Angi Morgan: The Final Touch

Thanks again SCWW for allowing me to participate on your BLOG. I was actually scheduled to post last week, but had my final edits to finish.

Wow. FINAL EDITS. That’s right. My obligation to HILL COUNTRY HOLDUP is complete. Well, as far as being able to change the words or correct mistakes.

A chapter-mate read my Crazy Copy Edits and it scared her to death. Sorry ‘bout that. It really was a more than crazy week in my life. Final edits came with much more time for reading. They were very calm, actually, and only consisted of sixteen changes. Most were extremely minor. A few were one-word consistency problems I didn’t catch in copy edits. And one mistake was new copy not making it into the final version.

A consistency problem was literally changing step to swing. I had moved a conversation from the back yard steps, to a back yard swing. Little things like that got by me on the small printed version for copy edits. I think there were three or four total and they were missed by every person who read HHC before and after it was submitted. Keeping my fingers crossed that HHC is an exciting read and that’s the reason little mistakes will be overlooked.

My one missing line was an easy fix. Most of the page made sense as it was -- but the editor had wanted just a little more explanation. So I was able to change an existing piece of dialogue to include part of the new dialogue.

You may be wondering about Copy Edits vs. Final Edits. Copy edits, you can still add a paragraph, or delete a paragraph when needed. At Harlequin, the pages come to me via USPS and literally are a COPY of the book being submitted for print. (A reduced copy, with plenty of margin space.) A Copy Editor has gone through the physical pages and made changes based on publisher style, corrected mis-used words, and checked spellings of odd things. For instance, I use a name from THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY. They checked the spelling of that character. The editor also goes through the pages and makes notes, ask questions, wants clarification.

There may be a question regarding another portion of the story. For instance, the editor may want to know where a character picked up a cell phone. It may require the author to go back into the story and make a note for the editor that the characters bought a new cell phone on page 49.

Final edits are different. At Harlequin, the book is sent to you via e-mail as a PDF file. Each line is numbered and the author should do three things (at least these are the three things this author did):

I verified all the copy editor’s corrections

I verified all of my corrections

And I slowly read the entire book to make certain everything still made sense

Then I typed up the changes I needed. I wasn’t given any specific format, just that I should include the page and line numbers. I thought it would be more logical to include WHY something needed to be changed. Because at this stage, the fewer the changes, the better. So I used this format:

PAGE 143, Line 22

another shirt (not: that vest out)

REASONING: He’s already wearing the vest.


Sounds an alarm. I didn’t think we’d get this lucky. Mind getting another shirt for

On the SHOULD READ line, I re-typed the entire line. My editor was very pleased. And reading the book one last time made me smile. I forced myself to turn off my phone, turn off the e-mail program, turn off the radio...I got rid of the distractions and concentrated on the story. It deserved my full attention. By reading half the book at one time, that’s how I found those little inconsistencies that needed to be fixed.

EDITING TIP: I learned this tip from a copy editor of a newspaper in my early twenties (I worked for several newspapers as a type-setter). His tip? Read the text almost backwards. Your eyes will spot the errors instead of reading the story. In other words, start with your last page, read the last paragraph, then the second to last paragraph, then the third to the last paragraph, ending with the first paragraph at the top of the page. It works, especially when you’ve read your manuscript several times.

Til next time,



September 2010 Harlequin Intrigue

Some upcoming topics of discussion:

How I Chose My “Dream” Agent & Editor

An On-Going Behind the Scene Look at Getting Ready for Publication

(promotion, character sheets, log-lines, bios, etc.)

My Hero Has Brown Hair?

Targeting Your Book & Choosing Your Market

Seeing Your Cover For The First Time