Swoon Author Devon Taylor's Editing Update: When Things Click Into Place
If you’ve kept up with the Swoon Reads blog, and read all of the awesome Editing Updates by all of the fabulous Swoon authors who’ve written them, then you know by now that editing is… hard. Or at least, it can be. Some days, editing a book is akin to slicing a freshly polished fork into the first bite of a homemade German chocolate cake. (I have a bit of a sweet tooth. Can you tell?) And other days, editing is akin to someone slicing a freshly polished fork into YOU.
When I first uploaded The Soul Keepers to the Swoon website, I knew deep down in my gut that it wasn’t quite right. The fundamental pieces of what it could be were there, but the problem was that I hadn’t let a SINGLE OTHER PERSON read it. Not even my wife—who has championed this book and has helped to shape it and to whom IT IS DEDICATED—had read the book before I hit that fabled “Submit” button. (Actually, I made my wife do that, too, because I was too scared.) I didn’t have any feedback from anyone to help me rework the book, and not enough time before the submission deadline to ask for it. So, I already had the understanding that if on the off-off-off chance my book was selected, it was going to need some serious neurosurgery to get all the mechanics right.
Luckily, a few months later, when the clouds parted and a ray of sunshine fell upon me in the form of an actual book deal, I was paired up with an absolutely incredible editor—Emily Settle. From the very first time we talked on the phone, I knew that Emily was not only as over-the-top excited about my book as I was, but that she also understood the book in a way that not even I did. She knew what parts weren’t working and what parts needed to be more fleshed-out. She had (and still has) a hardcore appreciation for the sheer bad-assery that I was trying to inject in the book. And her edit letter reflected ALL of that.
I wasn’t exactly terrified to get the edit letter, but I wasn’t exactly super stoked either. I knew it had the potential to rip out my soul (see what I did there?) and tear it to shreds. But when the infamous letter finally dropped into my inbox, I wasn’t just relieved, I was ecstatic! I agreed with almost every suggestion right away and found myself thinking (more than once), Yes! This is genius!
When I’m writing (or thinking about writing) I tend to scribble ideas in notebooks and in the margins of manuscripts—I love it when a rough draft really looks rough. So, I immediately printed out Emily’s edit letter and went to town making my own notes, leaving myself reminders for ways to implement changes, and highlighting certain parts of the letter itself. And when I eventually sat down with my coffee and my notes to get to work, I was even more excited than I was before.
Of course, there were days when it was hard work, work I didn’t really want to do. There were also days when I lacked the confidence to do anything but sit in front of the computer screen and let it mock me silently. But for the most part, the editing process was this magical series of changes to my book that finally allowed everything to click into place. Parts that were disjointed and wonky suddenly became smoother and more evenly-paced. Some changes opened up doorways to include new scenes or new details that made the book that much stronger. It was kind of like when you’re fumbling with the radio dial and you can kind of hear the station you want, but then you turn it just a little bit more and all of a sudden the signal’s coming in loud and clear. It was that neurosurgery that The Soul Keepers needed to make it the absolute best book it could be.
I am so, so happy with the way The Soul Keepers turned out, you guys. And I can’t wait for you to read it, if only to see what a little hard work and awesome teamwork can produce.