Thursday, November 13, 2008

How many editors does it take? Part 2

Today we welcome Karen Syed of Echelon Press for a publisher’s view of the editing process. Welcome, Karen!

Dani: How many of the various types of edits does each of your books go through from start to finish?

Karen: When the book is submitted I make general notes as I read. Then, upon acceptance, it goes to the Sr. Editor who makes a general read and makes general comments. At that point it is assigned to an editor who goes back and forth with the author until they are both certain it is as clean as it can be. Then it goes back to Sr. Editor, who goes through and offers any further notes. Goes back to editor and author until they are again certain it is clean.

Once it gets the approval of the Sr. Editor, it comes to me. I do final formatting and word by word read-through and make any further edits or comments.

At that time, a last PDF proof is sent back to the author so they can make a final read-through and make any revision requests required.

I go back and forth with the author until they make final approval, at which point is goes to press.

Dani: How many "editors" for each book?

Karen: At Echelon we have a minimum of two, usually three editors on each project.

Dani: What is the absolute last time you can make corrections before publication?

Karen: When I send out the final PDF proof to the author, we go back and forth until they say they are 100% satisfied with the book. Once they make that approval, time is up.

So, you see, readers, the editing process is ongoing and intense. This underscores the importance of having a clean manuscript to submit to a publisher, because without doubt, the editing process will continue for several rounds before the book actually goes into print. It’s a tremendous amount of work. But good editing, before submission and after, is what gives a book the edge when it hits print. It’s not an area in which to cut corners.
Dani Greer is a professional artist and writer who is one of those aforementioned independent editors for her favorite writing pals. She prefers to read historical and cozy mysteries. Dani is the founding member of the Blood-Red Pencil. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.


  1. Aak, you're making my head spin. Too many editors. Wait. I am an editor. There are never too many editors, I say!

    Just kidding. I think it's wonderful that Echelon spends so much time getting each book ready for publication. Thank you to Karen and her crew at Echelon Press.

  2. We have to do all we can because otherwise we get the notes from those helpful readers who give us page by page notes on what we did wrong.

    I kid you not!

    We are in this for the long haul and editing is key. If a book is badly edited, it makes for a bad reading experience for the consumer and then they won't buy future books.

  3. That's why it's best to have more than one person check your manuscript before you send it off. The author is too close to the work to do a perfect job finding errors.

    Morgan Mandel

  4. Now she tells me what I'm in for :) But it's also reassuring to know that my book will be perfect by the time Karen's done with it.

  5. Karen, how much time does each editor get with the manuscript? Weeks, months? This is another helpful bit of information, especially for anxious authors. At your house, how many manuscripts might each editor have in the pipeline? How many are on YOUR pile??

    Thanks for sharing with us. It's all so darned fascinating.


  6. Generally speaking we try to allow several months for ech editor. When it goes through the first round it might go back and forth between the author/editor five or six times. The goal is to have each of them find every possible error they can. Then it goes to the next round. This is more of a content edit ot make sure that all the holes have been plugged.

    Once they are all done tinkering with the book, it comes to me and I do a line by line. Then it goes back to the author for another line by line. The author will be the final say. They go back and forth with me until THEY approve the final script.

    This all usually takes about 3 months, sometimes a little longer, sometimes less.

    I try not to have editors working on more than two projects at a time. This prevents confusion and burnout.

    What's mostly on my pile are submissions. However, right now I have a backlog of about 4 books that need my final touch.

  7. Karen,
    Thanks for sharing Echelon's editing process. Most beginning writers probably have no concept of how much editorial work the publisher does.

  8. Wow! Talk about thorough. It sounds like an intense process. A good process, though. If you read a lot, you tend to get a laser-eye for inconsistencies and editing mistakes. Readers appreciate a polished book!

  9. And by the time I get to that CLEAN manuscript, I'm so sick of it, I could throw up! :;-)


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice.