Slogging Through the Slough of Editing

Editing all the punctuationThe Slow Trail Home is nearly at the end of its editing journey. My editor returned the final manuscript to me last Sunday and I’ve spent the past week drowning in (virtual) red ink as I work my way slowly through her edits.

What exactly is copy editing?

Copy editing is the final step of the editing process. We’re long past plugging big plot holes or fixing characterization issues. This is the point where the editor goes through and catches all those punctuation and grammar errors that most writers just don’t have the training to deal with. I have a solid background in English. I was even an editor myself once upon a time. But there is no way I have the grasp of how these things go together that my editor–the awesome Amber at Et Al. Editing–has.

By now my editor knows my story and my characters nearly as well as I do. So she also looked for those little things that could trip up a reader and pull them out of the story. I’m talking about things like anachronisms, grammatically correct but convoluted sentences, unusual vocabulary, point of view errors, and the like.

Why is it taking so long?

I really shouldn’t complain about the amount of time I am spending on going through my editor’s comments and insertions and deletions. Amber is incredibly detail-oriented and has spent weeks poring over all 351 pages of my manuscript. That’s 164,000+ words. There is very little that has escaped her eagle eye. She’s even caught little things like the extra spaces between words and the fact that I named two horses and two dogs Buck and Mo (I’ll fix that). My work is a hundred times better because of her skill set. No, the honest truth is, a lot of the mess I’m currently pushing through is my own darn fault.

Time-saving Hint: Don’t get impatient and do a bunch of tweaking and formatting while waiting for your manuscript to be returned to you, otherwise you’ll have to transfer all those edits one at a time from the edited document to your updated and nicely formatted document, instead of just accepting or deleting the edits directly in the original document and then formatting the blasted thing (growl, grumble, gripe).

What comes next?

When I finish this step, I’ll add in internal matter (maps, glossary, table of contents). Then my editor will read through the manuscript one last time. She calls this a “cleanup pass.” After that comes the final push to publication. This includes book cover design and the final formatting for Kindle and paperback publishing. I’m hoping to have the Kindle version ready by the end of March, followed by the paperback in the first half of April. (Lord willin’ and the crik don’t rise.)

Now it’s back to editing I go. . .

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