Monday, November 23, 2009

From Contract to Publication: The Editing Process

Since I have achieved the lofty status of being multi-published (tell that to my bank), Sandi suggested I begin by sharing the editing process with you.

Author’s caveat: All my books have been published by Barbour Publishing. There will be some minor differences among publishing houses, but all manuscripts go through a similar process—the author just gets more or less input.

With my first book, Romanian Rhapsody, I thought the editor would tell about any needed changes before I received a contract. When that didn’t happen, I assumed that meant my “baby” was perfect.

So I was caught by surprise when a few months later, I received requested revisions from a copy editor that she needed to have returned within in a few days. I had spent a year writing the book and now I had less than a week to change it. Gasp! Not to mention a request that I delete 3,000 words! (Or was it 300?)

Now as a seasoned veteran, I expect changes and set aside time in my schedule when the publication date approaches.

Steps in the editing process: (These steps aren’t set in stone, but are fluid, and may be called by different names.)

1. The editor receives the author’s manuscript, reviews it, makes comments, and passes it on to a content editor.

2. The content editor adds her comments to the editor’s comments on the overall book: plot development, character development, pacing, dialogue, POV, etc. She returns it to the author for changes. Steps 1-2 are repeated until the author gets it “right.”

3. A line (or copy) editor checks the manuscript for formatting, grammar issues and word usage and returns it to the author for changes. This is the author’s last chance to make major revisions.

4. Once the manuscript has been typeset, the galleys (either hard copy or electronic) are returned to the author for proofreading. Only actual mistakes in the text are corrected in this step.

The author’s response during the editing process can make or break her continued success with the publisher:
Is she flexible enough to accept editorial direction in the manuscript?
Is she able to make the requested changes?
Does she work within the requested turnaround time?
Does she present clean copy, with minimal need for line edits?
Does she request major changes once the galleys have been typeset?

Every manuscript needs the help of a good editor; and I’ve been fortunate to work with some great ones at Barbour.


  1. Thanks for the information. Getting something published is a long drawn out process which I hope to be a part of someday. Now we know some of the reasons it takes so long.

  2. Janet, I didn't mention the time spent on cover design and that whole aspect of th e publishing process (I confess I don't know that time table as well)--the time and process to turn my manuscript into a physical book.

  3. Thanks for sharing this, Darlene. I'm always interested in hearing about the publication process.

  4. Thanks, Darlene! This is great information to have on hand.

  5. Carla, Victoria ... Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!