Fine Tuning Easter

Editing, the old-fashioned way!

This week, my #1 concentration has been editing the completed manuscript for my new book, “Reaching Toward Easter”, which will be published later this fall as The Upper Room’s Lenten selection for 2012.

I’ve shared before how some of the complex “conception to publication” flow-chart works. Well, this is one of the more interesting stages because it retains – despite all our advanced technological capabilities – the same editing technique that’s been used for a hundred years.

The manuscript, having been processed and tweaked and fact-checked and copy-edited and fussed over for several months up in Nashville, is printed out on common “letter-sized” paper, but in close-to book dimensions so there is a lot of white space on each page.

The thick pile of paper is then sent, in the mail, to me. At this point – starting a week and a half ago – any changes must be written in by hand. That means:

  • addressing questions from my editor,
  • last-minute shifts,
  • small re-writes because I see the need,
  • systemic changes that crop up in almost every chapter (for example, “Derek, I’d like to see a more obvious ‘take-away’ for the reader in the last paragraph of each chapter…”). That particular query resulted in an additional sentence or two in almost all of 50 chapters….),
  • missing commas,
  • redundant words,
  • added references (“We need to document the source of that quote”),
  • re-phrasings,
  • etc. etc. etc…

Consequently, the only way to edit at this stage is to take over one end of the dining room table and camp out all week.

This morning I finished my last edit (I think…), and the manuscript is heading out from the Valrico Post Office around noon. I’ll get it back one more time, in “galley” form, for a final 3-day go-over just before the book goes to the printer.

At Smith Mountain Lake

A book – for all you bibliophiles out there – really is a living thing. It’s conceived, designed, researched, created, loved, nurtured, redesigned, fine-tuned, prayed for, fussed over, and even undergoes several surgeries… all before the finished product even roles off the press in the delivery room. By the time “Reaching Toward Easter” is ready to meet the public, probably a dozen or more people will have had their hand in the process. The author may have his or her name on the front cover, but this project has been raised by a veritable “village” – and for that I am grateful.

Note to self: I must find a way to get something like that on the “acknowledgments” page.


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