
Ranee`: That's how I do it, Jen.
Jolene Perry: Tribute color coded throughout the MS. It was really easy and made my job simple.

Ranee`: I know I've asked this time question over and over, but let's do the length of time between acceptance and the final edit. (I'd like to give people an idea of how long these things take)
Jennifer Griffith: I think I said this earlier. My first query to them, within about 2 weeks I got a request for the first three chapters, then another two weeks and they wanted the first 50 pages (or something like that), and then they wanted the full. Within 8 weeks from my initial query, I was signing a contract. From query to shelves, it will be 9 months. But to the final edit, about 6 months from contract signing.
Jolene Perry: Jennifer - that is SO fast.
Sherry Gammon: Not really a question for me. It took you about 10 days, and it took me 3 days to apply the edits
Jolene Perry: Very happy!
Krista: Um, Jan 2011 to November, 2011 for Of Grace and Chocolate. I think.
Jennifer Griffith: I got my foot in the door at the precise right time. It's much more luck than anything.
Sherry Gammon: so true
Jennifer Griffith: My son says, "Mom, they probably didn't have time to read other GOOD manuscripts before they picked yours." . . . Kids.

Ranee`: Okay, book covers. Tell me about how much input you had, etc.
Jolene Perry: On the next door boys I had none - fortunately I LOVE it. . . . Not my turn. Shutting up now.
Ranee`: Hahaha, you were first to answer. The teacher's pet had to copy and paste first. :D ;)
Jennifer Griffith: Teacher's Pet! Me!
Still waiting to see mine! I have heard it’s going to be great, but I am holding my breath. I gave them an idea of what I’d like to see on it, but they have the final say.
Sherry Gammon: 100% input. . . again, not really a question for me
Ranee`: No, Sherry, you mentioned you had someone help you with it. Tell us about that.
Sherry Gammon: Paul Beeley. I saw this really cool pix on the internet. I tried to find the artist, I found Paul instead. He said he could make me one 10x better, and he did. I had him add a few things that tied into my story. He said if I advertise him, he would do it for $35! He now does covers all the time.
Jolene Perry: Sherry - that's way happy.
Jennifer Griffith: Just a side note from an earlier experience, with my second book my publisher came up with a cover. I liked it okay—it needed to be a redheaded girl who was cute. She was, it was fine with me. I forwarded it to four or five friends/family to get their impression. They all said, “That’s the mystery shopper!” The publisher had used iStockPhoto, which happens a lot, I think, but it was a photo that was being used for a major ad campaign at the time. They all recognized it. (I didn’t.) So, the publisher laughed about that and then chose another photo, which turned out well. With my third book, it was a darling photo, but the skirt of the girl was too short, so I asked them to lengthen it so the character would appear to be “modest.” Because we’ve all been told “modest is hottest.” That’s been my experience.
Jolene Perry: I gave CFI this big doc [on book covers] that they ask for - ROFL on Jennifer But CFI didn't show me my cover until it was too late to change it.
We went through three on Night Sky and I still like mine SO much better than theirs.
Jennifer Griffith: The cover of Next Door Boys is SO great.
Jolene Perry: Thanks - I LOVE the cover for NDB. LOVE. It would be on my favorites list even if it wasn't my book, lol. That's very happy. Honestly - and this goes further up, but CFI does great covers, and that was a HUGE reason I signed with them.
Jennifer Griffith: Agreed about CFI's covers.
Jolene Perry: We went through FIVE on Knee Deep. I think we were both annoyed at the end of it. Whoever does their covers really loves Photoshop.
I LOVE doing covers, blog headers . . .
Krista: Covenant has a form you fill out now answering all kinds of visual questions about the book. It's great in that it gives the author at least a SENSE of having a say. But we still don’t, ha.
But I do think it guides them better on choosing a great cover. I love mine.
Ranee`: I really adore the OF GRACE AND CHOCOLATE cover. In fact, that's what I pictured you looking like until I saw a real picture. I do that though. Picture authors by the cover of their book. So weird . . .  
Jolene Perry: You can TOTALLY think I look like the girl on the cover of NDB. I'm cool with that :)
Krista: HAHA! That's the first time I’ve heard that. No, I don't look like Jill.

Returning Monday morning with more! Up next: Marketing! (Everyone was so excited.)


  1. I loved hearing about each of the different experiences/timelines with editing. There is so much to learn about the publication process so posts like this are very helpful.

    1. Leslie, I'm SO glad you found this helpful. The whole panel has been stuffed full of great information. THANKS for coming by to read. :)


About Me!

I've been writing since I was old enough to grasp a crayon--my grandma even has an early copy of a "book" I made her. I have a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Wyoming and will (hopefully) soon be starting a graduate program in English. When I'm not breaking up impromptu UFC fights in the living room or losing miserably to my boys at Uno, I'm ... well, writing or editing, of course! I'm married to my best friend, and we have three rambunctious but simply amazing little boys.


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