The line editing

Insights gained from the line editing process

I already wrote about the editing here, line editing is one of the possible option to improve a manuscript. There are indeed different types of editing. For my book, I decided to go through a structural editing first and then a line editing (or copy editing, how it is called in this article)

Middle of January I received the manuscript back after line editing.

Very naively, I scheduled to revise the correction within a week, and planned to start sending queries to agents at the end of January. Little did I know that I set up myself for failure with this plan. Here are the lessons I learned.

First lesson: always work with a clean manuscript! It means accepting all changes before moving to a new revision phase with a new set of track changes.

I opened the document and in the first place I was overwhelmed by the track changes, which made the manuscript look like a mess, underlined, stroke through text floating all over in different colours, old and new comments mixing up.

Second lesson: schedule sufficient time to go through all comments and revisions.

The comments and corrections were not critical, but they did require more attention that I thought. After all, I did not have the book under my eyes for a few weeks and I needed to get into the story again to agree or reject a suggested change.

Third lesson: do not accept automatically all changes, as the line editing as author. You are the one deciding what works for your story and what not.

At the beginning, I went through all comments, and accepted all changes which looked more technical. But I realised that sometimes even what looks like a minor change does not work. So, I went back to the version received from the editor and started all over again. All comments I received were valuable; still, I did not always agree on the suggested changes, either because it did not fit the story or the character, or because I felt it flattened my style.

Fourth lesson: it is not finished, until it is finished. Keep the focus until the manuscript is fully ready for submission.

A couple of psychological issues caused my revision to go slower than it could have been.

I would call the first the 5% hurdle. In Germany and in Italy this term refers to the percentage of votes which a party needs to get to enter the  government; for small parties this can be a huge challenge and I feel exactly the same with my book.

In my mind the book was 95% finished, and my brain archived the whole thing in the ‘as good as done’ file. The ball was at my editor’s side and I thought that, click, click, click, I would easily and quickly end the process. When I realised that it was not the case, it took me much more energy to convince myself to sit down and do the work properly. My brain was saying ‘what the heck, weren’t we finished with that? Come on, hurry up and move on with the next project‘ and I had to gather all reasons why it was necessary for me to still go through all comments as diligently as I worked through the first round of comments after the structural editing.

Thus, organizing and planning as well as managing your mind are the most important skills you need to go through this process swiftly and successfully.

Next time I will tell you about the second psychological which hindered this process.

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