Thursday, December 29, 2005

Edits and such

My cast is off, but my arm is still not back to normal. My husband, who broke his elbow once, told me to be patient. Patient? I am not patient! I want to be able to use my arm Now! Every day it gets better though, so I guess resting it in the sling is the best idea. I can type, but not for very long. I have three books in for edits right now: A World Between - which is a science fiction novella to be paired with Virtual Murder will be coming out soon in paperback, so we're finishing edits and blurbs for that one. I just finished Apocalypse, a book for Changeling Press, and another book, Renegade Aquarius, for Ellora's cave, both under my pen name. So I've been busy this past week. All the books arrived for edits the day after I broke my arm (on Monday) so I had to call my editors and tell them to be patient. (they are patient, lol) And now I'm finishing up here and should be done by the new year.

I'm very concerned about edits. Have you ever picked up a book and been pulled out of the story by typos and poor editing? It's hard to get involved in the tale - you spend your time wishing you had a red pen. As an author, I try to turn in a clean copy. But when you are writing you get so lost in your own story you often push everything else to the back of your mind. A good editor is essential to an author. I don't know many authors who won't agree with me. A good editor is also important to the publisher. Putting out a poorly edited book makes the publisher look bad. When I read a book and find an editing error, I don't blame the author. I think, 'the editor and proofreader should have caught that!' Because in most of my publishing companies, there is an editor who works closely with me, and then there are proofreaders (usually two) who go through the book afterwards with a fine-tooth comb and clear up any typos they find.

Also, if you read a book with faulty editing, remember this: an author rarely has access to the final edition of their own book. The book gets edited by someone else, proofed by someone else, and published without the author's final approval. The author, after the first round of edits are done, doesn't see the book until it comes out in print. So it's important the author feels confident that the publisher is doing his best to put out a clean copy.

For one of my publishers - this is how it works. My contract does not give me ' final approval' for my manuscript. After first edits, I am obliged to OK the corrections already made and ignore the editing faults with the assurence they will be corrected by my editor. My other publishers all have a different policy - we work on the book together until the proofreaders get it, and I get all the edit copies and can go through them. Which method do I prefer? The second one, of course. I'm a perfectionist and I like to think my book is going out into the world with as few faults as possible. What kind of editing process would you prefer? (which reminds me, I better get back to work!)


Karen Scott said...

Hey you chnaged your blog template! Much better!!

Sam said...

Thanks Karen!
I am starting to become a geek, lol. I can adjust my template now. (took me a while to get it right)

Wynn Bexton said...

I found this a very interesting post -- the mechanics of editing/publishing a finished book.
Even with personal editing, don't you find your eyes slip over typos and spelling errors and you don't even notice? (especially typos 'cause at least most people use the spell-check). I'm amazed sometimes at how many errors I find in my own finished copy, even the short pieces like travel articles. So yes, you certainly hope there another editor whose job it is to perfect things.

Sam said...

I'm dyslexic so proofreading isn't really my forte. I'm good at grammer, so I don't worry about that. Mostly I try to catch repeated words, typos, and really stooopid mistakes like getting names switched around or forgetting a time-line. (Once I wrote the Golf of Mexico, lol)
My editors are terrific and catch most of my mistakes - because it boils down to my mistakes. But editors and proofreaders are supposed to spit and polish, lol.

Daisy Dexter Dobbs said...

First of all, Happy New Year to you and your family, Sam!! :-D

I’ve been an editor for years, and a damned good one, too. That said, when it comes to catching mistakes in my own manuscripts I tend to fall short. Embarrassingly so at times. :-0 Somehow I find my smarty-pants know-it-all self turning into Blunder Woman. LOL

In one of my books I actually had a character wearing finger symbols instead of cymbals. Eek! I was mortified that I’d done that when I know damn well what the correct word is. I never caught it when I proofed the manuscript. I’ve also been guilty of starting a story out with a character named “Hildegard” for instance. Then later I changed it to “Jane” instead. But my tiny brain kept inserting “Hildegard” here and there and I never realized it, even when proofing. LOL It was only when my editor asked who Hildegard was that I found out. Oh, and there are too many other dumb mistakes to mention.

I like the second method of editing that you described. I’m a bit of a control freak and want to make certain my books are as free of errors as possible. I’m always amazed at the number of NY print books I read that are so full of typos and grammatical errors that I just can’t get into the story. I’d hate to have that happen for readers of any of my books.

Patrice Michelle said...

Hi Sam! Happy New Year! Hmmm, it's interesting you mentioned your process for editing. I just did a fun FYI email to my readers about the process I go through. I've have to blog about that process once I'm done with my mini poll post. Oh, speaking of which, please stop by my blog and vote for your favorite title in the list. :)

autiej said...

This was a very interesting post, indeed. I am a published author, as well as a grammar and punctuation perfectionist (which comes from me also being an Administrative Assistant for years). I cannot STAND it when my "perfectly polished copy" gets tainted by the people who typeset it for publication.

On another note, I know there are a lot of authors out there who would rather let their creative juices flow than spend energy worrying about i before e or whether or not to use a semicolon - so I also work as a professional content editor... or a "book doctor," as some would put it. My rates are always only $1 a page, so email me at if any of you need help!