Wednesday, October 28, 2009

HBVK update: the editing process

One of my goals with this blog was to, without bogging people down too much with process, try to convey some of my experiences as a guy who wrote a book, found someone who liked it enough to think they could make money on it, and later bought a sprawling estate in some exotic locale like the Atchafalaya River Basin where I could have an English butler and a security consultant with a big awesome mustache. I skipped a few steps in there.

Anyway, right now I'm working on edits for the book. I figure I can talk about this since HBVK is still mostly unofficial, none of the other people involved but me have been announced yet, let alone a street date. So I don't think it gives anything away to say that right now I'm going through a thing I knew I'd run into, read about in other books or blogs in the "so you want to be a published writer" genre, but didn't completely grasp: the editing process.

Here's how it works. You submit your manuscript. Whoever is in charge of finding new material will email you back and say something like "this is amazing, here's a check delivered by a talking gecko" or something like that. If that didn't happen, go back to step one. Anyway, so you got your big check and rapped with the gecko for a while about digestive biscuits and soccer and then you get another email - it's from your editor.

Your editor is kind of like the Murtaugh to your Riggs. You pull crazy stunts in your manuscript, maybe you spliced in a page of your own hand-drawn cartoon art, maybe you switch perspectives several times within the same chapter, maybe you made Hitler your main character. Your editor is there to tell you two things:

1. Your book is fantastic and he is lucky to be working on it and hopes you have a long career ahead of you.

2. Your book is made of fail (it didn't help you actually used the phrase "made of fail/win" in it) and now you are going to have to fix it if you ever want to work in this town again.
The two ideas aren't necessarily incompatible, though you might think so at first. Detective Murtagh just looks at you and says to himself, "with me riding herd, this guy could be a good cop. And I'm too old for this shit." You probably did write an awesome book, that's why the shot-caller gave you the nod and now you're going through this.

But it's the editor's job to worry about the details. Continutity, timelines, akward phrasings, even missed opportunities and plot holes. Your editor sees the potential in what you wrote - and with just a few fixes, it will be even better.

Put it this way - if your book was good enough that you're doing this now, by the time you're done, women will be throwing their underwear at you during book signings, and handsome, wealthy Swiss men will hit on you at the con bar. I think I covered everyone there.

Anyway, those are my impressions so far. I'll try to keep you guys updated once or twice during the process, though I don't think it'll go on too long.

One great thing about editing - I'm doing more blogging. Heh.

Okay, a big spear with some kinda parrot feather on it just took out my window and landed in the carpet. No note but I don't think I need one ... I hear the distant sound of drums ... gotta go.

1 comment:

  1. I was gonna ride shotgun on this one, but your publisher thought someone with more finesse would be a better fit. I'll get you some day, Gavin. Me and my red pen.

    Seriously, though, it's very true that editors only want to work with good writers and the fact that you got this far means you're a good writer. It's said often because it's a fact - you can't polish a turd. So hang your hat on that.