Letting Go Of Editing Fear
Writers tell me they are interested in hearing about the editing process with a traditional publisher after having self-published. What happens if you don’t agree with your new editor? What if you hate the newly designed cover? How do you negotiate? Or is that even an option?
I can only talk about my own experience so far, and I’ll share as much as possible here as things progress to publication. Right now my manuscript is being copy edited. That’s not to say it hasn’t been copy edited before. It has. At least four times by different eyes other than mine. But I welcome this last pass because, as we all know, there is always something to fix. Whether a grammatical error or a missed comma, I want the book to be as free of errors as humanly possible. I probably lost the ability to proof it myself at version three, which is a very long time ago. I have 13 versions of the manuscript taking up an entire cabinet in my office. They also live in a file on my computer and someday I will have the courage to throw out the hard copy version.
Reasonable Discussions Win Out
So far, I have had an extremely smooth relationship with my publisher. They are very sensitive to the author’s need to have input into editing, and in fact have not yet suggested any substantial edits. As I mentioned in my last post, we had some various iterations before arriving at a cover. When it is appropriate I may be able share those here. The first round of covers were far from my vision of a cover that reflected the content of my memoir. After consulting with my agent, we both agreed on that and approached the publisher with those concerns. They listened and came back with more options that included one that I felt hit just the right note and that I am truly excited about. I’m not saying there was no angst, but this was a moment when I knew I had the right publisher for my book.
Another discussion was about photos. If you have seen the self-published version of Replacement Child, there were photos introducing many of the chapters. I felt the photos were in context and added to the story that way. Most memoirs with photos, however, have a separate photo section on brighter paper within the book, which my editor was in favor of for mine. We talked about our different reasoning and I went back to look at other memoirs again. In the end I agreed that it adds interest for the reader to occasionally flip to the photo section while reading the story to take a look at the real life characters. That, along with the fact that it looks more professional convinced me. Now I am quite excited to see how this plays out in the finished book.
Self-Editing Never Stops
The other editing change was my idea. I had previously cut some chapters and sections that I wanted to take another look at including in the new release. Some were very minor, a paragraph or a line, but also two additional chapters to consider. I sent them over for my editor’s thoughts and she agreed that they enhanced the story. We will make the final decision after we hear back from the copy editor.
For writers who worry about relinquishing control to a traditional publisher, my experience is that this concern may be minimal if you are with the right publisher, you remain open to recommendations and also have a solid belief in your own vision for the final book.