Friday, May 3, 2013

Countdown to a Book 8: The Manuscript Becomes a Book

This past month I arrived at the narrow end of the editing funnel, where we examined all of the final finicky details.

Thankfully, considering I’m an editor, I received a pretty light copyedit. Comments from two copyeditors dotted my manuscript. Even though I recommend that my clients spell out all numerals, I had applied my own advice inconsistently. I had to decide when God was the almighty or the god of casual “oh my—” usage. My “blonde” was changed to “blond.” I surrendered a few commas, they traded a few back. One editor pointed out the possible unintentional humor in the sentence, “By the time we got to the butt-blaster, Angela looked pooped.” I had two weeks to address these edits and make any other final changes.

Template review
My first glimpse at the interior design and all its elements! Everything looked great. Because my book quotes "articles" written by a character who is a dance critic, and in one place contains a formal invitation, we had a little back-and-forth on how that would be handled.

Cover of The Art of Falling by Kathryn Craft 
Click to enlarge

Advance Review Copy cover 
I could now see the ARC cover, with its eye-catching spine, in its entirety. Playing counterpoint to the breathtaking simplicity of the front is the busy back cover, which carries the three blurbs that made the April 22 deadline—any additional blurbs that come in by October 1 will be used on the final book. The back cover copy is the result of a collaboration between the editorial director, my editors, and me. Because this is where content meets marketing meets design, one wrong step could...well, if you look at the back cover, I guess you can figure out where I was going with that. Every word is so critical that Sourcebooks continued to tweak the tagline even after I approved it—thank goodness, because I love how this final version speaks to the novel’s layers! The way they "stepped" its design adds to its impact.

Advance Reader Copy Edits
I had nine days to turn this edit around and did it in five. It is so much easier to read a well-designed novel than a manuscript! The font's long ascenders and descenders give strong visual cues. The spacing between lines, added to the shorter line length, speeds reading and aids comprehension. Editing this copy was a new experience as words stacked differently on the page. I made twenty small tweaks, none of them large enough to affect the flow of the text on the page, but all of them definite improvements.
An example: “So although he never asked me to stay, I did.”
I changed this to: “So although he never asked me to, I stayed.”
“Stayed” is a stronger end to this sentence, and meaningfully impregnates the white space before the next paragraph with stillness.

This final edit was the most gratifying step of the journey. All of our efforts had come together in one place: The cover. A page of praise. The title page. The copyright page. The dedication. The epigraphs. The story, fully shaped, thoroughly edited, and now so beautifully laid out, with the movement of story and prose underscored by sweeping drops caps and line break swishes. The acknowledgements, honoring all who helped me get here. The "Reading Group Guide," where I can engage with my readers. "A Conversation with the Author," that shares some background about the story and my relationship to it. The author photo taken by my son. "About the Author," a brief sketch of my career. Each element contributing as my manuscript became a book.

And by the time I write my next Countdown post, I will have held one in my hands. My next post will tell you what all is being done with it.

Just catching up? Here are links to the other posts in this series:
Countdown to a Book 1: Joining Hands
Countdown to a Book 2: Pitching
Countdown to a Book 3: Getting My Agent
Countdown to a Book 4: Developmental Editing
Countdown to a Book 5: All About Image
Countdown to a Book 6: From Writer to Author
Countdown to a Book 7: Five Tips for Getting Blurbs

Next: Countdown to Book 9: Why an ARC?

Kathryn Craft is a developmental editor at, an independent manuscript evaluation and line editing service. Her women's fiction and memoir are represented by Katie Shea at the Donald Maass Literary Agency. Her monthly series, "Countdown to a Book," details the traditional publication of her debut novel, The Art of Falling, by Sourcebooks in January 2014. Connect with Kathryn at her Facebook Author Page and Twitter.


  1. So you made the deadline!!!! Fantastic. And good luck with your book. I can't wait to get my hands on it.

    Stellar post. Loved that you pulled me into your writerly self.

  2. Thanks Henya! I'm truly thankful to my patient editing clients who realize I've had to shift my priorities a bit to get everything done. ;)

  3. Hi Kathryn,
    I love reading about your book journey. You have inspired me in many ways. Hopefully, my footsteps won't be too far behind.
    But what I want to know is your decision on the final rewrite of the Angela and the butt-blaster sentence. What a hoot!

  4. Can't wait to get my hands on a copy. Congrats again!

  5. Thanks for sharing. There IS something special about getting that final "almost real book" ARC. I save mine, with all the little post-its sticking out (I can't bear to write in a book, even an ARC).

    Terry's Place

  6. Kathryn,
    I think this is very cool. Thank you for giving me a glimpse inside your world. As a fellow author I know the process is tedious, but well worth it. Much success in the future.

  7. Kathryn, I'm dizzy just reading all this - and out of breath! Thanks for the chuckle again on this change: "By the time we got to the butt-blaster, Angela looked pooped.”

    It's truly amazing the hard work and details that go into bringing a manuscript to life as a book, all from a lone writer putting the beauty in her head onto paper that now the world will see.

    Your journey is eye-opening and inspiring. I can see how all the layers to this journey can weigh you down until you can't possibly get up - but then you do, and peel each layer away to eventually fly into the sun for all to see.

  8. Stephanie, your words warm my heart, thank you. And haha—good question! Looking for synonyms for "exhausted" (so I could shovel the poop), I found "ready to drop." This ended up being so much better, as it foreshadows other upcoming events. So:

    “By the time we got to the butt-blaster, Angela looked ready to drop.”

  9. Terry your comment is just so funny. I too was taught it sacrilege to write in a book, although this probably had to do with the fact that I shared books with four siblings. It was only after hearing an author say that she loves it when someone brings a well-thumbed copy with notes in the margin to a signing, since it shows that the reader has heavily interacted with her book, that I allowed myself to start underlining.

  10. Thanks Donna and you are so right about all the details and choices this ARC represents.

    The only experience in my life I can compare it to is that of being a writing conference chair, and finally seeing the website go up. Seeing the schedule beautifully designed for clarity and user interaction, its sessions and descriptions all carefully scheduled, the agent/editor/presenter bios all representing numerous inquiries and negotiations, the workshop and advance submission instructions, meal options, registration forms, and myriad other details, now pulled together in one place. Very gratifying.

  11. I've loved sharing this journey with you, Kathryn. So glad your edits were relatively painless. (Smile)

  12. Congratulations!! You did it! And I love the cover!

  13. What a fantastic journey! I can hardly wait to read the book, Kathryn.

  14. Thanks Linda, and it is a journey, isn't it? I wanted to write this series because I'd heard so much about how to get an agent, and so many theories about how best to market a book, yet so little on why it takes a year+ to produce one!

  15. Your authorship journey is inspiring! Thank you for sharing so I can imagine it for myself.

    Cheering you along the final sprint ***whoohoo*** (pompomps swishing)

  16. Thanks Lisa! No one can EVER have enough cheerleaders, and you are one of the best!


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