Wednesday, November 3, 2004

The editing process

In my entry about "revisions and securities" below, Sidonie made an interesting comment. She said, "We can't even compare our first, second, or even third drafts(AND, writing for a major NY publisher is totally different from writing for yourself or even some of the better e-publishers)to a best-selling author's final draft."

Probably true. Having written for both Bantam and NCP, I can tell you Bantam's edits were much more thorough than NCP's. However, even my Bantam editor left stuff in that from my current perspective I think should have been changed, like awkward POV shifts and too many d*mn adverbs. I honestly think my current releases are better edited than my New York book was. Why? Because I spend a whole lot of time revising, polishing, and tearing my writing to pieces, and then I have my critique partner (the long-suffering DH) do the same thing. And then I do it again, and then he does it again (yes, I'm still talking about editing:-). Furthermore, I have more experience and knowledge than I had when I wrote and edited my first book for Bantam. And yes, practice DOES make a difference. I confess modestly that I had a lot of raw talent when I wrote my first book, but the execution has been refined through subsequent books.

But I digress slightly. What I'm trying to say is that an author can't know how well her books are going to be edited, so she has to do the best possible job on them herself before they hit the editor's desk. This means serious time devoted to revision, as well as running the full manuscript by at least one other pair of eyes to catch mistakes and problems. My final drafts may not rival Lori Foster's final drafts, but they need to be as good as humanly possible.

This isn't to say my writing wouldn't be improved by some really stringent editing. I firmly believe all writers, no matter how talented, benefit from professional, solid editing. But you don't know that you're going to GET solid editing-- and even in New York you may get a junior editor who doesn't have a lot of experience-- so it behooves an author to make her manuscript as excellent as possible before it ever leaves her printer.

My current works-in-progress aren't quite there yet. But I hope they will be before too long!

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