Crafting a Book: Editing!

colorful erasers

First, I hope all of you who celebrate holidays in winter had lovely, wonderful times. (And for you who don’t but still have kids, I hope you survived winter break :) Ours was extended an extra week due to weather, and the kids were I was so happy for school to start up again!)

The kids’ winter vacation didn’t mean my husband and I didn’t have to work, although things turned out such that everyone got plenty of relaxation. My husband and I are both lucky enough to rabidly enjoy our jobs, so “working from home while the kids play in the background” counts as vacation for us. And vacation/work I did, as I’ve been corresponding with my developmental and technical editors since early November. I thought you might enjoy hearing a little bit about the process.

The first editor that I worked with, as a Stash author, was my Developmental Editor. That’s a totally appropriate title for this editor, as they work on the entire development of the manuscript (MS). If that seems a little hazy, though, my experience has been that the Developmental Editor oversees the entire editing process, but focuses specifically on the general flow and readability of the MS. I had the good fortune to have two Developmental Editors look at my MS–Michele Fry and Karla Menaugh. (Karla‘s releasing her own book, authored with fabulous Barbara Brackman, this summer. And it’s about appliqué! I, for one, can’t wait to read it!)

My process working with Michele and Karla dealt with the book the way a reader would if they were giving it a first glance. They made sure my text made sense and was readable, and gave a first look at the logic of the instructional parts. I answered a lot of questions via email, looked over and responded to comments on a draft (essentially the whole draft, all at once), and answered more questions via email. Stash has a great, albeit detailed, system for dealing with drafts being passed between editors and authors. Essentially, each person dealing with the MS uses a differently colored text to write comments, questions, and answers to one another within the word processing document. This allowed me, Karla, and Michele to have a dialogue (trilogue?) with one another without having to write everything out in an email and then transpose it to the MS text. I felt so supported and lucky at this juncture to have a couple extra pairs of eyes on my prose, making sure it read as well as possible!

After my MS passed the developmental editing phase, it went to my Technical Editor, Alison Schmidt. The Technical Editor’s job is to make sure that the instructions are easy to follow and that any measurements/materials requirements are sufficient to complete the corresponding project. This is exactly the kind of thing I don’t excel at, so I’ve been relieved through this entire process that I would have another person helping make sure everything was perfect. Alison has more than fulfilled that expectation. She’s proofed my materials lists, re-read and offered suggestions on my instructions, and even brought to my attention disparities between my templates and the finished projects. I’ll say it now–I have never been particularly good at measurements. This is one of the reasons applique suits me so well–I can just make a drawing and transfer it to a quilt top without needing to do any math. (Not that math and measuring are a problem when I need to do them, but I’m much happier if and when I don’t.) So in other words, Alison has been a godsend.

One of the things that Alison and I have worked on together has been making sure that the how-to portions of the book give clear and consistent instructions for completing the projects and using the techniques. This included working together to create new and additional step-outs for photographing the “How-to” sections of the book. This was no trouble, but I didn’t necessarily expect to be making additional step-outs after I’d submitted my package (so this is a heads up for any of you soon-to-be-published readers out there–build a little make-up time into your post-package schedule). Alison and my how-to photographer, Diane Pederson, did the photo shoot for all of the how-to photos earlier this week, and I heard it went really well. I’m excited to see what they did with all of those step-outs I made!

I won’t lie and say that reading over one’s MS a million times is particularly entertaining, although I’ll tell the truth and say that seeing someone else’s response to one’s writing is always exciting. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to seeing some imagery and layout to accompany my words in the next couple passes of the MS between me and my team at Stash. That said, I’m always amazed at how many issues come out of having someone else read and ask questions in response to one’s writing. Sometimes it’s so much easier to clearly answer a question (“How would you explain doing this if you were talking to me?”) than it is to try and explain it to yourself (because *you* already know how to do it!)

So that’s the status of the book to date. I’m still having a ton of fun working on it, and I can’t wait to see what the Production Editor and Designers do with it in the coming months! I hope you’ve found this peek behind the editing scenes interesting. Thanks again for reading!

4 thoughts on “Crafting a Book: Editing!

  1. Enlightening! So many people and phases on publishing a book. Who knew? Thank you for taking us behind the scenes….

  2. Karla is my editor too — love her! I feel the same way about instructional writing. It’s just not my favorite part of the process. Getting that information out of my head and onto the page in a way that’s going to help them see the same picture I’m seeing is not an easy thing!

  3. Pingback: Crafting a Book: The Publisher’s Viewpoint |

  4. Pingback: Crafting a Book: Compilation Books |

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