Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Copy Editing

Over the weekend, I did the copy edits for Violet Dawn. Took the better part of two days, which meant I didn’t get much of a break this weekend. But I am so thankful to have a very good, very hard copyeditor.

Copyediting is stage four for Violet Dawn. In another post I’ll go into specifics of some of the copyedit issues within the manuscript (as much as I can without giving away any plot point). For today, here’s a recap of stages each of my books goes through, and the general timeline for those stages.

Stage 1: Write draft of story. Definitely the hardest part. Takes about 3 months. (Longer if I manage to waste a lot of time in the beginning, which I’m prone to do.) Violet Dawn was written in April, May, June and first half of August in 2005. Deadline 8/15/05. (I can’t write in July due to all the traveling and conferences in that month.)

Stage 2: Rewrite, based on macro editing feedback. Takes 1-2 weeks of intense work. In previous posts I gave you all an inside look at the macro edit to Violet Dawn. (Starting 11/2/05). This is the edit dealing with the large, overall picture of the novel—characterization, story structure issues, etc. When a novelist speaks of “my editor,” he/she is generally referring to the macro editor, who does so much to help shape the story. I received the macro edit letter toward the end of October and sent off the rewrite on Friday, 11/4. Violet Dawn’s rewrite took 1 week.

Stage 3: Track changes. Takes 1 full day. These are sentence-by-sentence changes, still working with the macro editor, using the track changes option in Word. Typically these come about a month after the rewrite is sent in. Violet Dawn tracks changes were sent back to the editor on December 4.

Stage 4: Copy edits. Takes 1-2 days. After track changes the book leaves the macro editor’s hands and goes to the copy editor. This is a different breed. Whereas the macro editor looks at the large picture, the copyeditor looks for tiny details, down to the use of a word. Violet Dawn copy edits were received 1/27/06. They are due back at Zondervan headquarters this Friday, 2/10. I let them sit on my desk for a week before getting to them this past weekend. (With my regular page count for book #2 in the series needing to be done during the week, I knew the copyedits would have to be done on a Sat./Sun.) Copyedits are done on hard copy, not on the computer, so the changes must be snail mailed back to Zondervan. The edited manuscript was dropped off to be Xeroxed yesterday (lest the mailed copy gets lost along the way, egad!), and today it will be taken to the post office.

Stage 5: Proofing. Takes a full, long day. After copy edit changes, the book goes to yet another person (usually more than one) who proofreads. Proofreaders do not suggest any changes. Their job is to find typos. The manuscript is sent to me for proofreading also. The only good way to proofread is syllable by syllable, punctuation point by punctuation point. I’m not supposed to edit at this stage either, but I am allowed a few changes if I really must make them. However at this point the book is in galley form—that is, the type appears as it will on book pages, with the layout design in place. So we’re talking small changes only, like the use of a word. Proofing usually comes about a month after I send back the copy edits, so I’ll receive them around mid March.

Meanwhile, before proofing is done, the manuscript in its designed form is sent to the printer for printing ARCs (advanced readers copies) and galleys (bound manuscript pages). This is why ARCs and galleys carry the disclaimer that proofing has not yet been done, and that quoting from the ARC should not be done without checking it against final copy. The publisher needs ARCs and galleys for early marketing and to send to reviewers. Zondervan has promised me ARCs of Violet Dawn by May 1 because I need them in my own marketing campaign (to be announced in the future on this blog.)

Violet Dawn will be released in August, making it a September publication. (Meaning that by September most stores should have received their shipments and have it on shelves.)

And that’s why it takes a year from turning in the manuscript to publication.

When we return to this subject—an inside look at some of the copy editing for Violet Dawn.


Camy Tang said...

Wow, this is neat! Thanks, Brandilyn! The way everything was broken down in a real timeline was especially helpful, because it's not only what the different editing steps are, but also the amount of time they give you to go over the edits and when you turn them in.


C.J. Darlington said...

I really appreciate knowing the inside scoop on what goes on with a book after you type the last word. It's also interesting to hear that the ARC's are bound BEFORE the proofing. I've read some ARC's that have had glaring typos and wondered about that.

D. Gudger said...

It helps to know that an author's work is not done when the manuscript is accepted - that there is a lot of hard work in a multi-level editing process. Thanks for using a real example and making it understandable :)

Dineen A. Miller said...

Ah, so somewhere between Track Edits and Copy Edits, the type gets laid out and you don't get to edit a computer file anymore? That's interesting. I thought it happened later than that. So you wind up with a file different than the finished book, unless you add the changes.

Unless I'm misunderstanding this, of course! LOL! The graphic design side of my brain is fascinated with this process. I wish I could see a book being laid out. :-)

Bonnie S. Calhoun said...

I agree with all the aboce comments, and I'm amazed at all the people involved in publishing a manuscript!

Lynette Sowell said...

Wow, that almost makes my brain hurt. I wonder if it is easier to edit a book once you're pouring yourself into another one. Is the emotional attachment there, just like when you're going through it the first time?

Illuminating Fiction said...

Thanks for the in-house editing breakdown, Brandilyn. It's great to know what goes on between the time a contract is signed and the book appears on the shelf.

ARC's always contain the warning that it is an unproofed edition. Problem is, I've noticed a lot of final editions with the same mistakes in them as in the ARC's.