Your final edit is the most important one of all. I hope you’ve read my earlier post about editing and re-editing, as this is a follow-up. I stressed how important it is for an indie author to have a good editor. An excellent article on the subject can be found at theworldsgreatestbook.com (bit.lyU8QNDK).
I found a lovely way to accomplish my final edit of Turn on No-Bridge Road. I took a break from everyday life by leaving my home base to immerse myself in the task. Together with my friend and editor, we spent a week at Nags Head on the North Carolina coast with two print copies of the novel. It was partly sunny but very windy the first couple of days so it wasn’t difficult to content ourselves with views of the ocean from our windows. Later we got in some early morning walks on the beach and spent time on the deck.
The first two and a half days were devoted to re-reading my 300+ page novel. Because we were both there, both doing the same thing at the same time, we could compare thoughts, ask questions, discuss points of difference as we went along. It was tiring but it worked like a charm. I don’t remember at what point she gazed at the stacks of pages in front of each of us and said, “How are you going to do this? You have over 600 pages to search through for corrections!” I’m usually an optimist about things like that, but I had to admit it looked mighty daunting. Of course, there were many, many pages with no changes, but I would nonetheless have to check each one as I assumed this would be my final edit. (actually, I gave the entire book one more read after returning home, and changed a few more things!)
Day three. My laptop on the table, I began to enter corrections. Very few typos, as spellcheck, desktop dictionary and thesaurus make the process so much easier, but there were sequences of rewrite and I can’t do that without new ideas coming to mind. And that takes thought and time. While I was busy with this for two days (and some nighttime hours) my friend did research on marketing resources, edited my author bio and cover copy, and made a list of keywords for me. Then she was free to work on one of her other projects while I soldiered on slowly page after page. I must say I gave a huge sigh of relief when I finished. We then had a day to work together on the back cover text. Believe me, we spent hours on that, going back and forth, and I’m still fiddling with it. At any rate, I now have a perfectly formatted and edited novel and I’m ready to tackle cover design, final cover copy, wording of my bio, and what on earth to do about promoting sales!
I’ve given quite a bit of thought to how it would be if I weren’t self-publishing. I wouldn’t be free to choose my editor and things such as cover art, the fonts, the formatting. Sometimes even the content is questioned by a publisher. I don’t think I’d like it at all. A long time ago I had an opportunity to publish The Sound of Caissons at Bantam Books if I would make certain changes. It was after two attempts, and during our third phone conversation that I finally realized what they really wanted—they wanted me to make my story adhere more closely to their hugely popular line of romance novels. It only took me a moment before I said something like, “No thanks, this is my book and although it has romance in it, it’s never going to fit into your ‘romance novel’ niche.” Now that I’ve actually published this story of a mid-twentieth-century Army family, I am very happy I was wise enough to say no, this is my book. My husband thought I was crazy, but then it wasn’t his book either.
So perhaps you can understand how pleased I am to be able to work with an editor of my choosing, who also just happens to be my friend. I’m hoping we can settle on the fee and she agrees to edit and help with my fourth novel, Timothy Darling & The Girl in the Sailboat, a sequel to No-Bridge Road. We may not be able to go away for a week for the final edit, but I have a plan that will allow us to do almost the same thing right here at home. That would be to set aside 4-5 afternoons in a row when we will sit across a table from each other and accomplish the final edit, one-on-one, just like we did on those productive lovely October days at Nags Head.
As always, I welcome your comments on this or past blogs. My next post will cover the process of planning the art, wording, and design of the cover. Watch for it.