Sunday, August 16, 2015

Sunday Musings: Revisiting: Oct 5 2014 - how to approach publishing house edits

Sundy Musings: October 5 2014

Sitting, Musing, Enjoying


We've approached the publisher and have been accepted.

Now we're facing edits.

Those who know me know I've offered a dartboard with my pic for their stress relief. I've even had one of you do a quiet freak feeling that I had butchered your book...we both laughed, no worries, no hard feelings.

Sometimes there's been disagreements...I can be pushy.

But in the end we've always reached some point of agreement...if not, don't tell me.

Let's share our experiences....

...How do you approach the publishing house's editing process?



MEG AMOR, author

Lol. The Butcher of Muse - Chris Speakman :-). It's got a ring to it. :-).

I'm actually weird. Yes I know that's an already established fact. :-). But I like editing and the process. I have a fabulous editor I work with with Susan Davis. But I still get the heebies going into a new edit. Then I settle down after the first lot of edits comes back.

My attitude is that the editor is there to cut and polish my MS into the gem it could be. Not to hack it to death.

If my editor suggests I take out the first 11 pages and start from a different point. I generally do. Because the truth is - when I see where she wants to start it from - I can usually see why. I also  tend to accept the majority of changes that don't matter here nor there to me in the grand scheme of things.

Some things I say no on because they don't work or because it's a NZ way of speech and the character is a Kiwi.

I tend to go with the house style. Eg American houses don't use the 's' on words like backwards. The only time I insisted one stay was for a NZ saying. 'He looked like he'd been dragged through a gorse bush backwards.'

My editor can always see things I can't. Thank god! I once had some water heated by a water tank outside. Question mark from Susan. :-) Oh yeah. Probably not something you'd have I'm Louisiana. Lol. In NZ - yes. But no. So I changed it. :-).

So I suppose I pretty much go with the changes unless there is something that is just wrong. As in - an idiom, speech pattern, terminology etc that would be wrong if it was changed.

I like the edit process. I like editing myself. And I like seeing the MS come into sharper focus. It's soothing for me.

So no. On the whole I don't want to stick an axe through an editors head or a dart through their left nostril on the dart board. Lol.

Aloha Meg.


First, let me say I love the editors with whom I've worked at Muse.  As a very senior editor in my own right, I know the importance and value of having advice and editing from another person who is NOT a beta reader.  Everyone needs an editor--even editors!

I always value critical thinking and that is what I look for from my editors... not changes in my ms to suit their world view unless they see something I miss because I'm too close in.  In that case, I appreciate them calling it to my attention with a suggested change, not just changing it out of hand.


I wait to see the edits. I usually accept the majority of suggested edits because by the completion of the manuscript I'm sure I see the forest more than the trees. There are times when I respond with an explanation of why I don't believe an edit will work, meaning why I wrote something the way I did. Usually the editor and I can come to an agreement - sometimes it means going with the edit, sometimes it means canceling the edit and my writing is left as is. Either way, I have been fortunate in that my editors and I have always been able to reach an editorial consensus together.


Sadly for the sake of this reply, my experience with editors has for the greater part of my career been not only productive but pleasurable.  A second pair of eyes, professional eyes, is essential to the presentation of a properly polished book or story.  The author simply knows his/her work too intimately to always be aware of the questions or insights that can arise in the minds of people reading it for the first time.  Those invaluable second eyes make sure the character who saves the day in Chapter Nineteen has not been killed off in Chapter Two.

To save my response from total dullness, I include an incident from long, long ago, far, far away in the days prior to general PC use when work was done on a hard-copy manuscript.  I received the already approved mss. of my third novel from what I assume was a line editor.  It was a mess.  My protagonist is not of Terran background, and his name reflects that fact.  It had been changed to the equivalent of "Joe Smith".  Sentences in paragraphs had been reversed.  The meaning of paragraphs had been altered or completely reversed.  Correct technical terms had been changed to incorrect ones.  (I attached notes with the appropriate definitions and sources.)  It took to a week-and-a-half working with an eraser and a couple of pads of post-it notes to undo the damage.  I then phoned my editor.  She said, "You're the third author who's complained about him, but he works very quickly."  I responded sweetly, "If he every puts a finger on one of my manuscripts again, I'll amputate from the wrist."

