The next in my short series of people who have worked with me in the past few years continues with Sue Layborne – editor extraordinaire.
In which she gives away all my secrets 😉
You can find out more about her services here: No Stone Unturned Editing
From Sue Laybourn:
One of the best things about being an editor is that I get my hands on a book by a favorite author as soon as it’s done. A new RJ manuscript is always something I look forward to. I know that the story will be full of humor, warmth, and probably a few tears. Not tear-my-hair-out-oh-my-God-why-did-she-write-such-a-mess tears, but proper hit-me-right-in-the-feels tears. I thought I’d give a little insight into the editing process I have with RJ. We’ve been working together for two and a half years now, give or take one or two manuscripts I’ve edited for her before that. I’ve just counted, and bloody hell, I’ve edited thirty-five RJ Scott books, that also includes many of the hockey stories co-written with Vicki Locey. That’s a lot. I had no idea!
So, how does it work? First, RJ will let me know that she should have a manuscript ready by such and such a week/month. If that timetable slips, she always lets me know, so I can jiggle my schedule around. Then the manuscript arrives. I make sure my vape is fired up and I have plenty of coffee, as I do with all edits. The first pass is more of a big picture thing. I look for plot issues, character issues, settings, name swaps, etc. But, me being me, my brain trips over smaller things like repetition, punctuation, pet words, etc. I can’t help myself, and it slows me down. But if something catches my eye, I need to point it out. As with all my edits, I always make a list as I work through a manuscript, of words that pop up a lot, questions, stuff I need to check out with the good old Chicago Manual of Style.
At this stage, I’ll also make suggestions on how the story can be enhanced, whether it’s adding some tension to the story by using external factors like a heatwave which refuses to break, a storm on the horizon, a character who maybe needs to make an earlier appearance. I put comments in the manuscript, but if needed, I add a page or two of notes. It’s always a scary moment for me, making those suggestions and worrying that I’ve overstepped my bounds in some way. That’s never been an issue with RJ, thank goodness. P.S. It’s usually the first round of edits where I come across an emotional moment or three and cry a little.
RJ turns her edits around very quickly. Having said that, I always like to leave a few days between passes so that I’m looking at a manuscript with fresh eyes, as it were. Often, during the second pass, I’ll find things I missed first time, more issues of logic (how can X happen if Y and Z aren’t there? What’s happened to the dog? Didn’t X have blue eyes?). These things become more apparent to me on the second pass, because the little niggly things have been dealt with and are no longer a distraction. Again, I may make another list. With the second pass, it tends to be an excess of adverbs, or sorting out punctuation issues. The third pass is where I aim to catch the last little things. To help me with this, I change the font from Times New Roman to Ariel. For some reason, changing to a sans serif font makes it easier for me to find things like missing commas, quote marks, etc.
Then it’s time to send it back. RJ then sends the manuscript to a proof reader, which always makes me feel a little less worried. I live in terror of missing something big or obvious. So that’s our process in a nutshell. It never really feels like work to me, but then editing never really does. I get paid to read and to polish stories. To me, editing is a partnership. I love working with an author to improve their stories, and there’s always a sense of satisfaction when the job is done and a new book is sent out into the world.
Note from RJ : I love Sue – and she understands me. I never flinch from her suggestions, after all, if you don't listen to other people then you won't grow as an author!