Thank you for inviting me to be a guest…a month ago! But I’m finally here and it’s a pleasure to chat. I was a lurker earlier in January when Wanda was visiting, and there’s no better advice, I think, than to ignore the laundry. (I suspect she didn’t mean for months at a time, though, drat.)
Wanda also touched on what we’re looking for in acquiring books, along with the wonderful news that we’re going up in word count. So instead, I thought I’d share insight into the first half of my month…not “a day in the life of” because very little gets started and finished in one day…but more of an overview of the kind of projects I’m sure every editor has to juggle at different stages of production—and deadline.
I came back from Christmas refreshed, having even managed to read a non-romance book for a change (Emma Donoghue’s Room—amazing). In the quiet of our still half-empty Toronto offices, I shut my door and finished a line edit I’d been desperate to submit to Ingrid, our copy manager, before Christmas…due Dec. 23. I made copies of it (one for me, one for the author) and finally got the master to Ingrid’s In Box. Considering I’d submitted another July 2011 line edit a week early, I figure the late one evens out the score. (Not sure how Ingrid feels about that….)
After taking care of the outstanding line edit—and still waiting for my two authors with books in the following month to submit the revisions they were working on over Christmas (not my fault!) so I could line edit toward the Jan. 20 deadline—I had planned to catch up on my slush reading. I’ve been working with several unpublished authors on unsolicited manuscripts for Superromance and have been anxious to get to two revisions I’d requested. Unfortunately, they got put on hold again because of contracted stories—these ones on a different pile on a different shelf of my bookcase.
One of my authors is in the middle of a trilogy and needed feedback on the first full and the second book’s partial as she kept writing. My input would come too late to affect much change to the second book, since the author was nearly finished it, so I spent a day reading both projects to make sure the connecting story arc is strong and that no changes to the first book will affect the others. I contacted the author to give her my immediate thoughts (strong arc, strong second story opening, first story will need revision to convey the connecting story more actively, more gradually—a common challenge with connected books, the dreaded info dump!) and to reassure her that none of the notes I’m going to e-mail her should affect the individual stories. Then I made all kinds of vows to myself—and her—that I will follow up with my notes today/tomorrow/next week….
Because of a shortened week, not a whole lot more got accomplished, except for submitting a deflag to Ingrid. A deflag is what we call the stage of production where the master copy with the editor’s line edits comes back from copy editing, at about the same time as the author emails her feedback on the line edits. At deflag, the editor goes through the master to address the copy editor’s flagged queries and also writes in the author’s changes.
In the midst of deflagging and reading and revising, I spent a couple of days packing up my office because I’m downsizing to a room with a window, if not a view. I’ll miss Executive Editor Paula Eykelhof, who has been across from me for more than seven years, but I gain one of the colder spots in the building—yes!
In the chaos of boxes, I made an author’s final changes to a set of AAs (“author alterations”, author’s last chance to catch errors…but not to panic, proofreading still has another read). Then Wanda and I did some last-minute brainstorming on titles for two books whose existing ones wouldn’t fly for various reasons.
Good news/bad news: one of the two revisions I’ve been expecting came in! To get the two line edits done in time, I need to start work immediately. It takes me at least two solid days to edit a book, and there is never a solid day, what with vision team meetings to create effective covers, title brainstorming, packaging books off to freelance copywriters and then editing the books’ preliminary matter (cover copy and authors’ acknowledgments, etc.) and tracking all the stages of my authors’ works, not to mention acquiring fresh, new authors’ stories through judging contests and reading submissions.
Which brings me back to the unsolicited manuscripts waiting far too long in the queue. If reading a promising new work means a late edit down the line, then that’s a call I had to make. And more good news/bad news: one of the slush proposals is a compelling story that could really fit in Superromance—I’m just not 100% convinced the author has a grasp of the romantic tension we need, the kind that comes out of specific, high-stakes risk (what huge thing does the hero/heroine risk losing if they loved the other character…too often in romances, one of the pair knows something the other doesn’t and the obstacle doesn’t play out actively until the secret is revealed). So I’ve asked Wanda for a second read, which is actually a fifth read at this point. And maybe all the work the author’s put into this story will result in a contract.
So does it come as a surprise to anyone that I got one of my two January line edits in on deadline and I’m still working on the second one? Onward and upward, as my father used to say!