Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Road to Publication: Part Six

Sinuses, man. ANYWAY.

[This is part 6 of a summary of Spookygirl’s journey toward publication. Use the Progress tag to access all related entries.] 

One thing I quickly learned about editing: Every time you think you’re done, there’ll be one more suggestion to act on, one more alternative to consider, one more change to okay.

After working with Julie Strauss-Gabel on the initial major revision of Spookygirl, I worked with Liza Kaplan to clean up the details and get things polished. After a few more minor revisions (mostly involving the locker room storyline), we moved on to the line edit.

I had no idea what to expect from that, but the process was kind of fascinating. After Liza sent me a copy of the manuscript with lots and lots of notations about minor changes and small suggestions (usually several per page), I quickly learned how to use the Track Changes feature in Word. I approved, declined, or acted on each detail as necessary. Most pages weren't nearly as marked up as that screencap up there, but that gives you an idea of the process. Every change -- even the addition of a comma or the correction of a spelling error -- got its own notation.

So we got through all that. Then we did it all again. Oh yes.

Then came the copyedit (done by Rosanne Lauer), which was essentially more of the same, only on an even more detail-oriented level.

You know how, if you repeat a word over and over, eventually it sounds like nonsense in your head? Imagine going through your entire manuscript over and over until your story feels just like that.

Again, everything we did made the final story stronger, and that’s a great thing to realize. The only times Liza and I butted heads were over tiny things like keeping a line about a character's t-shirt, or whether Dutton's preferred style guide required us to spell out longer numbers in dialogue.

(Oh, that t-shirt. That could be another blog entry all on its own. I wasn't about to lose Peter's favorite geeky tee.)

Up next: Dedication, acknowledgments, author photo.


  1. Hi Jill,

    Congrats on winning last year's YA ABNA and thanks so much for posting all this. It's offering everyone a great "insider's view." Having made it through ABNA's GF first round this year, I can only hope to be in your shoes a year or so from now.

    And I'm AMAZED by the amount of extensive edits you went through--and this was after you'd won the YA category. I have to ask--were you even suprised by the amount of edits (both story and line) you had to make?

    Thanks again for sharing,


    1. Thanks, Kevin! Best of luck this year.

      I wasn't surprised at all. Honestly, before things got started I expected I'd be asked to change more. Julie @ Dutton was obviously very enthusiastic about Spookygirl's strengths, so I always felt like her suggestions came from wanting to make a good project even better. I don't mean to make it sound like all I got was negative/constructive feedback -- I've also heard a lot of positives along the way.

      The line edit was a little overwhelming at first, only because I was learning the process as I went.

    2. Thanks for the clarification. I guess it was more of a case of making something good even better vs. fixing something that was "wrong." So it seems (to me, at least) like they really look for the potential behind something and just build on that.

      I'd love to hear about any other insights you've gleaned from this wonderful process. Something you never expected to see or hear during your publishing experience.

      And another question--have you signed on with an agency since winning?

      Hope you don't mind if we all just vicariously live through you for a little while longer...

    3. I have indeed signed with an agency -- I'm represented by Danielle Chiotti of Upstart Crow. I'll go into more detail on how that came to be in another post soon.