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What the First Edit Looks Like

I always was curious what happened once a publisher picked up a book. Although my classes at Taylor gave me somewhat of an idea, I'd never experienced it myself.

Until this last week.

For those who have not had a book go through the traditional publishing process, here's a look at the three edits a book will experience.

Big Picture/Content

The first edit usually involves looking for holes in that plot. And does that character really contribute anything to this story; can we cut him? And why did you leave that character trapped in a closet even after you resolved the story arc?

Medium Picture/Copy Editing

This includes punctuation, grammar, and spelling errors. It can also include the editor researching and fact-checking to make sure you committed no factual errors.

Small Picture/Proofreading

This is usually a last-minute check to make sure punctuation and other minute issues (widows and orphans) are fixed.

Some publishing houses draw out some of these into more than one step. Some puzzle piece two together. Lighthouse, for my first edit, combined the first two steps.

What it was like:

Painful at first. My editor did extensive edits in the first three chapters (the most important three). The number of comment bubbles on the word doc turned the screen more orange than white ... all right, a bit of an exaggeration.

But then, after the first three chapters, I found myself appreciating the time the editor had put into the manuscript. She caught inconsistencies in dates and times and helped me whenever I slipped out of the correct point of view. Some pages had ten comments, yes. Others, none.

Some chapters were harder to get through than others because certain comments required backtracking and blowing up entire sections. However, I am so grateful Lighthouse gave me an editor who wanted to stay true to the characters' motivations and to the plot.

My least favorite part of any book writing process comes with critique. Yet even when slogging through some difficult edits, I still wanted to thank the editor profusely for her time.

For those who will go through their first edit, know this:

It won't be as bad as you expect. It takes a few moments to overcome the shock of the number of comments you see in the doc, but once your heart starts beating at a normal rate, you'll realize the changes will go a lot faster than you anticipate.

And remember, editors want to help present your book in the best way possible to the reader. Even if you have to slaughter a few darlings, it'll be worth it. It promise.

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