Saturday, January 14, 2017

A Peek Behind the Scenes #7 - With an Editor!

Erica here:

It was our total pleasure to work with JoAnne Simmons on the editing and polishing of this collection. JoAnne is a real pro with a great eye when it comes to editing, and she's also an all-around sweetie! :)

Several years ago, JoAnne was the acquiring editor for Heartsong Presents, a direct-to-consumer book club owned by Barbour Publishing. Not only that, but she was my first editor ever! The one who offered me my very first publishing contract. 

In addition to being a great editor, JoAnne is an author in her own right, too. Her latest work is Christmas Remembered: A Holiday Memory Journal for Families. 

Isn't it stunning? She's written devotionals, too. Be sure to check her work out wherever good books are sold! And now, here's JoAnne.

Editing a book by seven authors writing about the same characters in the same family? That sounded like a challenge I couldn’t resist! I jumped at the chance, especially knowing what a great group of authors this is, several of whom I’ve had the joy of working with on multiple books over the last 10+ years. And, really, this group made my job as breezy as possible with the fantastic series guide they’d already put together at the start of their brainstorming and plotting.

That guide contained all the info needed to keep the setting and many characters consistent throughout seven different stories and writing styles. From physical descriptions about every handsome Hart brother to mental pictures of each room of El Regalo and everything in between, these authors had the many, many, many details covered, much to this editor’s appreciation. A large part of my job was to make sure all seven authors stayed on track with this great guide--and what a pleasure to do so! Fascinating characters in a great western setting and unique stories for each of the brothers often made me forget this project was any kind of work.

The rest of my job was to look carefully at each individual story and all of them together as a whole to see how they could improve, asking questions and making comments and suggestions to the authors such as:

How could we make this plot even more captivating? What do you think of this idea?

This isn’t consistent with ______. Find ______ and compare.

The writing needs tightened up here. Are these changes okay?

This read awkwardly, and I’m not sure what you meant here. Can you revise?

This word choice might not be best. How about this instead?

This character’s motivation needs strengthened, what about this idea to do so?

Show us more about what the character is experiencing here.

Since I sound like a relentless nag in the majority of my notes to authors, my favorite part of editing is to add in encouraging comments, showing the authors where I best pictured their vivid description, where I laughed out loud, where I really connected with a character or message, and the spot where I shed a tear or two (or more sometimes!)

The goal by the end of my edit is to have my nagging comments resolved and replaced with even more encouraging ones, like “Yes, this fixes it. Good job.” or “Oh, I get it now. Thanks for clarifying”--so that by the time the book is in the hands of readers, we give them the best possible story experience.

I’m confident that Seven Brides for Seven Texans is an experience that lovers of inspiring historical romance stories do not want to miss! Enjoy!

Thank you so much to JoAnne Simmons for giving us a peek behind the scenes of what it was like to edit this collection. Hopefully we weren't too hard on her! :)

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  1. Loved the book and plan on reading it again. Everyone worked so well together. Looking forward to reading more books by everyone that took part in this one!

  2. Working with JoAnne was a real pleasure. Her kind words and understanding meant a great deal to me.

  3. Thank you for sharing these glimpses of the editing process, JoAnne! I love this collection!!

  4. It sounds like you had your hands full. It is good there is someone on the "outside" keeping the books on track. I am sure there are times when the authors wonder why you are making the suggestions you are, but the finished product proves you were right.

  5. Wow, I can't imagine it! What a wonderful job and I love how encouraging you were. Thanks for letting us in on a small part of what you do.