Content Edits

Negotiations are done. You’ve placed your Hancock on the line tethering yourself to a publisher. Dancing like Calvin from one side of the room to another, you’re ready to relax. Because – you’ve done your part, right?

Wrong. It’s editing time.

But wait! You’ve edited the manuscript seven or eight times already. It’s perfect! An absolute dream!

Unfortunately, not. This is the time when your publisher will bring in an editor. Maybe just the one to focus on both content and line editing, or maybe a few. Generally, the process starts with a content editor. They will read through the manuscript looking for major continuity issues.

Perhaps one of the characters says it’s summer in one scene, but there’s snow in the next. Your main character was abandoned as a child at two and is now eighteen. The age was shifted earlier, but you forgot to change some math somewhere, and it still reflects when you had the character as twenty-one. It could even be something not mentioned earlier or not explained fully. They spot these idiosyncrasies before the book comes out, so your readers won’t have their experience interrupted by confusion.

If you are as lucky as I am, you’ll get an awesome content editor who actually enjoys reading the type of book you’ve written. Sometimes editors don’t get the luxury of reading only their favorite genres. When your book has an editor who loves the genre, they often go above and beyond commenting not just on the content itself but on the story as a whole.

For my book, High Summons, I ended up doing two main content edits. Most of what I did was clarify terminology earlier on. However, thanks to my editor, I added about ten thousand words and a good amount of more explicit character development.

I’m not onto line edits (which I’ll talk about next week). For those of you just entering the process, my biggest piece of advice would be to stay open to change. If you trusted the publisher enough to sign with them, trust their editors. More likely than not, your readers will respond like your editors. They may even be more easily confused. Be open to change. Trust yourself and your editor enough to explain why you are or are not okay with adding or removing certain sections.

Good luck!


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