Sunday, March 6, 2016

On editing (or why is A Change of Legacies taking so long?)

So a thing I've learned is never to mention an expected publication date for a story. When A Constant Love first came out, A Change of Legacies was "done." I had a whole first draft, and was posting it online to get feedback, and had every expectation of being able to do all of my edits by the end of the year and get it published.

That obviously did not happen, and since said end of the year I've had many readers ask me when it is going to come out. The answer is...I still don't know. So I thought I'd at least explain here why it's been taking so long, and that means explaining a bit more about my editing process.

My first edits for the story were large, macro edits. I read an exceptional book about how childbirth actually went among the British aristocracy, and learned that my prior research had been wrong. This meant that aspects of the preparations for Elizabeth's birth and some other scenes needed to be redone. I also had a lot of feedback on the dream sequences. Some people liked what they did for the story, some didn't like them, and some were confused as to what was happening. I kept them in, but took all of that feedback to heart, and worked on formatting them so it would be more clear, and in trimming all of the fat out of them, so that they read quickly and didn't take the reader out of the main story for as long as they had in the draft. I also took to heart feedback that A Constant Love moved a little slow in the beginning, and trimmed out anything that didn't help move the story along -- this one is already long enough as it is!

These macro edits took quite awhile, and then it was time for the micro edits -- word choice, comma placement, typo fixing, etc., plus any minor incongruities in the story. I had some substantial interruptions in the midst of these -- about a two-week period where I stopped all other work while Temporary Mistress (I'm not estimating a publication date for that one!) ate my brain, the holidays, and putting out Less Proud and More Persuasive. Since the beginning of this year, though, I've been almost wholly focused on A Change of Legacies.

But it takes a long time to go through one edit pass on this story. It's about 190k words long, so notably longer than A Constant Love, and I work during the day, so evenings and weekends are my main time to get to read through it. By the time I get through the whole thing and make corrections, it can take a week and a half to two weeks for one pass.

At this point, some of you may be asking, wait, don't you have an editor to do this for you? And the answer is, no. I've got some help with proofreading, but suffice to say that the economics of JAFF are such that I can't afford an editor. I have worked as an editor in the past, so I have the skills to do this, but it's obviously not ideal to edit one's own work. To work around this, my trick is to read it in as many different formats as possible -- aloud, printed out on paper, and on Kindle in various font sizes. I've caught different things in each of these platforms, so it generally works pretty well.

And this is why I don't know when it will be done. In my last few rounds of edits, I decided to try to use something I'm familiar with from the web industry, and track "defects." I considered a major issue something that would affect readability for almost every reader -- egregious typos, missing words, things like that. A minor issue was one that would impact readability for a fair number of readers -- minor grammatical issues, bad comma placement, etc. And an enhancement was something that just made the prose better, but didn't correct an actual issue -- choosing a different word, or tweaking comma placement where it could have gone another way are two examples. I also tracked formatting issues, but thankfully there haven't been too many of those so far -- that may change as I get into formatting the paperback.

So in my last complete pass, I had 14 major issues, 66 minor ones, and 184 enhancements. It won't be ready for publication until those numbers start to go way down. Yes, I could skip the enhancements, but I do think they make the work better, so I'm not going to. My latest pass -- knock on wood -- seems to be going better. I'm estimating I'm a month or two away from publication, but if I don't make that date, dear readers, know that it's only because I'm trying to make this story as good as I possibly can for you!

Now, I could use a handful of people who are interested in reading through a draft on typo patrol -- there would be nothing required of you but to read either a Kindle copy or a PDF within the next month and let me know if you spot any major typos. If you're interested in this, please email me at sophieturner1805 AT I am going to limit it to a handful, so it will be on a first-emailed, first-served basis.

And I'll leave you all with at least something that shows SOME progress: the working cover for A Change of Legacies.

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