Samhain Publishing is celebrating their 10th Anniversary and as a new author I wanted to join in the fun by sharing my first ever edit experience.
My initial contact with Samhain Publishing editor, Noah Chinn, was by email when he notified me of his interest in my debut novel, STILL LIFE. What an incredible feeling it was to have someone recognize the voice within my writing. I’ll admit I tried to play it cool as I waited for my contract but ended up hounding him for the paperwork. My biggest fear was that I wouldn’t get a chance to sign it before he’d change his mind.
Once signed, it was just a matter of waiting for my manuscript to get to the top of Noah’s schedule. In the meantime he suggested specific reading/notes to prep for the upcoming edit, which filled my time. This educational material was helpful, but suffice it to say…nothing could have prepared me for the first round of edits.
The day had finally come when my baby, STILL LIFE—the result of so much of my time and effort—was about to be made, perfect. However, before sending me his edit notes Noah instructed me not to panic.
What the hell? What did he mean don’t panic?
Anxious to get going I blindly promised I wouldn’t.
What follows is a paraphrased version of the conversation that Saturday, which I kept for posterity. (For those who know him, note Noah’s signature green font 🙂 )
Noah: “ How’s it going? You might feel overwhelmed with the edits you see, as well as all the feedback I’ve given. Don’t worry. But feel free to contact me as you go through it. My door’s always open :)”
Me: “I find it easier to go through simple deletes and changes first, kind of clearing the crap so to speak, then I’ll go back over your more detailed comments and take my time. I want this to be a learning experience after all.” (Note my naïve enthusiasm)
Noah: “So, what do you think of the editing suggestions so far, and the process we’re using together? Feel free to ask me anything along the way.”
Me: “It’s going great. I think our left/right brain thing is compatible. Enjoy the suggestions and changes. Nice to know I’m on track.”
Me: “I will admit seeing the solid color (multitude of stacked comment bubbles) has me freaked out.”
Noah: “Yes, I can imagine it seemed intimidating at first, but I can already see from your pruning down of the easy stuff that what you’ll be left with is going to be easy enough to handle. Have fun! This stage of the editing process is fun, in my opinion, because you can feel the story get stronger and more cohesive as a result. It’s when you’re beating yourself up over commas and that one word that just doesn’t feel right no how matter how you play with it that it can get frustrating ;)”
I was drowning myself in microbrews from the back of the fridge with my hubby in the background urging me to contact Noah every time I started a fresh round of sobs and cracked a new bottle open. Somewhere around 8:30 pm I finally took his advise and emailed Noah.
Me: “Hit a low point today. 😦 Editing has been painful and mortifying. Feeling like a fraud. I had no idea the story was this ridiculous. I know I can correct some problems easily. Others, I’m not so sure. What I need to know is how much turn around time do I have for revision?”
Noah: “We’ve got time. Don’t worry. The story is there. I wouldn’t have accepted it if it wasn’t! Relax. You’re no fraud. That’s why we go through this a couple of times before the Final Line Edit. The story isn’t ridiculous, it’s fun. Embracing the humor will allow a lot of things to slide that might otherwise be scrutinized to death if it was meant to be a more serious deadpan novel. Again. Relax. You’re going to do fine :)”
The next day…
Me: “I’m feeling better today. I freaked out. Sorry about that. Got my big girl panties on now and am dealing with issues one at a time. Thanks for propping me up. (Several beers didn’t hurt either).”
Noah: “This comic pretty much sums up the process for ALL of us writers ;)”
Thank you, Noah Chinn, editor extraordinaire and word slayer, for keeping me sane and educating me in the process.
Happy Anniversary, Samhain!!
Check out the 20% off sale on ebooks site wide until November 15th. #Samhain10