Luckily, that experience has remained unique, and it now make a good story.

CHUCK BOWIE, author

How do I approach the Publishing House's Editing process?

Excellent question. I hope to be approaching them for the third time, very soon! The first time, with Three Wrongs, I was so concerned. To be honest, I'd gone through many edits prior to this first (publisher's) go-round, I felt somewhat confident there'd be few changes, especially with the content editing.

I was so wrong.

Well, I was faced with two situations: the editor didn't understand what I was trying to do and I therefore had to 'help them understand'. Or, I couldn't bear to 'kill my darlings' and the editor would just have to accept my brilliance. Note: By the way, I'm doing a guest blog with thanks to Helena Fairfax, with the title Kill Your Darlings, about this. You should visit her blog on Oct. 17th, my drop date for Book 2: AMACAT.

But I digress.

Here's the problem. I was keenly aware of how little I knew about the powers and medicinal effects of the editing process. But my agent had hammered home one thing: If the reader, in this case, the editor, stops reading to 'fix' something, it does not matter WHY the reader stopped. In fact, my writing at that point had broken their suspension of disbelief. So, no matter why they stopped, something AT THAT POINT had to be fixed.

With book 2, AMACAT, I was more comfortable with my editors and their roles, so I sent them a little blurb, explaining my approach, and the ensuing relationship smoothed everything out.

Good question.


I approach the editing process with confidence in my contents editor and my line editor. Each of us want my novels to reach the highest possible standard. Once in a while my contents editor queries a historical fact or quotation and I explain them. It's a question of respect and trust.


One or two folk asked me how I would deal with an editor while I was waiting for Mariah's Marriage to re-appear. It's tempting to panic when you're a newbie, but I thought about it and knew I'd be okay because I've worked with theatre directors and actors. They speak, I listen, I speak, they listen.

And so it proved. Just as many directors bring a fresh eye to your script, Judy Roth brought a fresh eye to my novel. She also shook me out of my habit of leaving stuff unsaid so that readers have a fighting chance of finding the meaning. She also binned several thousand redundant 'thats'. Then Greta Gunsleman came along and sorted out the glitches in grammar and punctuation.

And both ladies left my British English voice well alone. Who could ask for more?


How do we approach the editor from Muse?

Ken:    Ohmigod! Did you see this e-mail from Chris?  Ohmigod!

Anne:  What are you talking about?

Ken:    She says it’s stupid to have both an exclamation point and a question mark at the end of a sentence. 

Anne:  Did she use the word “stupid”?

Ken:    Not in so many words.

Anne:  I think you’re overreacting.  You have to remember, Chris is on our side.  She wants the book to be as good as possible.

Ken:    I’m pretty sure she hates me.  Look, here she says we use “she” three times in a sentence and it refers to two different people and it’s confusing.  It’s not at all confusing, it’s … hmmmmm … maybe we should change that.

Anne:  Right … Let’s look closely at all of the suggestions, Ken.  Even if we don’t agree with the specific change, there is probably something wrong with the sentence or paragraph or whatever that prompted the comment.

Ken:    You’re so smart Anne.  How did I ever end up with someone like you?

Anne:  That’s an excellent question, Ken.

Ken:    Thanks!  But what about the exclamation point and the question mark?

Anne:  Chris is right on that one.  It really is stupid! 



Chris…LOL!  I love my authors. Oh, and editors learn from authors, too.





Dear reader, thank you again for joining us and we’d love to hear from you. Keep smiling and have a fun week. Never stop believing. See you next Sunday…nothing better than being cozy in bed with some Musings.

If you have a question or comment you’d like us to muse upon, do not hesitate to contact me Christine Steeves-Speakman  at MuseChrisChat@gmail.com

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