12.2.14 - A Book's Many Steps

So the DH and I have contracted some sort of viral… thing… that is not officially the “Influenza Virus” but is some other sort of flu. I’ve been fighting it since Saturday; he’s almost a week in.  Which means there’s been quite a bit of lying about moaning on couches, tea consumption and lack of general focus. 

Bad timing. My last pass edits for WHAT LIES BEHIND came in on Friday, and were sent off last night with a kiss and a prayer. I spent the whole weekend (minus my shift at Parnassus - that was FUN!) working on them. It’s always nerve-wracking to me, this final step in the process before the book goes into production. 

There are multiple steps in a book’s editorial life. I turn in a manuscript, my editor does a general, or developmental, edit. She gives me notes, and I go through and make changes accordingly. This part of the process can go smoothly (as this did) or it can generate reams of paper. It just depends. Every book is different. 

The next step is the line edit. This is where the editor goes through line by line, making sure things make sense, typos are caught, and things are consistent. She send me the marked up manuscript, and I too go through line by line, addressing any issues that have cropped up.

And then it’s on to the copyedit. The book is generally typeset at this stage — though with the advent of technology, that seems to happen much earlier in the process. I plow through the copyedits — cringing at my apparent lack of knowledge when it comes to grammar and punctuation — fix discrepancies caused by cross-cultural language barriers, and otherwise polish, polish, polish. 

Then we go to AAs, author alterations, which is the final step in the process. The manuscript is as clean as we can make it. This is my last chance to make changes, substantial or otherwise.

This is the step that takes the longest for me, because I read every single word. I don’t gloss over lines, I don’t allow my brain to trick me into seeing things as I know it should be rather than what it is. Some authors read theirs aloud, some read backward. I just take a long, leisurely stroll through the book, paying special attention to the story, the dialog, looking for repetitions, all that stuff.

I found several errors, and one whopping inconsistency we all missed. Errors tend to creep in during the previous three stages; this is why I take my time and read thoroughly. Hopefully I’ve caught them all. 

Now the book goes to proofreaders for one last look, and then it’s off to the printers.

There will be errors. There always are. Even with all these steps, all these reads (the post-finished count is five - that doesn’t count the hundreds of reads it got while I was writing) typos silently set-up warrens, and breed. Like rabbits. Drives us all mad.  

But I'll tell you, I like this book. Probably the kiss of death review wise, but I think it's solid and exciting, and Sam really shines. It's a fun one.

And, I got my final cover today. I can’t share it yet, but I’ll give you a hint… it’s one of my all-time favorites. I had that ZING of delight when I saw the concept, and the final version is simply gorgeous. 

So that’s what I’ve been up to. Tomorrow, the brain turns at last to uninterrupted writing time on Nicholas #3. We have a title for it, at last. I’ll wait for Catherine to announce it, then I’ll share : )

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J.T. Ellison

J.T. Ellison is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of fifteen critically acclaimed thrillers and is the co-author of the Nicholas Drummond series with #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter. With over a million books in print, Ellison’s work has been published in twenty-five countries and thirteen languages. She is also the co-host of A Word on Words, Nashville's premier literary TV series, which airs on Nashville Public Television. She lives with her husband and twin kittens in Nashville. Visit JTEllison.com, and follow her on Twitter @Thrillerchick or at Facebook.com/JTEllison14.