I just (yesterday) finished the editing process for Sweet Dreams Are Made Of Teeth with my new publisher, Curiosity Quills. It finished off with a long Google Chat session with my editor for that book, and I thought it would be neat to discuss how it all went!
First, there are two levels of editing at CQ. They have an intake editor who decides what books are accepted, and she does the first round. These are 'story edits', things that need to be changed to make the book publishable. In my case, this went very smoothly. Wild Children I insisted on no story edits to, but I'm not sure they wanted any. Sweet Dreams got no story edits at all. Quite Contrary, a book I wrote knowing it would be hard for any market to swallow, got only three. She asked for the swearing to be reduced (not eliminated). I didn't mind that. She asked for the fairy tale at the end to be updated... enough that I had to rewrite it from scratch. I knew I'd have to do that already. It just wasn't as good as the rest of the book, and was too important to leave feeling out of place. She asked for Mary's age to be changed from nine to twelve. I didn't like that, but it's an easy change to make and I trusted her judgment that from the reader's perspective Mary can't pass as nine. Once I made the change, it reads very well to me, so I no longer mind at all. The rewritten chapter took about a week. The other edits... maybe three hours total.
The second level of editing is 'line editing', which is what I just finished. I swear, I have never worked with such a nice editor, professionally or unprofessionally. She was herself a very competent writer with a feel for sentence flow, so most of her offered corrections I could accept without change. She sent me a copy of the manuscript with things that needed changing marked yellow, and her suggested changes or comments in red. All I had to do was mail back a separate file listing any of her changes I didn't accept. Her comments on what was wrong were very simple, like (comma) or (split infinitive) or (tense not consistent). That took the sting out. Being edited is terrifying and painful by nature. A creative work you poured your soul into is being judged and found wanting, over and over. Still, I hadn't gotten too far before it felt less like that and more like discussing touch ups with a friendly co-writer.
Each book gets a different line editor. I am praying the other two are as nice to work with. YOU HEAR ME, CQ?!?! Especially since I expect the Quite Contrary line edits to drop in my lap any minute now.
At the very end, and I don't think this is standard, I had a Google Chat conversation with Sweet Dreams' editor. Some of it was discussing how we felt about the book. I suspect the book is so weird she was probing for marketing copy, but I don't know. A lot of it was just friendly chat. Some of it was making sure I would be available for advertising activities up to and including book signings and tours. I doubt those two will happen any time soon, but the mere suggestion blew me away. One thing I learned is that they publish most novels three months after receiving them, and a few novels like Sweet Dreams six months after. It's based entirely on how much time they think they should spend on prep work like advertising, getting reviews, scheduling events, and making sure the paper(!) versions are ready.
Oh, and she suggested they'd love bonus material for all three books they can include with special sales copies.
So, that's how my week has been! Before that conversation I was editing - and editing, and editing, semi-nonstop for three days.