The Truth About My Time, Part II: Editing

I edit.


It's always made me a tough critic.  But the more I've gotten sucked into the publishing industry, the harder it's gotten for me to read published books because so often, I'm on the verged of being sucked in and then I think of something I would have edited differently.

Or even more often, I read a book and like it, but still think of what I would have edited differently.

This is, of course, what makes the exceptions, all that more wonderful.  Books like a few that I read this year: You by Charles Benoit, Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell, Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta, Divergent by Veronica Roth, and Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott.

Then of course, there are my own clients' manuscripts which I edit and then send off into the world so an editor will hopefully fall in love with the manuscript just like I did, and then edit it some more.

The 2010 Statistics

Editorial Letters I Wrote for Clients: 129

          Shortest Letter: 3 pages

          Longest Letter: 14 pages

          Average: 7 1/2 pages

Editorial Letters I Wrote for Colleagues: 23
(When I was reading something for them as a Second Read)

Now, I mentioned I read fast.  It usually takes me about 3 1/2 hours to read a 300 page book, depending on the genre.  But editorial letters are different.  I might jot some notes down while I read, but actually thinking about everything, putting it onto paper and expressing my thoughts in a concise and coherent fashion (hopefully).

How Long Specifically?

The Fastest: Overnight, 7 hours total

The Longest: 13 Days

Average: 2-3 Days

Every agent I know, does the majority of their editing (read: all) at home.  I've heard a lot of editors do their editing outside of the office too (And yes, their editing is much much better than mine).

Here's why:

The second fastest editorial letter I wrote, I tried to do it as an overnight job.  I just started typing everything in an email.  I did this for two reasons: we were on a time constraint and it was one of the best manuscripts I'd read. Ever. I figured, there weren't going to be many notes.  So I set out and started typing.

I got about 75% finished before my brain started to feel like mush.  So I went to sleep.  The next morning, I finished typing everything up, gave the email a once over and sent it off to Unsuspecting Brilliant Writer.

Two days later, Unsuspecting Brilliant Writer, replied and said "Here's my revised version.  I took those NINE SINGLE SPACED PAGES OF NOTES and revised."

I replied and said: "That was not nine pages of notes!  Why do you lie so much?"

Unsuspecting (and Clever) Brilliant Writer replied with an attachment of said notes, copy and pasted into a word document.  And yes, it was 9 pages, single spaced, 12 pt font.

I said "...."

And then I said to myself You turned around 9 pages in 2 days...are you sure you got everything?

But Unsuspecting and Brilliant Writer is...well, Brilliant, and did it beautifully.

Not exactly a cautionary tale, but still, something tells me I wasn't quite as concise in that letter as I should have been.

You may also like


Marie Rearden said...

I will keep this concise. You're on my agent wish list for 2011 (or ever). I mean, seriously, 3.5 hours for 300 pages? My jaw has dropped, my eyes are buggy, and I'm doing this odd, up-down-in-out thing with my eyebrows. Okay, so that wasn't concise, but wow!

Unknown said...

LoL said author was brilliant and funny to respond with that. A 2 day turnaround that's a time constraint. I can read that fast too. However, it's a bit of a draw back trying to do it to my own work. When other authors want blurbs or suggested edits then I it's a superpower.


Sarah said...

Wow! Major respect.

Dan Krokos said...

That's pretty amazing!

Michelle said...

300 pages for 3 1/2 hours?! Awesome.

There's gotta be an award for that...or at least a group! Like the mensa IQ people group, but for reading really fast.

Simon Hay said...

That's pretty cool! It would take me a day to read 300 pages, and it would have to be a great read. Your stats are a little mind blowing. Thanks for sharing. Merry Christmas.

Natascha said...

That's awesome :) 300 pages in 3 1/2 hours is amazing. I can only hope to read that fast!

Angie said...

whoa that's fast. I'm seriously curious who the Brilliant writer is now, though I know you probably wont' tell. :)

Joanna said...

Suzie is seriously the fastest reader ever, and I used to think of myself as fast. I am literally double her time. Which usually turns into more than that because it's harder to find 7 uninterrupted hours (that aren't filled with sleep) than it is to find 3 and a half. She's my hero. :-)

Sarah Goldberg said...

Wow. You are a superstar.

cyndydrew said...

Okay. So you work as an agent during sunlit hours, and read/edit as an agent at home, when it's dark. And somewhere you harvest the time to blog. How, and when, do you escape work?! The best escape hatch, reading for pleasure, seems to have morphed into...more work! Aaaaaahhhhhh! You better jump on a plane to Vegas....

readingkidsbooks said...

You are truly amazing...both on the reading and editing front...I read slowly and write even more slowly so envy is burning through my veins.

Janet Reid said...

Unsuspecting and brilliant indeed.