Our Editing Teamwork

Although Brian and I enjoy spending time on the road promoting his books, like so many of you, we’ve spent much of the last year at home. Now, the good thing about this is that Brian’s been able to really dive into his multiple projects. In fact, he will have three new books coming out this year…INFINITE (coming in March), THE BOURNE TREACHERY (coming in July), and THE URSULINA (coming sometime later this year, so stay tuned for a release date).
And speaking of the editing…folks are often asking me to explain my role in the process…and I’m always happy to describe it. Having done more than 20 books, we’ve developed a system that works pretty smoothly and quickly.
So, here goes…Once Brian completes a manuscript (no, I don’t read individual sections as he writes ’em), he prints it out and hands it over to me…along with a pen and a stack of post-it notes. My job is to go through the manuscript with a fine tooth comb…looking for anything and everything that might “stop” future readers as they’re going along. In other words, I’m looking at major plot details (does the story make sense and bring the reader along from beginning to end), descriptions (can I envision the people and places he’s describing), punctuation, misspelled/incorrect words (spell-check catches misspellings, but not incorrect word usage), and even missing words. When I come across any of these, I grab my pen and a post-it…make a note of the issue…then stick it right next to where I have a question. Because of the many levels of detail that I’m looking at, this intensive process can take 4-7 days…sometimes even longer when there’s feline assistance involved.
And Brian’s job during this phase is…to wait patiently (insert eye roll here cause it’s hard for him to be patient). During my reading time, he’s not allowed to ask me any questions (not even what page I’m on)..nor am I allowed to ask him any questions. And here’s why: we don’t want to risk his answering one of my questions…and giving me too much information. This could influence my judgment as to whether the book flows along well and eventually ties up all of the loose ends. In fact, prior to my reading the manuscript through for the first time…and to ensure that I have no previous knowledge nor preconceived notions…Brian and I don’t even discuss the plot of the book. (Even you–as readers–know more than I do when you get the book–because you can see the cover art and read the description.) I don’t know anything about the book–until I start reading. If I did, that might also color my impressions of whether the plot holds together.
Once my pen is down and I’m done with the post it notes…Brian and I sit down for a marathon session of going through and discussing every single post it note…! Needless to say, there is a lot of back and forth discussion between us–sometimes we agree…and sometimes we disagree. But of course, Brian has the final say as to what changes he’s going to make and which ones he doesn’t.
After he’s made his changes, he hands the book over to his publisher. Of course, the publisher will sometimes come back to him with a few suggested changes–but those are usually minimal. And then the book goes off to production…!
It’s an exciting process for us…because our goal is always to give readers the best book possible. And based on the many emails, messages and comments we receive from readers around the world who’ve written to tell us that they love Brian’s books–we know that our process works…!