After two weeks of suspense, Beauty’s Songbook came back from the editors…with more red marks than I’d ever imagined.

The editor’s letter was filled with praise (plus a few plot holes she’d picked up on), so I was a bit taken aback when I looked at the manuscript and realized she had suggested between 10 and 20 changes per page.

Anyone who has had their work edited, whether by a friend or a publisher or a paid editor, can probably relate.  It’s a bit humbling to see how many flaws slip past your attention, and I suppose I should think of it as an opportunity to learn.  Of course, I’m a trained copyeditor, so I immediately thought, “Is my writing that bad?  Honestly?”

Well, after going through the full manuscript and making changes as necessary, I realized a few things.  First, I’m not nearly as good at picking up typos as I expected.  I only had about 10 genuine typos in the entire book, but they were very noticeable.  Whoops!  Second, even when I disagreed with the editor’s suggested changes, I often realized that the sentences she had found issue with could be phrased more effectively or cleanly with a bit of work.  And finally, I had several other writers remind me that there’s a reason I’m the writer and my editor is an editor.  In other words, I decided to trust my best judgment even when it conflicted with her advice.  Some changes I followed through the whole manuscript, and others I dismissed outright.

Eventually I realized that most of the edits fell into one of () categories:

  1. Simple typos: I’d missed a quotation mark at the end of one section of dialogue, spelled Bastien as Bastian once, and forgotten to add/delete several words in the process of revising.
  2. Conventions following the Chicago Manual of Style: “Towards” had to be “toward,” for instance, even though neither is inherently better than the other.
  3. Awkward phrasing: Even when I didn’t go with the editor’s suggested changes here, I played around with rephrasing until the text sounded cleaner.
  4. Semicolons!: My editor clearly has a grudge against semicolons, to the extent that she would rather use awkward, repetitive sentences than leave the properly-used semicolon in the text.  Needless to say, I disregarded these changes.
  5. Cleaning up dialogue: Again, I trusted my own judgment here.  My editor enjoyed removing “unnecessary” bits of dialogue, most of which were there to provide characterization and flavor to the conversation.  If I had cut everything she suggested, my characters would have ended up lifeless.  When you’re writing dialogue, the most straightforward way of putting things isn’t always the best!

Anyway, this is all to say that I’ve learned a lot from working with an editor for the first time.  First of all, I’m not nearly as good at self-editing as I’d expected (lesson learned!).  And second, I do know enough to trust my own judgment when it counts.

What I’ve learned about Kindle Scout in the past two weeks:

  • Once your book goes up for preorder, everyone who nominated it during the Kindle Scout campaign process will receive a free copy.  The idea is that some of them will hopefully write reviews!  I’m still intending to gather a full launch team for this one, but as the book will come out at full price, I won’t be able to do much in terms of price promotions.
  • While some genres succeed beyond compare with Kindle Scout, others don’t seem to work as well.  Romances, mysteries, and thrillers appear to get a huge boost whenever Amazon promotes them, with authors rising to the top 100 in the paid store, though other genres (such as YA) have a harder time.  Beauty’s Songbook is YA, but it’s also fantasy (a genre that has proved successful), so it will be interesting to see what sort of ranking it achieves.
  • Kindle Scout will submit your title to a number of promotion sites–including BookBub!  That means you don’t have to pay anything to participate, though your title is still subjected to the usual selection process, which means it’s not guaranteed to be chosen.

Where I’m at in the process:

  • As I mentioned above, I got the manuscript back from the Kirkus editor.
  • The final revisions (everything exactly as it will be published) were due five days later, so I spent Easter weekend frantically making changes, patching up plot holes, and trying not to go cross-eyed as I repeatedly checked my newest draft with the editor’s marks.
  • I just turned in the final draft yesterday, which means I should have an official release date soon!  I’ll have a two-week pre-order window, during which time I’ll gather my launch team and prepare for publication.  Then the book is live!

I’m very excited to be nearing publication–it’s all coming together at last!!  If you want to join my launch team, or to hear the news as soon as it comes out, you can sign up for my newsletter here.

Thanks for following me on this Kindle Scout publishing journey!

~Rebecca

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