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January 30, 2012

Behind the Book — The Copy Edits

Filed under: writing — Tags: , , , , , , — jennifer @ 11:53 am

It never fails. As soon as I start building up momentum (the research, the story, the outlining) on the new book– Velva Jean #4– I’m summoned back to Velva Jean #3– Becoming Clementine. Friday afternoon I received the copy edited manuscript of Clementine, which is due back to my editor February 6.

Just to recap what’s happened so far in the process:

In September of last year, I handed in the manuscript for Clementine (then titled Velva Jean Learns to Spy and, alternately, Velva Jean Goes to War).

While it was in my editor’s hands I began gathering research materials and resources for Velva Jean #4, her Hollywood adventure, which is due to my editor in September of this year.

In December of last year, my editor gave me her notes on Clementine, which I had a week to implement before returning the edited manuscript to her before Christmas.

Since the holidays, I’ve been researching and brainstorming Velva Jean #4.

My editor has since gone over Clementine again, adding more notes, making more cuts, and in the meantime it has also been in the hands of the copy editor. This past Friday, that version was sent to me, which means I have set Velva Jean #4 aside again as I work on Clementine.

The manuscript will go back to Penguin next Monday, and I will go back to 1940’s Hollywood.

I will see Becoming Clementine again before it’s published– after this, we will go through what’s called the First Pass and then the Second Pass. These rounds are primarily to check for typos in the printing and any last little changes. Any larger changes need to be made now, on the copy edited script.

Which means this is it, folks. One of the most important moments in a book’s life.

So I am hunkering down at my desk. I have bid farewell to my friends and my Hollywood notes and research, promising I will see them all next week after I’m through this, because it is pretty much a round-the-clock job. Not, mind you, because the book is in such dire shape right now– I actually think it’s in really good shape– but because I have to read and edit very carefully, knowing that this is the last time for the big stuff and one of the most important moments in a book’s life.

As writer Paul Theroux once said, “Writing is pretty crummy on the nerves.” I would like to second that. But, as nerve-inducing as this particular moment in the process is, it’s also exciting. After all, it’s just one step closer to publication…

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