My experience with Twin Sense is the first time I've worked with content editors for a story under contract. The editorial deadline is only days away. We're just about finished now, then it's on to the copyeditor for book formatting. I've definitely learned a lot through this experience, but mostly it's made me wonder...
I wondered how I got a contract in the first place.
When I received first pass edits I wanted to cry. I've heard this is a normal reaction, but knowing it's normal didn't make it any less difficult. I kid you not, there was not a single page of my manuscript that didn't have suggested changes made by, not just one, but two editors.
If there was so much wrong with this story, why did they feel it was even worth publishing?
(Don't answer that.)
And by the way, that feeling of wanting to cry? It's horrid but temporary. I promise it will pass, and when it does, you'll have the correct frame of mind to actually do something worthwhile with those edits.
I wondered if the parts I changed had made the story worse rather than better.
I would say 70% of my edits required (relatively) easy fixes that made the sentences flow better, or clarified something minor, etc. But there were a few areas that I had to completely rewrite, and when you do a rewrite, that part of the story is back to square one in first draft stage. It's all new words. So I had this overwhelming fear that it totally sucked.
And when you're on a deadline, with an editor who is working on other authors' stories as well as yours, there's only so many times you can go back and forth to get it right.
Fortunately, even though it wasn't perfect, my editor liked the changes. There was still more work to do after this, but it wasn't nearly as soul-crushing as the first time around.
I wondered if the parts I'd meant to be funny were actually funny.
As a humor writer, this kind of wondering terrifies me. Twin Sense is a romantic comedy... what if no one finds it funny? My editor confirmed this fear when she told me that one of my running gags was only funny the first time. When it came back around again it had lost its salt.
I ended up removing that one altogether because I understood her point. But then of course it made me question every last particle of humor in the entire piece.
When she told me later, after several read-throughs, that she was still laughing out loud so much that she couldn't even mark each time in her notes, I finally relaxed. For that one day, anyway.
I wondered how I'd ever thought I knew how to use a comma.
Seriously. 90% of my grammar edits involved commas. What the FAIL?
I wondered how it was possible to make this story so much better than I ever imagined it could be on my own.
In other words, praise be to content editors! If I'd somehow gotten this published without an editor (or two) guiding me, it would have been an embarrassment without me even knowing. I don't care who you are or how long you've been writing, there are things you just can't see in your own work.
Beta readers and critique partners are great for this too, but ultimately, you need someone helping you who also has a financial investment in the story. They will help bring your story up to the level it needs to be in order to compete with what's already out there upon publication. And never once did they actually tell me what to do, or how specifically to change something, so every word written is still mine. Their comments and suggestions simply guided me in the right direction.
Content editors give your story a fighting chance. So now the only thing I have left to wonder is if all of this work we've put into Twin Sense will be worth it. I guess we'll find out on November 23.