Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the standard editing process for a New York Publishing House?
The process is different at each house, and even with each author or each book the author produces. But here is a general step-by-step guide of what should happen. Sometimes steps get skipped (like an author might submit their manuscript and it will go straight to copy-edits and sometimes the line-by-line is done with the copy-edit) either because the manuscript is polished and ready or the publishing house is on a tight deadline.
- Author submits their completed manuscript to their editor.
- The editor reviews the manuscript and does a Substantive Edit with in-line notes and an edit letter (sometimes 20-50 pages long).
- If there are big changes needed in the manuscript, sometimes the author and editor collaborate back and forth until questions are answered and all problems are resolved and both the editor and author are happy.
- Sometimes this edit involves meeting the word count the author contracted at. If they agreed to submit a book at 90,000 words and their book is 110,000 words, they have to trim the book.
- The author revises the manuscript and submits the final version to the editor.
- The editor does a Line Edit on the manuscript.
- The author revises based on the line edit and approves final changes. At this point, the author is not allowed to change more than 10% of the book, per contract.
- The manuscript is given to a copy-editor. Sometimes the manuscript is split in half and copy-edits are completed by two editors to finish it quicker.
- The author approves all copy-edits on the book. The author cannot make any substantive changes at this point.
- The author is sent galleys (a printed or electronic of the final book as it will be printed at the press) for approval. This is the author’s last chance to find any errors, such as typos, in the manuscript. Only errors will be fixed at this point.
- The book is printed. The author rejoices and eats lots of chocolate (optional).
Q: What is the difference between a copy-edit and a line edit?
A line edit will help improve the overall prose of the story and point out writing techniques to elevate the writing skills of the author with the intent to. A copy-edit is a high-end proofread and the last edit a manuscript should ever see and works with the manuscript on a technical level, ensuring that the writing as it appears on the page meets industry standards.
EXAMPLE 1) Original passage:
She reluctantly handed over her purse, and nervously waited to have it placed back in to her hands. She felt a rush of relief as the Security Guard finished his search after 30 seconds and handed it back to her.
The same passage, after a line editor has helped the author rewrite it so that it reads more fluidly:
She was reluctant to hand over her purse, and felt a rush of relief as the Security Guard finished his search and placed it back in to her hands 30 seconds later.
And the same passage, after it’s been copyedited for grammar and usage (with edits in bold):
She was reluctant to hand over her purse, and felt a rush of relief as the security guard finished his search and placed it back into her hands thirty seconds later.
EXAMPLE 2) Another Original passage:
The rising light of the sun was quickly brightening. Dawn was turning into morning. Alex finished reading her copy of the “New York Times” and put the paper down on the table, and then grabbed her ipod and put on Beyoncé’s Crazy in Love and went out for her mourning run.
After a line editor has helped the author to rework it so that it reads more fluidly:
The dawn light brightened, giving way to morning. Alex tossed “The New York Times” onto the table, grabbed her ipod, and then put on Beyoncé’s Crazy in Love as she headed out for her morning run.
*Notice here, the line editor caught and fixed a couple of technical errors, like the typo on the second use of “morning” and the inclusion of “The” as part of the newspaper’s title. But even more is fixed…
After the passage has been copy-edited for grammar and usage:
The dawn light brightened, giving way to morning. Alex tossed The New York Times onto the table, grabbed her iPod, and put on Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love” as she headed out for her morning run.