Editing’s Many Layers, #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

Small presses don’t have the reputation that larger presses do of maintaining high editorial standards. But my experience with these presses, especially the one that published Curva Peligrosa, my second novel, has been revelatory.

Before submitting the manuscript to the press for its consideration. I had been through it numerous times on my own, seeking to strengthen it. I also had hired two different professional editors to read and review it. They made valuable suggestions, many of which I used as a basis for additional rewrites.

However, while interacting with my publisher/editor, I discovered a whole new level of revising. She did one read through where she looked at overarching problems that should be addressed. Then, she went through her second review that consisted largely of line editing. In the process, she discovered many inconsistencies that are unavoidable in a 300+ page work. She also made numerous suggestions that helped me to add important detail or to deepen/streamline the narrative. It was an invaluable experience to have this attentive and intelligent questioning of passages that I thought were complete.

Of course, I resisted some of her comments, and I didn’t act on all of her recommendations—maybe two thirds. Though she was deeply involved in Curva Peligrosa’s characters and action, it was my creation, and she didn’t know the book in the same way that I do. But, then, that’s my role as the author. And while I’m extremely grateful for her attentiveness, at times I also felt overwhelmed by the number of comments she made that often went beyond suggestions to the point where she seemed to be taking over my manuscript. The process was a delicate balancing act on her part and on mine.

But her observations also forced me to reconsider or question aspects of the work that I thought were finalized. That was the most painful part: as someone who has knitted in a past life, this process reminded me of what happens if you slip a stitch. The knitter can’t just keep going. She has to return to the place where the error occurred and start over from that point. It’s not a happy move. Yet ultimately, it will produce a finished garment that looks professional, not something marred by many snags and snarls.

Consequently, Curva Peligrosa is much stronger because of my publisher/editor’s involvement in it, and I’ve discovered how valuable this kind of intensive editing can be. While I gave birth to the world I’ve created and saw it grow from a tiny seed to a full-length novel, it helped enormously to have a sensitive eye that could assist in the midwifery. I believe I received more help in this process than I might have if a large publishing house had purchased the book. Seeing the characters and situations/settings through a sensitive reader’s eyes gave me deeper insight into the work in general.

My publisher/editor’s reading and response raised the narrative to another level, something not all published authors achieve. In the process, I’ve had to sometimes put my own role as writer aside and let the work itself have prominence. Otherwise, my ego would have been too involved in the outcome, and I wouldn’t have heeded all the valuable criticisms that improved the overall product.

Fine-tuning a novel takes not only an enormous amount of time but it also requires tremendous patience. Some passages that had made perfect sense to me seemed opaque through my attentive reader’s periscope. We novel writers need to be prepared for this kind of scrutiny. We may feel we’ve hit all of the notes in our many drafts, but we also need to recognize our limitations.

It requires a skilled reader to help us see what we’ve missed. And humiliating as that may be, it’s an essential part of the writing craft. Being able to take good criticism and make it part of the final product is as important as the flush of creation.

<p>To continue hopping through other great blogs in the monthly <b>#AuthorToolboxBlogHop</b> or to join,  <a href=”http://www.raimeygallant.com”><b><u>click here</u></b>.</a> </p>


Pen-L Publishing will be releasing my novel Freefall: A Divine Comedy on January 1, 2019, the first in a series of three books that feature Tillie.

18 thoughts on “Editing’s Many Layers, #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

  1. Thank you for sharing! I just recently did edits with a professional and identify with everything you’ve said here. Good for you, for sticking to your story while also letting it grow with your editor!

  2. Hi Lily! One thing I worry about is that when I start a revision, I often go back midway through and start at the beginning again, so my latter chapters may not be as tight as my earlier chapters. Great post! It was a little hard to find it, just so you’re aware. 🙂

  3. My first traditionally published book came with what I called 21 points of light. I accepted some (including deleting a scene I wish I still had). In my 2nd traditionally published book, my editor piecemealed the edits. I went through 400 pages at least 400 times, looking for one specific problem each time.
    Now I’m self-published and I use a variety of ways to clean up the work and make it acceptable.
    Thanks for the tips!

  4. Finding a trusted editor is akin to Red Bull when I’m tired. Wonderful. An agent I will forever respect went through my entire book, noting changes, before we ultimately parted ways. I was better for his involvement.

  5. Thanks so much for your post! Editing is certainly a balancing act, but being an active, engaged participant in the process is so rewarding. For me, my revision process often involves having multiple people give feedback, and then I find the patterns of what they all commented on and then use that to inform rewrites. I haven’t yet enlisted the services of a professional editor (that’s coming soon once I’ve made my rewrites!), so I really appreciate reading about your experience. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Thanks for sharing your experience. I have wonderful beta readers who catch the errors in my stories and make it better for it. I also have a great editor who tells me when something is working or isn’t — and she is great at finding and fixing vague sentences. Thankfully no-one on my “team” has ever tried to take over a project and force their will on me — it is, after all, their job to only guide, not to take over the project and make it their own.

    Ronel visiting on Author Toolbox blog hop day: eBooks — The Future or a Mistake?

  7. Your publisher/editor sounds really helpful 🙂
    It’s hard to take criticism, but necessary to improve. I completely agree that not all recommendations need actioning though. We know our stories best!

  8. This is a really good reminder about the importance of editors and critique partners, it’s so hard to accept criticism but ultimately it makes our novels better, and makes us better writers. Thanks for sharing!

Comments make my day. Please leave one!