Thursday, January 13, 2011

How you find out all the ways you screwed your book up (reprise)

I’m back! Thanks to Frannie, Luc and Gabe for the guest posts over the last three days. I’ve got lots going on. My crit partner and agent are waiting on the novel formerly known as Hellbent, which I was hard at work revising.
Yes, that’s Gabe’s first POV =)

My agent is also waiting for wrinkly contracts:

And my editor is waiting on first pass pages for Original Sin, which I am busy marking up.
That’s why they make red pens, yes?

And, a whole bunch of you are waiting on signed galleys and books I was supposed to send weeks ago:
Sorry! They’re coming! I promise.

So, since I’m out of characters for guest posts, I’m going to rerun a post that’s pertinent to my current situation. I first ran it in July and many of you said it was helpful. For those of you who have always wondered about the revising and editing process a book goes through before it hits the shelves, here it is. Without further ado, here's my July post on all the ways you find out you screwed up your book:

I've been neck deep in Original Sin revisions for the past few weeks. And being neck deep in...well, you know, got me thinking about how much I've learned about the publishing process in the last seven months since my book deal. I belong to a really cool group of debut authors, The Elevensies, and we ask each other all kinds of stuff, because, for most of us, it's all a big mystery until it falls in our lap. And by it, I mean whatever the next step in the process is.
So, here's my rundown from book deal to shelves in a nutshell. Understand that there are variations between publishers and differences in nomenclature, but these are the basic steps in getting the actual manuscript ready to put out into the world.

Step one: Write a Book
You've gotta write something that someone wants to publish. Without that...well...

Step two: Revisions
Your editor reads your manuscript (usually more than once) and provides you with an editorial letter. I've heard other authors say they were shocked when they got their letter. One of the funniest stories I've heard is Margie Stohl's. She likes to tell the story of when they got their editorial letter for Beautiful Creatures and Kami was sure it was a mistake because their editor had told them how much she loved it. No matter how much your editor loves your manuscript, they WILL ask for some changes. Sometimes the changes are big and relate to pacing or plot. You may need to pull your manuscript apart and put it back together (aka: revising with a chainsaw). Other times it's smaller points such as character development or consistency. DO NOT BE SHOCKED when you get your letter. Average editorial letters, from what I've been able to glean, are usually between 5 and 10 pages, single-spaced. (My OS letter is 6) And that's when your editor LOVES your manuscript.

Step three: Line edits
Once you've turned your revised manuscript in to your editor, she/he will go through a line edit. Here, they'll ask you to clean up any lingering issues, fix smaller things like grammar and punctuation, and, if you're me, make you take out all your em dashes. Hi Melissa. =) *waves* Some editors do this hardcopy, others, electonically in Word using track changes. That all depends on their preference.

Step four: Copy edits
Once that's done, your manuscript "goes to production." That means it goes out to a copyeditor, who does a...well...copyedit. Copyedit is basically a more thorough line edit. This is when your manuscript becomes a study in red. Red ink EVERYWHERE. The copyeditor will pick out all the typos, make you fix your grammar, and also look for consistency throughout the manuscript. So if you spelled Marc Marc in chapter 1 and Mark in chapter 3, they're supposed to catch that, as well as any dangling subplots that need cleaning up after revisions. They will also mark spacing and punctuation for the typesetter. This is generally the last chance to make any major changes to the manuscript.

Step five: First pass pages
This is totally fun, but a little scary. It's when you get to see the typeset pages just as they will appear in your published book. It is also pretty final. You can fix typos or the occasional grammatical issue, but you can't add or cut a scene, or change the text significantly. So hopefully, between you, your editor and your copyeditor, you didn't drop the ball and majorly screw something up.

Step six: ARCs
You usually get these six-ish months pre-publication (for YA). This is basically your book. It usually has your cover art and everything. Usually there is still time to fix typos before the print run for your finished copies.


  1. Hi Lisa :)
    Thank you for the pictures.
    It is awesome to see work in progress before it is book form.
    All the best,

  2. Good luck tackling and conquering that list of must-dos, Lisa. And great post!! :-)

  3. I'm glad I'm not the only one whose contracts get wrinkly. If yours have coffee stains too then I'll really be happy ;)

  4. Loved this post, Lisa!!! Thank you for explaining the process now I'm off to read the character posts...okay, you know which one in particular... ;]

  5. Love how you break the process down and your awesome voice creeps in. :)

    Thanks for sharing.

  6. Thank you for the photo of the review copies. I've always wondered what they looked like!

  7. Wow! Gabe's POV - such a tease! That's so freaking awesome! I got so excited! I squinted my eyes to make sure I was able to read every single line of his first POV! :)

  8. I can't wait for Gabe's POV. I was disappointed he didn't have one in Personal Demons.

    Thanks for the comment on my review! I'd be interested in a review copy of Original Sin! You can have your publicist contact me if you'd like: thecozyreader @

  9. Yay! Gabe! And that scene. SWOON!

  10. swoon !! for sure I must say I loved Gabe in Personal demons we did not see enough of him,, Mind you I did root for the bad boy !! but hmmm now Im mind boggled ... cant wait to read Original sin :) thanks for the post on how everythig comes into place. !! and arcs how excting !!! ** twiddles fingers ** congrad on a fantastic read
    kat via facebook ;)