Line Edits, Book Covers, and What Really Scares Me

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In late November I submitted the first round of content edits back to my editor. It was a grueling month in which I added nearly 8,000 words to a manuscript I had once considered complete. Boy, was I mistaken. Gory details here.

Two months passed. In December it was easy not to look at the manuscript. I would have preferred reading an automotive repair manual. But by mid-January, I was itching to dive back into the book to see how my new scenes meshed. I worried they were terrible—first draft stuff and all that. I couldn’t open the manuscript, however, because of course I would have started editing it—a wasted effort if the new scenes weren’t approved. So I waited.

And then I got an email that sent me over the moon: my editor loved the new scenes. So much that we had skipped the second part of a three-part editing process and moved straight into line edits; she was working on those now.

I whooped! I cheered! And then I immediately began to worry about the line edits. Would she tear apart my sentence structure? Would every page be marked with Track Changes? Would she suddenly realize she was working with a fraud who somehow managed to get this far calling herself a writer?

Luckily, none of the above applied. Aside from a horrifying display of poor comma usage, the manuscript was pretty clean. The areas that needed the most work were easily fixed by deleting whole paragraphs of description—which isn’t as hard as it sounds when you’ve read those paragraphs forty-eight times. And when a reader, my editor in this case, says, “This part’s kind of boring,” I believe her. I have to. I’m not taking any chances.

No writer can please everyone—there will be some people who don’t like my writing style, and some who don’t like the main character; there will be many who don’t like the ending, and that’s fine. The only thing that really scares me is boring a reader.

So after chopping some sections, fixing awkward phrases, clarifying a few issues, and getting schooled in comma splices, I returned the line edits and am now waiting for a final proof. Discussion over the cover has ensued (and because I’m with a small press, my opinion matters), and there is a chance that my original title, The Fourth Wall, will stand. Wish me luck on that one, will you? I’m a bit attached to it.


  1. 🙂

  2. This is so interesting, Elizabeth! I did all this myself (next time I would hire a copy editor but I still trust my developmental editing) so it’s interesting to hear a different view. When I was doing this to my book I also lost view of it, got a bit myopic with it, and got tremendously sick of it! All worth it in the end!

  3. Have I told you lately how very proud I am of you and absolutely love the woman you have become? It’s true. I’ve watched you become a butterfly and your wings are gorgeous!