Gearing up, part 1: editing

1

January 15, 2011 by Tracey S. Rosenberg

Had lunch with my publisher yesterday – which, as a friend of mine pointed out, is just an amazing thing to be able to say – though really it wasn’t lunch, though the chips at Spoon are chunky and good enough to make a meal out of, and also it was my publisher and my editor both.

As you might guess from that convoluted sentence, we talked about editing a lot.

To my amazement, though, the book is in pretty good shape. I recently read it through for the first time since I began querying back in late 2009. There were plenty of annoying bits I wanted to smooth out, and occasional sentences I couldn’t deduce the actual meaning of even though I wrote them, and one serious bit of historical research fail (at one point I described Himmler as head of the air force…). And chapters 4 and 5 need to be reworked because they’re choppy, with too many people being introduced and not enough of the main character’s diary. Overall, though, it held up to a close read, especially the final half, which had never actually *cough* been edited, owing to major rewrites.

The editing process was amazingly civilised, and my editor and I were both quite happy about it. It was a bit disheartening to find that even though I’ve lived in the UK for *mumble* years, and was deliberately trying to use British English, I still dropped in occasional Americanisms. But then, this is why editors exist, right?

Well, one reason of many. Not only for catching stray uses of ‘candy’ instead of ‘sweets’, but for getting at the heart of what I was trying to do, and exploring ways for the book to better accomplish this. After all, I may not have sat down and read the manuscript for over a year, but I’m still pretty close to it, and it can be difficult to be objective.

So I have a few chapters to rework, but they were the chapters I was doubtful about myself, and now I have a plan for how to fix them. Fantastic.

We discussed plenty of other things, but I’ll save book prize submissions and festivals and cover blurbs (oh my) for another entry. I’ll end here by commenting that even if the current proof copy is the original manuscript, complete with e-mail address and phone number included in the header (because La Shark taught me so), and accidentally has the publisher’s full name on the spine instead of the author’s…the fact that it’s an actual bound galley proof with my name on the cover is just freaking amazing.

(Also amazing: the fact that I purchased my tickets to Santiago, and from there to Easter Island. And yes, I did buy travel insurance. But mostly: EASTER ISLAND!)

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Photo credit: Rahima Subhan

Tiny bio

I live, work, and write in Edinburgh. I travel to other places as much as I can. To contact me, email writingmostly at gmail dot com.

Books

CURRENTLY READING: The Ginseng Hunter by Jeff Talarigo.

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