Reader Question: Editorial process

What I want to know more about is the editorial process you went through with GHOST–-how long was your editorial letter, how many of them did you get, how big were the changes, how many drafts did your editor read?

Okay, some of this is working off of memory, because GHOST’s revisions started more than three years ago and I haven’t hung on to the ed. letters. (I kind of wish I had, as mementos of the process, but I’ve moved twice since then and you get to a point where anything you don’t absolutely have to hold on to, you chuck rather than find another box for it.)

The first editorial revision I did for GHOST was before it sold–an editor at Holt was interested but wanted some changes made before bringing it to acquisitions. That letter came by e-mail and was quite short (since it’s electronic I still have it so I can check): a little more than a page. It focused on one major character issue the editor had. I didn’t have to make any big changes, but I did need to adjust Cass’s voice and actions across the entire book, so I did a full rewrite.

That editor loved the rewrite, and was able to offer on the book. After which we went through three rounds of revisions. The first letter was about eight pages, I think, and involved taking out a subplot and replacing the scenes that referred to it with others, some more minor character and plot tweaking, and altering the pacing and some of the events at the climax and ending. The second (about four pages) was mostly small tweaks with some more changes to the ending and the third was line edits, so all in the marked up manuscript. (All three revision notes included a marked up manuscript as well as the letters.) For each of those I just made changes as I went and rewrote scenes only when necessary rather than rewriting the whole thing. Then we were on to copy-edits!

So in total… My editor read the original submission, the pre-offer revision I did for her, that revision again when she was coming up with the first editorial letter and marking up the manuscript, the first post-offer revision, the second post-offer revision, the third post-offer revision, the copy-edited manuscript, and the page proofs. So she read it at least eight times! Just one reason why an editor has to really be in love with a book to make an offer on it. Can you imagine reading the same book eight times in the course of a year and a half?


Reader Question: Editorial process — 1 Comment

  1. That’s so interesting about the editorial process, not only for your editor, but for you too. You’re right, that’s a lot of times of reading the same book over a relatively short period. And writing an 8 page revision letter. That’s a lot too. But it would be great having someone analyze your story in so much detail to help make it better. Sounds like you had a great editor. I hope you’ll share the process with your editor now.

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