For the Love of Editing!

First, for anybody who’s wondering why Jazz Healy Books 1 & 2 aren’t out yet – I said April 2nd, right? – sorry for the late update. I tweeted about it and was sure I’d posted about it here but apparently not. D’oh!

Essentially, I underestimated publishing things a lil bit (I are newb, after all), and publishing both Miltan Epsilon and Chak’r’Das on April 2nd was too big an ask. I might’ve been able to get Miltan Epsilon out the door but I really want Books 1 & 2 to be released at the same time so decided to reschedule to May 4th. A Tuesday, which the internet tells me is the best day of the week for media releases, but also Star Wars Day. Probably not super ideal but imma go with it.

I do have the finished cover art for Miltan Epsilon, courtesy of the most excellent L.E. Badillo. Here it is if you haven’t seen it already:

I’ve worked with L.E. before, on covers for the Comets and Criminals zine, and I’ve always liked his style. There were several iterations of the cover before we got to this point; perhaps in a later post I’ll show the various mock-ups and previous versions and discuss how we got here. End result is awesome, in my opinion, and I’m super-excited to see the cover for Chak’r’Das come to fruition over the next few weeks.

In other publishing-related news, I’ve chosen my primary aggregator: StreetLib. For those who might be unfamiliar with what an aggregator is in self-publishing terms, they are essentially a service that distributes your book to various retail channels on your behalf. This means a self-publisher can target many different marketplaces without having to individually go through the process of publishing the book on each one. An aggregator will take a small slice of each sale you make (in addition to the slice the retail channel takes) but the amount of time and effort saved is well worth it, I think. More time for writing and editing, right?

I chose StreetLib because I like their international reach, which seems far greater than other aggregators I researched. I suppose I could use all the aggregators so as to reach all the markets but I want to keep things as simple as possible, otherwise my pea brain will explode. At this stage, I’ll probably only publish direct to Amazon and Google Play, and have StreetLib get my book into all the retailers they have agreements with.

Anyhoo, to finally get around to the main topic for this post: Editing! For the love of it, even!

If you’ve seen my Twitter account (if you haven’t, here it is: https://twitter.com/SCMae2), you’ll have noticed that a lot of my tweets are editing-related. Poor editing puns, editing-related observations, editing self-motivation. Part of that is because I really do like editing – it’s probably the aspect of the story-crafting process I find most enjoyable (more on that later) – but the biggest reason is that I’ve been doing nothing but editing for months. More than half a year, even!

I finished the first draft of Tra-Obis, Book 4 in the Jazz Healy, Reunion series, on the 26th of September 2020. And since then, I’ve been editing, editing, editing. First there was the big edits on Book 3, Garbadon Major. That took me nearly to the end of the year. During that time I also finished the outline for Book 1 of The Next Series in a Completely Different Universe and made a start on the outline for Book 2 (so I guess technically that was writing rather than editing) and suddenly it was 2021 and I was gunning for an April 2nd release date. So apart from schooling myself on the various aspects of self-publishing – like, for real schooling, not the relaxed research I had been doing – I also needed to make sure the first two books were shipshape. That took me a few weeks – there’s always stuff that can be improved – and then I went right into big edits on Tra-Obis. After I finish those (I’m nearly 50% through right now), I’ll need to do the final edits on Garbadon Major and, sometime before September, the final edits on Tra-Obis. Hopefully in between those two final edits I’ll write the first draft of Book 1 of TNSiaCDU.

These last couple weeks have been slow going. Some of that, I think, is due to Tra-Obis being the messiest draft of the four Jazz Healy books so there’s a lot that needs a-fixing, but I might also be suffering from a little bit of editing burnout. I need to write me some fresh fiction!

As far as the editing process goes, I tend to edit thusly: big edit first (usually three or more months after the draft is finished), which is a combination of a structural edit and a line edit. Both those types of editing are as they sound, looking at overall story structure and then line-by-line dissection. Some time later I’ll do what I call a final edit, which is a combination of a softer line edit plus proofreading. After that, hopefully, the book is ready to go 🙂

The editing process is fun. I always think of story-crafting in terms of sculpting (full disclosure, I have never sculpted and likely never will, so my analogy might be waaay off):

The idea is the stone.

Outlining and drafting are carving the stone. Making the general shape of the story, then further shaping it but it’s still pretty rough and sometimes I can get away with rushing through certain sections.

Editing is refining the sculpture. This part of the process is generally more delicate, finicky. Sure, sometimes I’ll carve off whole chunks and totally redistribute the shape of some areas but mostly I’m carefully, slowly, refining the story into its final form. Because of this I often linger over edits. Go back over the same sections three or four days in a row, changing little bits here and there. Often I’ll have further realizations some time after I’ve completed a section and will go back to revamp, revise, refresh – which in turn can have more flow-on effects for the rest of the book. I’m happy to take my time editing but editing too slow can be just as dangerous as editing too fast.

I know many self-publishers hire editors for some or all parts of the editing process. There are various (all good) reasons for doing this, not least of which is that outside eyes are typically far more objective than those of the writer. There’s also the business aspect, too. Many self-publishers are publishing books every month or two and want to keep their output high to grow their income or to keep it steady. I haven’t hired any editors for the Reunion Series and I’m not planning on doing so for future books, either (though this is, of course, not written in stone). Why not? Editing is just too much fun. If I got others to do most of my editing I’d kinda feel like I was only having half the fun I should be. That may or may not be a sound business decision but I have to enjoy what I love doing, right?

For the love of editing? Yep, which is all part of the love of writing.

S.C. Mae

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