Thursday, December 06, 2007



Now that you’ve got the deal, you should be able to relax and just wait to see your book in the book stores! Unfortunately, not quite. This is where the second part of the major re-writing begins, the editorial process. This is when your publisher takes what you are convinced is a completed manuscript and starts shaping it according to their vision of what will make it more marketable for their readers.

Editors usually have very specific ideas of the types of books that will sell to their readership. Clearly they believe that your book is one of those, otherwise they wouldn’t have given you a book deal. But often much to the chagrin of the author, this doesn’t preclude often extensive editorial changes. In many cases this is helpful and in fact does make the book better, in other cases, the author feels as if their work is being compromised by an overly aggressive “red pen.” My feelings on the editorial process are to assume that the comments are given with the desire to make the manuscript as good as it can be, but by the same token, to decide what you will agree to and what you cannot. It’s usually a balancing process where you have to compromise but where you also must determine which comments, if any, go to the heart of your book, and if accepted could severely compromise your vision.

Usually you will go through several rounds of editorial comments before your book is completed and ready for the copy editors. Copy editing is a critical part of the editorial process and ensures that your book has all of the proper grammatical and other editing and stylistic changes. Often, with a smaller press the author does essentially a lot of the copy editing, but it is preferable to have it professionally done. It’s very difficult to copy edit your own work because you are so close to it. Overall the editorial process can be gratifying as you see your book shaped into something even greater than you had imagined or frustrating as you see your vision chipped away, but either way it is a critical part of getting your book out there.

Next week we’ll talk about marketing your book and some of the things that authors can do to get the widest possible audience. For more information on my book A DEAD MAN SPEAKS, check out my website, or you can email me at


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