My Publishing Journey: After the Contract

2361634503b7b73e35295f41ea709c26In a previous post, I promised to share my experience with the editing process after signing with Barking Rain Press. It’s important to note that my manuscript had been professionally edited prior to submission. This included a Developmental Edit (plot, character, timeline) and a Copyedit (punctuation, grammar, spelling).

Now, you might be thinking: Why go to the expense of hiring an editor if the publishing company will provide one? The reality is most of us don’t see our own mistakes (yes, even those of us, like me, who earn our living as editors). Competition is fierce. When it’s time to start sending your work out into the world, you want it to be as polished as possible.

But back to the publisher: They will almost certainly have a list of required edits, which should be clearly spelled out in the contract, along with deadlines for completion. A reputable publisher will also assign the editor (paid for by the publisher) to work with their authors. In my case, I was given the privilege to work with Narielle Living.

The first step in my latest journey was to convert The Hanged Man’s Noose from a 270-page word document into 54 separate .rtf files—one for every chapter. I won’t lie to you. It was tedious and time-consuming work. I also understood it was essential: each chapter is essentially treated like a short story within a much larger framework. This is much more than dotting some i’s and crossing some t’s. This is making sure the story works. The plot works. The characters stay believable.

When it comes to the actual editing, most editors (including the ones I have hired) work with MS Word Track Changes. Since I’ve been working as a freelance writer/editor since 2003, I’m very familiar the software, but if you’re not (and hope to be published), it’s a good thing to get comfy/cozy with. Basically, every change to the manuscript—whether it’s adding a comma, taking one out, changing a sentence, or completely revising an entire chapter—is tracked. Each tracked change can then be accepted or rejected. Comments can also be added, allowing for dialogue between editor and writer. Here’s an example of how a small change can make a big difference (click on image to view larger file):

Narielle's comments.

Narielle’s comments.

My rewrite.

My rewrite.

So, that’s the editing process in a nutshell. I’m not sure how other writers feel, but I loved every minute of it, from accepting the addition of a comma, to learning that there is no bacon in a Caesar salad. (Seriously, who knew? Where I live, it’s a standard addition!) Under Narielle’s careful tutelage, The Hanged Man’s Noose was made ready for the next steps: The publisher’s proof galley, cover art, and ARCs (Advance Review Copies). Stay tuned! We’re almost at the finish line.

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16 responses to “My Publishing Journey: After the Contract

  1. Judy Penz Sheluk

    You’re welcome Carol, re Kristina. I’m glad she connected with you. We have to support one another! As for my patience, I will say it is not one of my virtues, but I’m learning to control the impatient side of me. Wine helps. Bacon too 🙂

  2. Thank you Judy for sending Kristina Stanley my way. I greatly appreciate it and welcome more crime writers.
    I’ve always had bacon in a Caesar salad. That’s what I like about this salad! 🙂
    Your process is very interesting and I admire your dedication, courage and patience.

  3. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Thanks Grace!

  4. Grace Topping

    Thank you for taking us along on your journey. I’m learning a lot.

  5. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Hi Gillian, I didn’t find it hard work because it seemed like fun to me. I learned so much from Narielle that I will be able to carry forward to future novels. But for sure, the work is far from over just because you sign on the dotted line!

  6. gillian hobbs

    Interesting, Judy. It sounds as though preparing a book for publication is hard work and not as much fun as writing the story in the first place. A bit like having a baby I guess.

  7. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Thanks Kristina. I live by the old adage, “The harder I work, the luckier I get!”

  8. Kristina Stanley

    I can see you like to work hard! Sometimes there is tedious work to be done, but it’s worth it if it makes the final product better. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Hi Diane,

    In “Fine” restaurants, Caesar salad has no bacon (even in Ontario not sure about NS). But the point here was more that we don’t want to take the reader (who may well live in Boston or Miami) out of the story by questioning something that really isn’t essential to the story or plot line. The way around it might be to include a bit about having bacon in the salad being unique to specific areas, but again, to what end? Easier to change the meal 🙂

    I guess I’m so used to Track Changes now that it doesn’t bother me. I like that you can comment on the page, especially. Also that each change has to be approved or rejected. That’s important to me as an author.

    Thanks for reading! I’m hoping these posts are helpful.

  10. Judy Penz Sheluk

    You’re welcome Kathleen, though it may be different with other publishers. But I know from a couple author friends with 2 other presses that the editing process was the same.

  11. Judy Penz Sheluk

    I hope you do sign up for Bouchercon in Toronto, DA. We have some catching up to do!

  12. They put bacon bits in Caesar salads in Nova Scotia too. So if a character was eating one in this province, it only makes sense to put them in. I assume your character is eating the salad in a location where they are not normally put in.

    I’ve used the tracking in MS Word a bit, but I dislike it. Thankfully I never have to use it.

    Thanks for keeping us posted on your journey to publication.

  13. This is great information, Judy. I’m printing this one out to put in my editing file. Things have changed so much since I published my first book in 1996. All I did was send in my clean manuscript and then wait for the galleys, and then for my box of books. It also seems like the more I learn, the more I need to learn.

  14. Thanks for another helpful post, Judy – I’m enjoying reading about your process! Thanks for the link to Boucheron in Toronto, too – I’d forgotten about that – must sign up!
    So looking forward to seeing your completed book!!!

  15. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Hi Sheri, I don’t think any of us newbies really know what it’s all about, but I do think if you’re open to making changes, it is a lot of fun! I hope to repeat the process as well. Finishing up a second book, which isn’t really a sequel, but has a crossover character. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  16. eightpawswriting

    Hi Judy, it was fun to hear about your experience with editing. I was excited with every step of the process with Cindy Koepp. I have a fantastic critique group and I had polished the story as much as I knew how, but experiencing the editing process, one chapter at a time, was exhilarating and tons of work. One month after starting our changes, my husband surprised me with a new computer! New software, new system, and it turned the process into a wild ride into the unknown! Cindy was very patient as I learned to manipulate the changes. I’m hoping to start the process over again – and with no new surprises!
    Sheri Levy

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