Hi sweet readers! I thought I'd do a series of posts detailing my experiences taking Publishing 101 via publication of my debut novel.
My goal is to publish a book that is indistinguishable to my readers from any novel from a Big Five publisher. It can be done - in fact, finding such a novel is the one thing that finally got me off my butt and pushed me to self-publish ONE.
Just as a traditionally published book has a huge team of professionals behind it, ONE does as well. My plan is to blog about every step of the process from agent-approved manuscript to published book.
So. It's pretty shocking how few rules of grammar I know.
I'm not kidding. I mean, this manuscript went through three revisions, got polished up to send to editors in big publishing houses, went through intense line edits with Jamie. I was all confident in its perfection when I sent it to my fabulous copyeditor Becca Weston.
This'll be no problem for her, I thought. She'll have it done in no time, because it's so close to perfect.
I was hilarious.
Every page was FILLED with the red of the track-changes path. Seriously. Once there was like half a page with no corrections and I did a little victory dance in my chair.
Here are some of the grammar and formatting issues that were running rampant through my perfectly shiny and polished manuscript before I sent it to my copyeditor:
- Endash vs. Emdash (I didn't even know there was a difference. Truth.)
- lie vs. lay vs. laid (No, I don't really know the difference between all of them. No, I don't think it makes me a bad writer.)
- When to spell out numbers and when to use numerals (Pretty sure I missed this in high school.)
- Caps vs. Italics vs. Caps AND Italics (When it comes to titles and names of buildings? I'm lost on this stuff.)
- who vs. that (At the beginning of a clause. Don't tell me you know without a doubt when one is right.)
Not to mention, she had even MORE line editing suggestions that made the MS even shinier! In addition to eliminating a bunch of run-on sentences and cutting down significantly on the sentences that I had started with "Then," or "And then," she cleaned up a TON. Check it out:
"The sound of a metal stools’ legs scraping against the floor makes me cringe. I whip my head around and that blond boy from the hallway scoots his stool a little closer to my desk.Well, ‘boy’ isn’t an accurate term. It’s even clearer now, without the hustle and confusion of the hallway, and with him sitting right next to me, that he’s a giant."
The sound of metal legs scraping against the floor makes me cringe. I whip my head around, and that blond boy from the hallway scoots his stool a little closer to my desk.Well, “boy” isn’t an accurate term. It’s even clearer now — with him sitting right next to me outside of the hustle and confusion of the hallway — that he’s a giant.
Here's one where Becks eliminated a weird repetition of words (which, duh, how did I NOT think of this:)
I sit there, gnawing on the candy and pretending I don’t notice Mom raising her eyes from the feed. Her eyes are sad.
I sit there, gnawing on the candy and pretending I don’t notice Mom raising her eyes from the feed. She looks sad.
There was also some plain-old ridiculousness in there.
- ONE takes place in the near future, but Becks found references to boom boxes AND drive-in movies in there. Yeesh.
- Elias's house - I described a route for the two of them to take through the halls and rooms that didn't accord with a previous description. Rebecca seemed to have a map of the house in her head, and corrected me.
- Anatomical impossibilities - I don't know why I described Merrin standing this one way I did, but it was literally not possible if she has a normal human anatomy. Which she does.
One last thing: I have a confession. I hadn't read ONE all the way through for a long time until I went through to approve each of Beck's copyedits. It was a good thing I had to, because I fell in love with my characters and story all over again.
To make a long story short, if you are indie publishing, hire a copyeditor. This second round of close edits is super indispensable - even if you think your MS is as shiny as possible already.