Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Mysterious Line Edits

Tip of the Day: Eat lots of left over V-Day chocolate while working on line edits.

That thing you’ve heard about for so long and wondered what it is? Well, I got mine. Last week. And to sum it up in one word—WOW. I’m going to let you in on a little secret that you might not know if you haven’t reached this point in this publishing biz yet or you are just reaching it now—you have to know another language to read the line edits. Seriously! Prepare to understand things like LC/, swirlies, ^, something that looks like the cents sign, things that have three underlines, two horizontal or vertical dashes above a letter, swooshy arrows, big boxes above and below the text and so on.

When I first looked at my line edited manuscript my instinct was to curl up into a little ball and cry. The marks seriously looked like this to me:



(The above comic by Eve Corbel, http://www.geist.com/comix?id=18)

But I am a mature author now so I didn’t do that. Instead I e-mailed my writer friends and whined, “WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN???” This is why writer friends are so great—some of them DID know what this stuff means! They pointed me to great Web sites like—

http://www.merriam-webster.com/mw/table/proofrea.htm

http://www.espressographics.com/text/proofreader.html

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_proof.html

And would you believe a lot of these swirlies and slashes have meanings to them? Yup. But then I came across a number of them that still didn’t make sense to me. So I studied them and studied them and then finally just e-mailed my editor. I didn’t want to bother her with questions and look like I didn’t know what I was doing but hey—I DIDN’T know what I was doing. She very quickly and nicely explained everything to me and even sent a great example. Whew.

Now I am plowing my way through them and I have to say—at first it kind of feels like when you are in high school and you get back that English paper and it is SO marked up in pen or pencil that you just feel like OMG, what did I do wrong? Except, you know, a couple of hundred pages of this. But I keep reminding myself that every author goes through this, of course the book just can’t be perfect right off, and isn’t it wonderful to have an editor take so much time and work so hard on every little detail of your book? It is. I know this is just part of the process to make the most perfect book we can. So YAY for reaching this stage in the pub process!

Any of you authors that have been through line edits want to share your experiences?

Kristina, Miss Soon-to-Pub

5 comments:

Rhonda Stapleton said...

HAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHA that comic is PRICELESS. I'm dying laughing...thank you for sharing!!

Emily Marshall said...

Love the comic. And I'm curious to see anyone else speak up about line edits.

Ghost Girl said...

Hey Tina! Thanks for the hilarious comic and the heads-up. I know that feeling of "OMG I did so many things wrong!" But don't forget to think of "Wow! Look what I did do!" Pretty cool!

Hang in there and good luck with the line edits.

DeenaML said...

It is good to know what to expect.... :) You'll make it through all these edits in no time!

Michelle said...

I love the comic especially the one about Pringles.

I just got my MS back from my line editor and for me the line edits were so much easier to do than the content edits. I'd rather insert a comma than rewrite an entire scene. :) Good luck to anyone else facing revision like I am.

Michelle