The Editing Process

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Feb 24 2015

Just as writers often discuss the process they have when writing, agents and editors often discuss the processes they have when editing. I think part of this discussion is the hope that we’ll come up with an easier way, but in the end we’re all using the process that works best for us.

The way I edit is not only different from the way other agents or editors edit, but its even different from author to author or book to book. And sometimes I don’t even know how I’m going to edit something until I start doing it. 
With some books I can sit down with my Kindle and a notebook. I read the manuscript in the same way I read a book, but with an editorial eye. Anytime something seems off to me or doesn’t feel right I make a note in my notebook and when I’m done I work all of my notes into a revision letter. This kind of editing is usually done with books that need more general global changes. Things like, soften the heroine or more red herrings.
For other books I need to sit in front of my computer. I open the document, turn on track changes and leave the notes as I read. This means edits, cuts, word choice changes and, usually, a lot of sidebar comments. This kind of editing is usually done for those books where a global letter might not really convey what I mean, but leaving comments throughout can help shape the book in the same bigger way. So instead of saying soften the heroine I can say, “the heroine feels really nasty and unlikeable here” or “delete this line.”

The thing about the editing process that I think most authors forget is that it takes a long time. Not as long as it does to write a book certainly, but a lot longer than it takes to read one. For an editor to give a good solid edit she needs to have a  little space and freedom to do so. In other words, trying to do it the week royalties are due or when there are five other things to be read won’t work. Sort of like a speed edit or speedy revisions won’t usually work for an author.


6 responses to “The Editing Process”

  1. I'm an editor, and I like your suggestion about sitting down and reading a manuscript like you would any other book when it needs more global changes. How do you put the manuscripts on your Kindle? (I especially like the Kindle idea because it would be much less expensive and wasteful than printing a full manuscript!) I still feel like a newbie with Kindle because I prefer paper books and my Kindle is old now, so I'm not sure the logistics of how to do so. Any tips would be appreciated, thanks!

  2. I have a question. When you begin the editing process are your notes and revision-suggestions based on a first read?

    I'm thinking that if you have not read the entire book at least once you may make note of, or question something, which happens later on.

    Copy edits pretty much jump right off the page but the other stuff, like plot holes filled, questions answered, twists and surprises may be further down the line because that's what the writer is intends, even though as a reader you may feel a little lost as the story builds.

    Great post. I love learning how you guys actually do your job.

  3. Avatar jfaust says:


    There are a number of ways (I think) to send documents to a kindle. I simply email the document as an attachment to my Kindle email address (should be found in your Amazon account under Kindle settings) and Amazon converts it and uploads it to my Kindle. It works great.


  4. Great! I'll have to check it out. I hope my Kindle's not too old for that . . . Thank you!

  5. I enjoy reading about the editors side of the process. This makes sense that you would have different processes for different books, writers go about writing/plotting differently and every book has its unique bumps and rough edges that need smoothing out. An interesting post!

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