Publishing My First Book, Part 1

by Robin Lovett
published in Community

After I signed my book contract, I thought I’d have a few weeks to let things sink in before editing began. I mistakenly thought I’d have a month or more to do nothing but pound out the first draft of book two.


The discussions on editing and the cover began within a week, and it took me by surprise. It was mostly because my release date is just eight months from my deal announcement—since we wanted the book to be out in time for the Tour de France in July—since it’s a romance novel with a professional cyclist for a hero. And eight months is a big difference from other contracts where the release date is a year or more away.

Every publisher and editor does things differently, so no two experiences will be the same. But I can tell you my experience, and it’s been an exciting, dizzying one.

Pre-Round Edits

Within a week of signing my contract, I had an email from my editor, Laura Elliott (who is wonderful and available for freelance, by the way), asking for pre-edit edits. She sent me a list of things to look for in my book, like floating body parts (“my feet walked…” or “his hands moved…”), garbage words (so, that, then, etc.), misplaced modifiers, and formatting specifications for italics, chapter headings and more. I took five days and did a total pass through my manuscript and found many offending appendages and slash-able words.

raceCover and Copy

Days after turning in those pre-round edits, I received a form asking what I wanted my front cover to look like and a form to fill out for my cover copy. I didn’t understand what cover copy meant, but this is the blurb on the back of the book, or the meta data, all the words and bits that appear on a website to entice readers to read your book.

I hadn’t expected the first draft of the blurb to come from me. Fifty percent of it was scratched in draft two, but still, they started with what I wrote.

For the front cover, I had a very specific idea of what I wanted, but I quickly found putting that into communicable words was difficult. I spent upwards of ten hours combing through sites like Shutterstock looking for cover photos. It took multiple email exchanges with my agent before my ideas made sense and were shaped appropriately for the genre and characters. In the end, though, it was well worth it, as my cover came out better than I envisioned.

Waiting for Round One Edits

Then I had about a month of peace to finish my book two, draft one, but the whole time I was obsessively checking my email for my round one edits, expecting them any day.

I’ve heard from other authors this is a thing: waiting for the edits to show up in your inbox. You can’t plan for it. They come when they come, and whenever they do, you drop everything you’re working on to do them. That’s just how it is.

A good editor takes a great deal of care in her edits. She’s worried about making sure her suggestions are a delicate balance between pushing the book to be the best it can be without upsetting the things that are working beautifully. All while being sensitive to an author she hardly knows, making sure everything is clear and well understood, not prone to misinterpretation.

So writers, while you’re waiting, remember that your editor is working very hard to do right by your book, a book that she, too, has fallen in love with.

Round One Edits

I confess, I enjoyed doing my edits. I love it when someone takes the time to give minute details that are designed to make my work better. Granted, all the comas and semi-colons felt a little tedious, though necessary, but the challenge of the content edits, though agonizing, was satisfying.

First comes a Word document with Track Changes— yes, all you Scrivener and Google Docs lovers out there, when it comes time to work with an editor, you’re going to have to learn to use Track Changes in Word.

Along with those comments and line edits, comes a letter or an email, detailing general content edits. Going through the blue boxes and red strike outs in the Word document can be exciting, watching them disappear one by one, until flash, there’s zero left. It’s easy to forget, there’s edits that aren’t marked in that document. Read the letter or email carefully. There will be things your editor asks for that aren’t marked in the doc.

Round Two Edits

My second round of edits came much quicker, less than a week after I turned in my round one edits, and here things got more mind numbing. The delving deeper into the minor details of the story and the composition, refining things and polishing it down to a bright shine, taking excruciating care that no opinions or beliefs expressed by my characters could be offensive to a reader.

And echo words—uh—those devils. Finding every word that repeats too many times in a sentence, a paragraph, across a page or a chapter or the entire book—it’s an endless pursuit. No matter where I turned, no matter how often I re-read, there was always some offending repeat word. But the goal is to catch as many of them as I can, and place some hope in the copy editor.

My editor and I worked through the Christmas and New Year’s holidays to finish up the second round of edits, and within three weeks of me receiving my round one edits, we were done with both rounds. Only six weeks after I signed my contract. Dizzying.

My experience is unique, just like everyone else’s, but the result is the same: a polished book ready to be shared with the world. Meanwhile, I’m neck deep in learning how to promote my book.

Next time, I’ll delve into copy edits, the final line edits, and the horrors of receiving the final proof copy—the point of no return.


Robin Lovett, also known as S.A. Lovett, writes contemporary romance, and her debut novel, Racing To You, will be released July of 2016. She is represented by Rachel Brooks of the L. Perkins Agency and has a forthcoming series releasing with SMP Swerve in the summer of 2017.

She writes romance to avoid the more unsavory things in life, like day jobs and housework. To feed her coffee and chocolate addictions, she loves overdosing on mochas. When not writing with her cat, you can find her somewhere in the outdoors with a laptop in her bag. Feel free to chat with her on Twitter.

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